All the Pretty Horses
Courage, Meanness and Flattery in All the Pretty Horses
In the novel All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, he presents several symbols one of them being blood. Blood is very crucial and its significance is expressed in the novel. John Grady Cole’s devotion is compensated in blood. The brutal image of blood and violence is morbidly displayed throughout the whole novel. It is an important symbol and a repetitive element, because it symbolizes the cost John Grady pays for everything he loves. It also represents the world around him and helps to define the attractiveness it has, despite the difference in violence and delicacy. Specifically, Grady only cares about three things that really matter to him which he later has to pay in blood: his life, horses, and Alejandra.
The presence of John Grady exists within the use of blood, intertwining his life to the natural beauty and animals. Blood is crucial for the human race, we need it to live, once enduring the pain we learn and if we lose it all, we die. The color red has several meanings and is shown often. Simply, implying the vicious world that John Grady lives in and the bloody landscape that surrounds him. For example, when he’s attending his grandfather’s funeral, the landscape is described as “the sun sat blood red and elliptic under the reefs of bloodred cloud before him”. In this scene, McCarthy depicts a vivid illustration of the history between Americans and Native Americans; the bloody battle in which they fought for control over the land. He uses blood in order to achieve his dreams and make them into a reality, because that is what he believes in. That justice can only be served through blood, which is actually John Grady falling back into the real world and setting out to a different country. Later in the text, McCarthy describes the ghosts of Comanche warriors who once used that same road which John Grady is riding to cross the land, the road is described as “pledged in blood and redeemed in blood only”. Specifically, the battle is defined as a contest between which groups can shed the most blood and can only alter the previous deaths by causing more bloodshed. John Grady soon realizes that America is no home to him, he can no longer stay there because it doesn’t give him the life he’s looking for. Therefore, he leaves Texas with his best friend, Rawlins to Mexico. John Grady hopes that Mexico can satisfy his dream of succeeding and eventually owning his own ranch. He has specific goals which he wants to fulfill, for example like the horses that are trapped, he wants to set them free so they could roam around more naturally and freely. He had always hoped for a dream like this. However in order to live a normal spirited life in Mexico, John Grady had to pay for his life, love, and Blevin’s horse in blood.
The complicated love between Alejandra and John Grady is indicated through blood during their romantic scene. “Drawing blood with her teeth where he held the heel of his hand against her mouth that she not cry out”. In this text, John Grady uses his hand to make sure Alejandra keeps quiet about everything they are doing. He doesn’t want anyone to know about their secret reunion, because it’s too risky. Alejandra bites down on his hand to silence his passion, which causes him to bleed. Similarly another incident occurred too, in which John Grady was in prison. He got into a terrible fight in which knives were being used, he was forced to protect himself by slaying the other man. The quote “from the red boutonniere blossoming on the left pocket of his blue workshirt there spurted a thin fan of bright arterial blood”, describes John Grady struggling to save himself and in doing so murdered the other prisoner, thus resulting in blood again. Furthermore, John Grady pays for Blevin’s horse in blood as well, when he tries to escape with it “he looked down at his leg. His trousers were dark with blood and there was blood on the ground. He felt numb and strange but he felt no pain”. This occurs right after John Grady has been shot while getting back Blevin’s horse at the end of the book. He had been shot in the leg and bleeding nonstop. The term “blood” is used once again, he’s paying for his love with blood. John Grady has mentally and physically become used to this idea of getting hurt, and in turn, he no longer feels the pain. The importance of horses often appears in the novel as an evasion from the world for John Grady, sometimes viewing the horses as more skillful and advanced to humans. “The horse had a good natural gait and as he rode he talked to it and told it things about the world that were true in his experience to see how they would sound if they were said. He told the horse why he liked it and why he’d chosen it to be his horse and he said that he would allow no harm to come to it”.
In this quote, John Grady expresses his love and desire to protect the horse no matter what the cost is. He speaks directly to it, making a promise in which he will allow no physical harm to come near it. In conclusion, tragic events are what makes the world admirable and makes people appreciate the little things they have in life. If it wasn’t for John Grady paying for his actions/wants, he wouldn’t be able to see the elegance in the world. All the bloodshed in the novel is used to create John Grady’s identity and make him realize what things in life are worth fighting for and what aren’t. McCarthy is simply trying to say that blood is what ties everyone together in the old west. Everyone has the same pure/free blood, but not many people take advantage of it. John Grady learns to embrace human nature after being released from prison, he corrects the violence that was inflicted onto him and seeks vengeance as the last step in his rite of passage. McCarthy reveals that violence and bloodshed are an unavoidable part of the human condition. It simply proves that by committing violent acts, one can be seen with loyalty and courage, defining who they really are at the end.
