A sliver of hope in the bleakest of times

This past week I did something I don't do that often. I read a novel. I am a voracious reader, but I don't read that much fiction. Maybe I should. But then life is full of too many "shoulds," so I'm not going to worry about it too much.

What's the novel that brought me out of the woodwork? The Road, Cormac McCarthy's Pulitzer Prize winner from 2006. My teenage son read it in his high school literature class and recommended it.

To say the setting is bleak is an understatement. It is a post-apocalyptic landscape where color is restricted to shades of ash-covered gray because everything has been charred by some unnamed disaster a few years earlier. Only a few people are left. The story centers around the survivalistic wanderings of a father and his son. They scrounge for food. They hide from human predators. They trudge on. Hope is whittled down day after dreary day, but a sliver of it persists. At one point, the boy asks his father what's the bravest thing he ever did.
Getting up this morning.
Really?
No. Don't listen to me. Come on, let's go.
Hope and goodness are the most prominent themes in the book.  The boy divides the world between "good guys" and "bad guys." He desperately wants to believe goodness still exists. He seeks assurance from his father:
There are a lot of good guys. You said so.
Yes.
So where are they?
They're hiding.
Who are they hiding from?
From each other. 
The more fear dominates, the more goodness is concealed. But it is never fully extinguished. Neither is the presence of God. Not in the ash-covered world of The Road. Not in our world, no matter how disastrous it may become.

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