The Road is about a young boy and his father attempting to survive in some sort of post-apocalyptic world. We hardly get any background or explanation for the way things are, but it's clear that that doesn't really matter. What matters is the present state of the world, the relationship between these two people, and each of their relationships with the desolate earth. McCarthy has said that he was inspired by his own son. Here is an excerpt:
He was a long time going to sleep. After a while he turned and looked at the man. His face in the small light streaked with black from the rain like some old world thespian. Can I ask you something? he said.
Yes. Of course.
Are we going to die?
Sometime. Not now...
What would you do if I died?
If you died I would want to die too.
So you could be with me?
Yes. So I could be with you.