Analysis in ‘All The Pretty Horses’ by Cormac McCarthy
Use of Contemporary Westernism by Cormac McCarthy in All the Pretty Horses
Cormac McCarthy uses Contemporary Westernism in All the pretty horses through the main characters; John Grady Cole, Lacey Rawlins, Jimmy Blevins, and Alejandra in cooperation with colloquialism to develop a theme of loyalty and a loss of innocence. Fed up with the direction that American society is taking, two young men run away to mexico to be cowboys. They run into a younger boy who tags along, and sets up trouble for them later down the road. The two young men, John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins, begin working on a ranch as horse breakers. Where John Grady falls in love with the daughter of the boss. Right as things are beginning to look up for the two boys, they are arrested in connection with crimes that jimmy blevins has committed and sent to prison. Alejandra, the ranch boss’s daughter, pleads with her great aunt to buy the freedom of the man she loves. She agrees on the condition that Alejandra must not see John Grady anymore. When he is released from prison he seeks out Alejandra. He pleads with her to run away with him to America, only to have his heart broken by the realization that she will not break her promise to her Aunt. He then returns to America a broken man. The author, Cormac Mccarthy, uses colloquialism in the form of diction and metaphors to immerse the reader in the setting of south Texas and Mexico. As shown by The New York Times critique of All The Pretty Horses “the extraordinary quality of his prose. Powered by long, tumbling many-stranded sentences.” McCarthy uses this as an effective colloquial to immerse you in not only the culture of the southwest but as well as the breathtaking landscapes in which his adventures occur. “His descriptive style is elaborate and elevated, but also used effectively to frame realistic dialogue, for which his ear is deadly accurate. He’s acclaimed for using language that is so old, and almost unrecognizable, that many mistake them for relatively new or isolated terms.” These “archaisms” seem like they are outdated terms but in reality they are still commonly used diction in The southwest, especially in the nineteen fifties. His diction and phrasing come from all different time periods of English and combine into a prose all its own. That seems to invent itself as it unfolds, resembling Elizabethan language in its flux of remarkable and endless possibilities.” His remarkable use of language in highly unusual combinations is what makes his diction so unique, he then puts it through a screen of southern twang to create the prose for which he is so widely acclaimed, and known.
Artistic Techniques to Convey the Characters of the Heroes
One of the he uses of a colloquialism in the form of diction through metaphors that Mccarthy demonstrates is by Lacey Rawlins to show the lack of trust that is afforded to strangers out on the prairie. Lacey Rawlins and John Grady Cole have just crossed into Mexico and are having a conversation with a young boy they have run into named Jimmy Blevins. “youre name aint blivet is it? Its Blevins. You know what a blivet is? What. A blivet is ten pounds of shit in a five pound sack.” Lacey Rawlins lack of trust is warranted due to the environment they are in, and his choice of metaphor is a product of the environment in which he was brought up. His definition of the word blivet while not technically wrong it does point to a southern raising. The real definition of blivet is simply something that is overfull. And so the diction with which he phrases this metaphor is very obviously an attempt by mcCarthy to westernize, and westernize this definition. You can see aspects of Contemporary Westernism in his choice of metaphor, and the style of writing, in the way that he uses improper grammar and misspelled words in an attempt to immerse you in the environment of 1950’s South Texas. The diction of Texas and the southwest as a whole is completely unique and this is showcased by Rawlins, John Grady, and Jimmy Blevins throughout the novel. Jimmy Blevins was asked why he was running away, and he responds for the same reason as Rawlins and Grady Cole. They then ask what reason that is. His response is a perfect example of southern colloquialism through another metaphor. “Cause you knowed they’d play hell sowed in oats findin your ass down here.” This is an extreme case of American regional colloquialism for which the diction is highly unusual to most people. This phrase essentially means that they would react violently like oats burning in hell. This is a good example of the diction that is endemic to the South and specifically Texas and helps to immerse the reader within that setting and the Contemporary Westernism of the novel.
Another good example of colloquialism through diction within a metaphor that epitomizes southern culture, and diction is when Blevins horse is stolen by some mexicans. Rawlins is talking to John Grady on whether or not they will attempt to get it back. And Lacey Rawlins says that “A goodlookin horse is like a goodlookin woman, he said. They’re always more trouble than what they’re worth. What a man needs is just one that will get the job done.” Rawlins first says goodlookin which is another example of mcCarthy misspelling a word to show the unique diction that is present within the culture of southwestern America. He also compares horses to women, another thing that I would consider a western colloquialism. Most people might consider that an insult, to be compared to horse, but I see it as a compliment. Historically horses have played a very vital role in American culture, especially in the plains of southwest and central United States. As well as the fact he said “just one that will get the job done” which is a staple in southwestern American culture. Just getting the job done, with no need to be excessive or flashy. This was epitomized by the cowboys of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who simply made due with what they had. Which was never much. These examples support my thesis that McCarthy uses colloquialism through diction and metaphors to immerse the reader in the culture of southwestern America, and continues a trend in the genre of contemporary westernism all the while blazing a trail of his own. Cormac McCarthy epitomizes the genre of contemporary westernism through his use of colloquialism, metaphors and building upon the existing genre of the western, and possibly foreshadows its eventual demise. Also described in the crticism by the New York Times. “The decay of Western civilization throws a long shadow over all his work.” At one point John Grady’s father even remarks ‘We’re like the Comanches was two hundred years ago’. Insenuating that the life, and culture that they love is on the brink of destruction due to the ever evolving world around them. ‘We dont know what’s goin to show up here come daylight. We dont even know what color they’ll be.’ His father uses a little bit of irony here, joking that soon another more advanced culture will show up and drive them out of existence. Just as the white settlers did to the american indians in Texas in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
The novel opens and closes with eerie images of American Indians that suggest our civilization may be swallowed up as completely as theirs.” “McCarthy once reflected on the powerful workings of narrative, ‘The ugly fact is that books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written’. Just as John Grady and Rawlins depend on a tradition of popular Westerns and Hollywood films to act the part of westerners, so McCarthy is dependent in All the Pretty Horses on previous western novels. In this sense, we can read John Grady as a direct descendant of Wister’s western hero in The Virginian. Figured as the classic cowboy updated for a post-World War II West, John Grady follows all the codes and conventions of the genre except that he doesn’t get the girl or the ranch. Like Wister in The Virginian, McCarthy engages myths of the cowboy. All his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardenthearted and they would always be so and never be otherwise’. In breaking the wild horses on Don Hector’s ranch, John Grady ends up sowing the seeds of his own destruction, bringing an end to the mythic landscape of his dreams.” This proves my thesis of All the pretty horses epitomizing a contemporary western in that he doesn’t get the girl and there is no happy ending for John Grady.
