Care to Share?
by Andrea Brucculeri
The Road is a story of love — between father and son, men, God, and all of humanity. The story is relatively minimalistic, with the main characters not even receiving names through the film. This allows the story to be told through small actions and few words and invites the reader to observe themselves in the position of the characters. One of the main ways that love and goodness is expressed in the film is through food— which, ironically, makes very few appearances. However, it is this lack of presence in the film that makes food such a striking and meaningful feature, as characters stranded in a post apocalyptic wasteland are constantly searching for their next meal. Food is a symbol of humanity, love, and goodness, and this is expressed through the little boy.
The nameless young boy in the film is the one true beacon of love in the film, and he uses food to express this love throughout the film. In the wasteland, there is very little food to hope for and every small discovery means new hope to survive the winter. Cannibalism is frequently brought up in the film, and the little boy always insists that they would never eat people because they are the “good guys.” This draws the line in the sand — good guys would rather die of starvation than hurt another human. Food is an expression of love, not violence. When the man finds a Cocla Cola, he offers it to the boy to try. Even though the boy likes the Coke, he insists that his father share it with him (25:58). This is the first wholly sweet, human moment between the boy and the man in the film, as it shows that the boy cannot even enjoy the treat unless his father is willing to enjoy it with him. This is a small act of love, but demonstrates the way the two care for each other. Later in the film, after the boy and man stumble across a large quantity of canned foods, the pair encounter a blind, sickly old man on the side of the road. The boy insists that they give him food, and despite the father’s protest, they do (1:04:00). Normally, the adult is the one teaching the child to be caring, generous, and fair, but in this situation the little boy is teaching his father how to love others. This is especially apparent when a lighter, happier music starts to play and the old man and the little boy hold hands as they head off the road to find a spot to eat (1:06:42). This suggests that sharing the food was the human thing to do— it gave the three travelers a sense of community, belonging, and love.
The screenshot is from the dinner table in the underground bunker (56:03). Aside from a few of the cheerier flashback, this is the most joyful moment of the entire film. The colors in this scene are warm, unlike any of the present-day scenes. The two are eating together and the man is smiling as he goes, enjoying watching his son eat as much as he is enjoying the food himself. The lighting of the room is calming and feels like home. The food in the center is such a source of light and happiness, and it is made even more special because the father and son get to enjoy it together. It is also important to note that the actual foods they eat are not emphasized beyond knowing that these are normal canned items — it's more about the fact that they are sharing this warm, peaceful moment with food.