Huckleberry Finn vs John Grady Cole: Similarities and Differences
The characters of Huckleberry Finn and John Brady Cole had many similarities and many differences throughout the book. The two characters’ motivations for leaving home were very different but had some similarities. Huckleberry Finn and John Brady Coles family situation was similar but there were also differences between them. Another difference between the two main characters is the level of trouble they got into when they ran away.
Both Huckleberry Finn and John Brady Cole ran away from their homes in the night. John Brady Coles motivation for leaving was that he didn’t see any future for himself in Texas since his parents divorced and were planning on selling the family ranch. He ran away to Mexico to be a cowboy because he couldn’t stop his parents from selling the ranch even though he offered to take it over. Huckleberry Finns motivation for running from home was because of his father and the woman taking care of him. The woman he was living with was very strict. She made him go to school and pray. He didn’t understand that he couldn’t for and get whatever he wanted. He felt like the woman was trying to civilize him, which pushed him to leave. Huckleberry Finn’s father also motivated him to leave because his father was very abusive and was an alcoholic. While John Grady Coles motivation was his the ranch closing down, Huckleberry Finns was his terrible family life. The similarity between the two main characters’ motivation for leaving home is that they both had family problems such as their fathers having addictions. This motivated them to leave because they felt like they didn’t have a close relationship with their fathers.
Huckleberry Finn and John Grady Cole had very similar family situations. Huckleberry Finn’s father had an addiction to alcohol. He was drunk all the time and beat Huckleberry Finn. John Grady Cole’s father also had an addiction. He had an addiction to gambling so he wasn’t home very often which led to a detached relationship between John and his father. Both of these characters had bad relationships with their fathers. The difference between the family life of Huckleberry Finn and John Grady Cole was their mothers. Huckleberry Finn didn’t have a mother and lived with a widow who tried to be a parent to him. John Grady Cole lived with his real mom and had a close relationship with her in the beginning of the book. For the most part, Huckleberry Finn and John Grady Coles family lives were very similar.
There was also a difference between the kind of trouble that Huckleberry Finn and John Grady Cole got in. Huckleberry got into a lot of trouble that he could easily talk his way out of. He never actually did anything to get him into too much trouble, he was mostly just caught up in all the lies he told. John Grady Cole on the other hand got into some major trouble. He was in a foreign country where he wasn’t always welcome. When he got thrown in jail without anyone to get him out. He was tortured and nearly killed until a woman he hardly knew helped him out. Overall, John Grady Cole got in more serious trouble during his time away from home than Huckleberry Finn did.
Overall, Huckleberry Finn and John Grady Cole had many similarities and differences throughout the two books. The similarities being their fathers and their overall family life. The differences were the seriousness of the trouble the two characters got in, their motivations for leaving home, and their mothers.
All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. a Literary Review
All The Pretty Horses
Chronologically speaking, All The Pretty Horses is quite an interesting book. It was published in 1992, is set in 1949, and often seems like it is set in the 1800s. Despite being set in the relatively modern timeframe of the late 40s, McCarthy nevertheless uses deliberately rustic ideas like horseback travel and cowboys to convey an idea that has lasted throughout the ages: the frontier/settler spirit, briefly filtered through a Mexican lens.
John Cole Grady is young. Very young, for what he went through. 16 years old is more or less a child functionally speaking if you’re talking in terms of horseback rides to Mexico and violent gunfights. He’s young and he has nowhere to go. His grandfather dies, and his ranch is to be sold off. His entire life is in turmoil. So he sets off into a land of opportunity, just as immigrants to America and settlers in the Frontier did all those years ago.
However, here’s a twist: he goes to Mexico, of all places. Why? Well for one, John Grady speaks Spanish (he was raised bilingual), but for another it’s where, he believes, the spirit of ranching survives. He could go into the city, learn a trade, and join the rest of the world in the 40s. But he doesn’t want to. John Grady Cole wants to be a cowboy. Ingrained deep within his psyche is a desire away from modern things.
How can it be the he be following that spirit if he’s leaving America? Well, he’s following the spirit in its 19th century style more than anyone who would stay in that day’s America. He’s running from an orderly world that he knows but does not want into a frightening yet enticing unknown, which to him appears to be free and prosperous.
However, John Grady’s frontier spirit falls apart. It’s more or less ripped to shreds, actually. Grady discovers that Mexico is actually a rather harsh mistress. His love is spurned, he is wrongfully arrested, and he even gets shot. Mexico is revealed to be not at all like the old Frontier Grady seemed to imagine.
John Grady ultimately has to go back to America. He understands this, on some level. He must join modern America and join the 40s. It’s worth noting that the style McCarthy uses in his own writing is often hard to quantify. It’s rather unique, and one of the more distinctive elements is how he uses dialogue. He uses no quotation marks, and often has long stretches with only dialogue; there’s commonly no other text for five to ten lines. I mention this because a lack of details regarding the surroundings leads to necessarily imagining the surroundings. And the events that happened often led me to imagining something akin to a mid-1800s American Frontier.
However, after Grady must return to America, and McCarthy does describe clear as day the pickup trucks and radios that he left behind. He must confront his past. But John Grady wishes not to do this. He watches his dead father be taken away in a hearse. John Grady still does not wish to join the modern day.
He shouldn’t go back. But he can’t stay. Not like this. John Grady Cole said a last goodbye to his best friend, got back on his horse and rode away. To somewhere? To fate, essentially. But mostly away. Away from his dead father and grandfather. Away from that world of modernity that he did not wish to be a part of. Away from the present and into the past.
The Choice Between Love and Duty in The God of Small Things and All the Pretty Horses
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy are two works that give their respective characters a choice between love and duty. Although these works differ drastically in historical setting, how love and duty develop throughout each novel are similar. In The God of Small Things, Roy creates the story of twins Estha and Rahel and alternates between the years of 1969 and 1993 in a southwestern Indian village called Ayemenem. In All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy writes the story of John Grady Cole, a teenage cowboy who leaves his home in Texas to go to Mexico in the late 1940s. The works take place on opposite sides of the world, but the characters are bound by the historical makeup of each area, seemingly affecting how they respond to the choice of love and duty and how other characters are affected by their choice between the two.
The God of Small Things is a work driven by the power of love. A common theme in the novel is the idea of the Love Laws, which are “the laws that lay down who should be loved, and how. And how much” (Roy 33). Still, the main conflict of the work is the clash between love and duty, or in this case social obligation. For example, in the beginning of the novel, Roy mentions regarding a set of her characters that “They all tampered” (Roy 31) with these Love Laws, and how their tampering affected themselves and others are proved throughout the entire work. Overall, Roy’s characters decide to choose love over duty, which is the reason for most of their distress. The most significant case of this choice is between Ammu, Estha, and Rahel’s mother, and Velutha, Ammu’s Untouchable lover. In this case, Ammu’s social obligation is to avoid the Untouchables, since the caste system was still an important part of Indian society. Yet Ammu chooses her love for Velutha in the last chapter during a sexual encounter, as they both ignore the consequences that their affair could have, especially when Velutha contemplates, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? I could lose everything. My job. My family. My livelihood. Everything” (Roy 316). This is mostly true because in Indian society at the time, the Untouchables’ duties were to remain invisible to the more distinguished people. In other words, they had to be extremely cautious of their actions because they were supposed to remain Untouchable to the other citizens.
However, by the time that Velutha and Ammu actually have sex, Roy highlights that “The cost of living climbed to unaffordable heights” (Roy 318) in that moment because, due to Roy’s unique structure of the novel, the consequences of Velutha and Ammu’s encounter are shown to the reader before the encounter itself. The reader becomes aware of the fact that Velutha is brutally beaten by the police, and Roy openly describes that situation as “History walking the dog” (Roy 271). In other words, Roy makes it clear to the reader that despite Velutha’s love for Ammu, his social obligations, or his duty, as an Untouchable are still valid in an Indian society, which eventually is the cause of the beatings he gets from the police. Ammu experiences the idea of social obligation invalidating love too, since at Sophie Mol’s funeral after her family had become aware of her relationship with Velutha, “they [Ammu, Estha, and Rahel] were made to stand separately, not with the rest of the family. Nobody would look at them” (Roy 7). Although Velutha and Ammu deliberately chose love over duty, their social obligations still overpowered their love as a whole, creating everlasting or even fatal consequences for the both of them.
On the other hand, most of the characters in McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses choose duty over love. As mentioned before, a large portion of this novel is set in Mexico and follows the story of John Grady Cole, a teenager who finds work at a ranch and eventually falls in love with the ranch head’s daughter, Alejandra Rocha y Villarreal. Since John Grady Cole is an American, he is unaware of the traditional Mexican society that he immerses himself into, which is first seen when Alfonsa, Alejandra’s great aunt, warns him about his and Alejandra’s relationship by saying that she “wants you [him] to be considerate of a young girl’s reputation” (McCarthy 136); John Grady Cole replies, “I never meant not to be” (McCarthy 136). In this same conversation, Alfonsa claims that “This is another country. Here, a woman’s reputation is all she has” (McCarthy 136), presenting to the reader how severe this relationship could be if it shown in public. Since Alejandra is of a higher class, she has to be more mindful of who she is in a relationship with since her reputation as woman is all that she possesses in Mexican society during that time, in a departure from The God of Small Things, in which people of lower class are supposed to be mindful of their place in society.
Later in the work, when John Grady Cole and Alejandra meet again, the reader becomes aware of her choice of duty over her love for John. Alejandra admits to him that Alfonsa told her that she “must stop seeing you [him] or she would tell my father” (McCarthy 250) and eventually her father became aware of the relationship. However, Alejandra decides not to talk to John Grady Cole again after their final encounter, mostly because “I [Alejandra] broke my father’s heart. I broke his heart” (McCarthy 251). Also, in the end, Alejandra tells John Grady Cole that she, “cannot do what you ask. I love you. But I cannot” (McCarthy 255). Even though Alejandra truly loves John Grady Cole, she cannot run away with him because of the social traditions she has always been accustomed to. Even though her own father “was going to kill” (McCarthy 251) the man she loved, the love from her father, which is seen as the most important in this society, invalidates the love from anyone else. In other words, once again, a character’s social obligations outweigh the romantic love they are allowed to experience. The consequences of Alejandra’s choice are temporarily seen in John Grady Cole’s actions and thoughts after their final interaction. John Grady “felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave” (McCarthy 254). John Grady was absolutely heartbroken over her choice, but due to the society they inhabited, Alejandra’s loyalty to her family was what was necessary.
The controversial themes of love and duty persist throughout Roy’s The God of Small Things and McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, but they hold different effects. In both works, what the characters were obligated to do due to the societies in which they lived invalidated romances that went against their social obligations. For example, in The God of Small Things, it was Ammu having a relationship with an Untouchable, and in All the Pretty Horses it was Alejandra having a relationship with an undistinguished American. Both works go into depth about how the social traditions of their respective histories refuse to change despite the strength of individual loves. History was a common theme in Roy’s work, while Alfonsa told John that, “In history there are no control groups” (McCarthy 239). However, the consequences of each set of choices contrast; since Ammu and Velutha chose love over duty, Ammu’s family ended up being ignored by everyone else and Velutha ended up dying. Yet Alejandra’s decision to remain loyal to her family only resulted in John Grady Cole’s heartbreak. Even though in both novels the duties and social obligations of the characters invalidate the romantic loves that they harbor, the consequences of the choice between love and duty differ in severity. Overall, the decision between love and duty depends almost entirely upon the society each work is placed in, thus creating starkly different outcomes.
The Manipulation of Western Tropes in All the Pretty Horses
Without a doubt, Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses stays true to many common tropes within the Western genre. However; what makes this novel so unique is how McCarthy manipulates some of these important tropes. They are still present throughout the book, in fact, some of them are magnified through each part but as a whole, McCarthy openly manipulates some of the most popular ones in an attempt to highlight the development of the protagonist: John Grady Cole. Most importantly, McCarthy works the image of the cowboy, the importance of horses, a sense of lawlessness, and the gunslinger trope into All the Pretty Horses and alters the impact of them throughout the novel. As a whole, McCarthy implements these tropes to ensure that the novel stays true to the western genre but he manipulates them to highlight the psychological and physical journey of John Grady Cole.
In typical Western novels, the image of a cowboy is what drives the entire plot; a lawless, tough, gunslinger protagonist with a penchant for horses is the common archetype and it never changes throughout western novels. The common cowboy archetype is first exhibited by John Grady Cole when Rawlins asks him why he is leaving St. Angelo, Texas as he replied that he was “already gone.” (27) signifying the reason for John’s quest, which is also a common western trope as well. At that moment, the reader then assumes that John Grady’s journey by himself will occur since the idea of a lone traveler is often associated with westerns. However; that is not what occurs, which only makes John Grady’s growth much more significant. Instead of being a lone traveler, John Grady starts off his quest by being accompanied with two other people in the first part of the book: Rawlins and Blevins.
What makes this important is the fact that McCarthy manipulated the image of a cowboy by splitting one’s common traits between the three of them. For example, John’s role in the trio’s collective image of a cowboy is his love for horses since he is claimed to be “the best” (59) riders according to Rawlins. Rawlins’ role in their image of a cowboy is predominantly his lawlessness, or his ability to openly express his beliefs. Through dialogue, especially between John Grady Cole, Blevins, and Rawlins, the reader is aware of the fact that Rawlins is opinionated. For example, whenever Rawlins shares his opinion, it is relatively harsh like when he told Blevins that he’d, “Get shut dead for horse stealing” and that, “It don’t mean a damn thing to him. He expects it.” (80) Finally, Blevins’ role in McCarthy’s collective image of a cowboy is one of the most obvious: the gunslinger trope.
In fact, Blevins’ skills with guns is what helps John Grady Cole and Rawlins make the decision to accept him, especially since he was confident with them by telling John and Rawlins that if they, “wanted to throw something up, I’ll [he’ll] hit it.” (48). In the first part, they all collectively build this image of a cowboy and they all share common traits associated with them, which is very uncommon for western novels. In regards to John Grady’s development, this collective image lets the audience get insight on the fact that due to his upbringing and background, John Grady is unable to fit the image of the cowboy at first. The collective image that McCarthy created in the first part of All the Pretty Horses does not last as long as some readers would assume. In fact, the image between the three of them slowly dissipates throughout the next three parts of the novel. This is first seen in the second quarter, when the three of them are separated for the first time and John Grady is seen as more of a charismatic front man than the others. For example, John Grady built up so much notoriety at La Purísma after he’d broken in sixteen horses that when “John Grady pointed and asked that tortillas be passed there came hands from both sides of the table to take up the dish and hand it down in this manner like a ceremonial bowl.” (110) John Grady’s growth in regards to him separating from the previous collective image of a cowboy can also been seen when he and Rawlins were talking the night of when Don Hector gave John that special task as Rawlins mentioned that, “It’s an opportunity for you. [John Grady] Ain’t no reason for you to turn it down that I can see.” (116) From that point on, John Grady is seen as a separate entity from his companion, which only grows throughout the book.
Also in the second part, John Grady slowly becomes more lawless, which was previously Rawlins’ assigned trait in the collective cowboy image, as he faces criticisms from people within the ranch because of his newfound relationship with Alejandra. Specifically, Alfonsa is the first to advise John Grady that, “it is not proper for you [John] to be seen riding in the campo with Alejandra without supervision.” (136) and that John Grady should be, “considerate of a young girls’ reputation” (136) since that is “all she has.” (136). Although seeing Alejandra may seem harmless to John Grady, this is the first time he receives disapproval from a majority, and that point expands at the end of the part, when John Grady and Rawlins are arrested. From the perspective of John Grady’s development, McCarthy still manipulates the image of a cowboy trope so that it is gradual rather than instantaneous, and the second part in particular highlights that.
The final two portions of All the Pretty Horses can be identified as very significant in regards to the manipulation of western tropes to amplify John Grady’s development as a character. Previously, the image of a cowboy was manipulated by McCarthy by being split between three different characters and when that dissolved, John Grady gradually fit some of the traits associated with a cowboy’s typical image. What occurs in the last two parts is all buildup of John Grady morphing slowly into that image; in the third part, he becomes much more lawless and in the final part, his lawlessness only amplifies as he becomes a lone traveler. For example, in an act of self-defense, John Grady ended up murdering a man in the prison he and Rawlins were in by, “sinking a knife blade into a cuchillero’s heart.” (201). This can also be seen when John is separated from Rawlins in the final part and holds the captain hostage in order to get his horses back by threatening, “When I die you die.” (270). This creates a stark contrast with the John Grady presented to the reader in the first part of the novel, and the contrast is drastically accentuated in the last portion of the novel as John Grady “Passed and paled into the darkening land, the world to come.” (302) as he continued to travel by himself, searching for something because he cannot find anything for him in his old town.
In regards to western tropes throughout the novel, they are still manipulated; John Grady just fills some of the characteristics because it is necessary due to the setting. He is generally a humble character who holds an unwavering honor code, but due to his circumstances, John had to fit the image of a cowboy. For example, the reader is aware that John Grady “Never thought I’d [he’d] do that.” (215) after he had killed the assassin in the prison. But Rawlins comes to his defense by claiming that he “didn’t have no choice” (215) due to the violent atmosphere within the prison. Also, John never intended to travel alone; Rawlins wanted to leave since the emotional toll of witnessing Blevins’ death and being within the prison began to consume him. Therefore, with the idea of western tropes in mind, McCarthy constantly manipulated them because in common westerns, death does not take a negative emotional toll on cowboys nor does the cowboy want to travel with a companion. McCarthy most likely did this to show how John’s personal philosophies persist throughout each part and specifically how they had to waver due to the circumstances he was in, which gives the reader an understanding of his physical journey in comparison to his psychological journey.
A big part of the significance of All the Pretty Horses comes from McCarthy’s ability to manipulate the common tropes within the western genre. In comparison to other westerns, McCarthy’s novel is very uncommon in regards to character development and its relationship with other western tropes, which could be intentional. Overall, the western tropes within McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, are implemented to stay true to the western genre, but are later manipulated in order to show the relationship between the psychological and physical journey of John Grady Cole.
Light in August and All the Pretty Horses Essay
In both novels, All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy and Light in August by William Faulkner, a central theme of heroism and the expectations placed on the two main characters and other’s surrounding them is presented as a pivotal point for the advancement of the plot and embellishment of the meaning of the book. While this theme is reflected unseemlier ways while comparing the two works, it is not presented in the same fashion in regards to the author’s choices and characterizations of the figures that populate their fictional worlds. While McCarthy’s work reflects a more optimistic view toward heroic acts and attempts made at greatness than Faulkner, the latter’s novel is a darker rendition of this concept with heroic acts and charity being repaid with corruption and pain. Both novels address this central concept with plot lines that follow the characters through elaborate journeys and focus on set ups for heroism and, at times, failure in achieving it.
The most powerful and understandable medium through which this idea can be translated in the two novels are the characters. Both main characters are used as examples of heroism through means of non-heroic acts or failure at heroism itself through the eyes of the audience or other characters in the novel. In McCarthy’s novel, the main character presented is John Grady who has a set goal of attaining the rustic lifestyle of a cowboy, a naturally heroic role simply by its associative meaning in the eyes of the sixteen year old boy. As both a parallel and contrast the this, Faulkner’s Joe Christmas is a character who is relentlessly set on failure in his opportunities for any kind of redeeming action and yet ascends to the place of a Christ like figure by the end of the novel simply through the payment he is made to make in the closing of the book. These are the two characters received as heroes in their own respective worlds if not by the other characters that inhabit them. The attainment of this perceived greatness is drastically different for each character, how ever, and this difference calls into question the very basis which the audience uses to classify a hero. john Grady’s continuous struggles through the various trials of his journey, such as the fight with the cuchillero in prison, are what give him the respect of the audience whereas Christmas’ heroism is present only because of a certain sympathy felt for him due to the hand he is dealt being an unfair one both in life through his mixed heritage and the discrimination he receives for it and in his death through its circumstances and the hatred which he must suffer. The holistic comparison of these two characters and their failures in their heroic attempts or lack thereof reveal a similar result from two very different approaches, effectively establishing a blurred line for an audience as the the validity and meaning of a heroic figure.
In an extension of the exemplification of character driven heroism, the supporting characters in each of the novels provides more insight into the view the two authors hold of the attainment of greatness. In All The Pretty Horses, McCarthy presents two other key figures that, in addition to John Grady, create a group whose flaws are characterized in each of its members. As the two’s presumed leader, John Grady’s most revered quality by the audience is hope. This trait, how ever, is a downfall for him as he can be overly ambitious. Rawlings is a representation of cowardice, a trait that removes his chance at a heroic status and eventually confines him to the option of retreat back to Texas. Finally, Blevins is the character who represents youth, the main shortcoming of the group as a whole. This combination is the set back that gives John Grady his heroic feature after he overcomes its confinement. This forthcoming of extreme effort from John Grady contrasts Christmas’ lack of persistence in any charitable endeavor. This is where the characters of Lena Grove and Byron Bunch become key in understanding why we view Christmas the way we do at the end of the novel despite his less than honorable actions.Christmas is the ultimate concentration of sin in the novel but is not its sole ambassador. He is simply a result and manifestation of the sins of others. Lena is a testament to his impurity for which he suffers. Her lack of virginity is a parallel to the lack of belonging Christmas feels because of his racial background. Byron is more a figure of corruption as he is distracted from his routine activities and even God by the sinfulness of lust. This reflects the corruption suffered by Christmas through the abuse of others and the festering of sores created through minor acts of untreated sins eventually snowballing into murder. Between the two works, it can been seen an interesting contrast in that one character become dedicates to a goal of heroic notion and achieves the same effect as someone who simply happened to be the product of misfortune and poor circumstances.
While the realization of heroic stature is something attained by both characters, the means to achieving this goal and the effectiveness of their supposed heroism can be debated. It can be argued that John Grady’s actions such as killing a man or hiding sexual relationship with his employer’s daughter are a testament enough to remove his title of the hero of the novel while Joe Christmas’ entire life is enough to revoke his. The reason that these two are able to be presented as heroes is because they are the best that each novel has to offer. Both works present characters who are searching for a world that cannot exist for either of them whether it be one of acceptance or of an era that has already passed. It is the pursuance of a dream that is the most heroism quality the audience sees in these characters and their failures in such an endeavor only create a sense of sympathy in the reader. The novels exemplify the realism of heroic imperfection and present an idea that disproves the warped notions of certain characters while also correcting the mislead assumptions of the reader.
Coming of Age in Red Sky at Morning and All the Pretty Horses
Red Sky at Morning and All the Pretty Horses by Richard Bradford and Cormac McCarthy are two novels that encompass a young man’s coming of age experience. Through the use of the unhealable wound, the hunting group of companions, the parent/child conflict, and the use of a magical weapon archetypes, both young men become increasingly more heroic, whether in overcoming obstacles or rising to the occasion of greatness.
Both Josh Arnold from Red Sky at Morning and John Grady Cole from All the Pretty Horses must endure or overcome a wound that is unhealable for them. In Josh’s case, this is the loss of his father, “The telegram, that goddamn telegram that turns up in all the war movies, was lying on the coffee table.” (pg. 245) This is when Josh and his family are notified of his father’s death, he then has to put his grief aside and deal with his mother’s problems, “When she awakened, late the next afternoon, my mother put her hands over her ears agains and didn’t move. I discovered she hadn’t bothered to get up to go to the bathroom, so I called Dr. Temple again. I signed something he gave to me…” (pg. 245) Although Josh hasn’t recovered from the loss of his father, and truly doesn’t recover, he becomes more heroic since he must persevere and fight through his loss to care for his mother and tend to her pressing needs. John Grady Cole from All the Pretty Horses encounters a similar experience with losing someone, and overcoming it, “He saw very clearly how all his life led only to this moment and all after led nowhere at all. He felt something cold and soulless enter him like another being and he imagined that it smiled malignly and he had no reason to believe that it would ever leave.” (pg. 254) This is when Alejandra tells him that she cannot marry him; he is heartbroken and thinks his life can’t be complete without her, although he triumphs and overcomes the pain and through this onward movement of life he becomes more heroic.
In both novels, Josh and John Grady have a hunting group of companions that they defend sometime in the book, their defense of them makes them more heroic. John Grady defends Blevins to Rawlins, “Meanin just leave him (Blevins)?” said John Grady. “Yessir,” said Rawlins. “What if it was you?” …. “I can’t do it, John Grady said (pg. 79). Although Blevins has brought them trouble in the past, and is certainly about to get them into trouble right now by stealing back his horse, John Grady defends him to Rawlins. This defense of Blevins to his best friend takes some gumption, and John Grady becomes increasingly more heroic because of it. Rawlins could have laughed in John’s face, a fact John knew, and he still defended the underdog in order to do what was honorable. Josh also has to have an uncomfortable conversation with someone to defend a friend, “Chango said: ‘Viola? Amigo, you’re crazy (in reference to Josh spotting her in La Cimajkpg (198). Although Chango was a changed person and intent on doing good, Josh didn’t know how he would react to the news, but he told him any way in order to protect Viola. Josh grows into a hero because of this, and he learns through this that the honorable thing isn’t always the easy thing.
Another similarity that Josh and John Grady share is a parent/child conflict which makes them grow stronger as an individual. Josh’s mother is very drunk one night and Josh must overcome her treatment of him in order to care for her mental health, “After five or six blows, I realized, in a detached and clear-headed way, that I wasn’t angry any more, just bored. So I finally brought my hands around in front of me and grabbed her wrists and held them… I said, as slowly and clearly as I could, ‘I’m sorry, Mother.’” (pgs. 116-117) Josh behaves as an adult in a trying time and shows maturity beyond his years, this use of restraint makes him grow as a hero in the novel. John Grady also has to deal with disappointment and a parent/child conflict in novel, one dealing with his mother selling his beloved ranch, “Why couldnt you lease me the ranch… I’d give you all the money. You could do whatever you wanted.” His mother replies, “You’re sixteen years old, you cant run a ranch.” (pg. 15) John is not only turned out from the house he loves, but is also forced to leave the last connection he has with his deceased grandfather; his trek is proof that he can rise from disappointment and grows into a young man, proving his worth as a hero.
Throughout both novels, Josh and John Grady use a magical weapon in order to cope with situations or wields them as a special gift. John Grady’s special gift is his ability to handle horses: “He’d ride sometimes clear to the upper end of the laguna before the horse would even stop trembling and he spoke constantly to it in spanish in phrases almost biblical repeating again and again the strictures of a yet untabled law.” (pg. 128) John Grady can handle a horse and almost can feel the horses thoughts, he uses this gift to bond to the horse and many times his gift saves him from eminent danger, the use of the gift makes him the hero. Josh also has a magical weapon that he wields; it is his sarcasm and sense of humor. In this quote Josh find humor in his suave-ness, “ ‘May I kiss you good-by, Josh?’ said Amalie. Josh replies, ‘Okay. Sure.’ Always the continental lover. I knock the ladies over with my epigrams.” (pg. 19) He finds humor in his own lame response to Amalie’s request; this sense of humor allows him to be more relatable in his relationships (his father) and allows him to cope with future situations, his sarcasm also makes him a distinguished and relatable character to the reader, furthering his role in the novel as the hero.
Through the use of the unhealable wound, the hunting group of companions, the parent/ child conflict, and the use of a magical weapon archetypes, both Josh Arnold and John Grady Cole grow and develop into the heroes in their respective novels.
Myths Revealed: Smoking Kills and the Western Myth is No More!
Although smoking of the past was viewed as glamorous and romantic, its cancerous, harmful effects are now a common fact. Similarly, in Cormac McCarthy’s novel All the Pretty Horses, the consistent smoking throughout the novel juxtaposes the negative effect of smoking with a naïve faith in the American western myth. The recurring motif of smoking in the novel serves to portray both the romanticism behind blind faith in the Western myth and the stark realities of its modern failure. In the relentless motifs of smoking, it’s hard to deny that smoking has a deeper, symbolic meaning in All the Pretty Horses. The friendly dialogues and cliché beginnings that take place while smoking express the poignant communion between characters before the disappointment of the western myth is discovered. John Grady and his father meet in a café where they hardly talk; during this awkward dinner, his father feels as though he has failed his son. Throughout this first scene where the characters smoke, John Grady’s father “got another cigarette and tapped it against the lighter,” and as Grady contemplates about his future “his father smoked.” This father/son conversation conveys the intimate rapport of characters before the demise of the myth. Furthermore, before Rawlins and Grady run off to Mexico, the two share a man to man communion (while smoking): Rawlins “took a cigarette out” and “sat smoking.” As he “tipped the ash from the end of the cigarette,” Rawlins claims that women “aint worth it. None of em are.” The empathy between John Grady and a close friend or relative while smoking emphasizes the idealized vision of the west. Just as smoking is fascinating to youthful users, the clichéd idea of the west is also. In this cliché beginning of the novel, John Grady and Rawlins experience no danger or violence on their journey to Mexico; their harmless trip to Mexico follows the boys’ naïve perception of the western myth. This perception of the myth similarly follows smoking—the intriguing experience of smoking seems harmless at first. As Rawlins absorb his newfound life in the west, he “rolled a cigarette and lit it.” Here, in another communion with John Grady, he claims that he “could get used to this life.” He delicately tapped the ash, saying it “wouldn’t take [him] no time at all.” This furthermore emphasizes the childish view of Rawlins and Grady—just as they believe smoking is a harmless habit, they believe this idealized view of the West will be as they expected. As John Grady and Rawlins face the gory reality of the American west, the fate of smoking is also recognized. The death of John Grady’s father and the violent, threatening scenes convey the degradation of the myth of the west. Although smoking began as an enthralling communion between characters, it soon becomes a brutally silent killer…or a near killer. Just as “the boy stubbed out the cigarette,” the violent fight scene erupts in the jail where John Grady is almost killed. The relationships with cigarettes have drastically changed from the beginning of the quest—no longer are characters in deep conversations while smoking; they now are facing the violent reality of the western myth. Perhaps the most painful reality of smoking was portrayed by the death of his father. This death symbolizes not only the reality of smoking, but also a death of childish view of the west. Although it is not made explicit, it can be inferred that John Grady’s father dies from lung cancer, as he was heavy smoker. His father and grandfather were an embodiment of the former, idealized vision of the west. John Grady clearly has some spiritual connection with these relatives, as he “knew his father was dead” when he awoke one morning. Although John Grady may realize that the romanticized myth is coming to an end, he still maintains his faith. As the myth of the American West deteriorates in the eyes of some of the characters throughout the novel, smoking likewise becomes a hopeless habit, emphasizing the slow weakening of the faith in the American West. Yet, John Grady remains steadfast to his belief of the American west—he refuses to accept modernization. At the beginning of their quest, both John Grady and Rawlins have an ultimate belief in their future as cowboys. As their plans turn another direction, however, Rawlins becomes extremely cynical about this idealized dream. His doubt in the American west correlates with cigarettes. As the boys return to Encantada, a recent memory, as prisoners: “John Grady called to ask [the children] if they could get them cigarettes.” The skeptical Rawlins, however, spits and claims “they aint goin to bring you no damn cigarette,” expressing his loss of faith in the western dream. The shy children do in fact bring the cigarettes for John Grady, giving him some hope that the dream of the American cowboy may survive. Another important dialogue that concretely grounds John Grady’s faith is when he discusses the breeding of the Andalusian horses. Even more, John Grady is smoking while discussing this future. As he “tips the ash from his cigarette,” the hacendado asks John Grady if he knows what “a criollo is.” The criollo happens to be an Andalusian horse, which John Grady later breeds with the western mares. The breeding of these specific horses corresponds to the “picturebook horses” that his grandfather dismissed as a child. John Grady noticed that these animals were like none he had ever seen; they had good, heavy hindquarters, “enough to make a cuttinghorse,” which is another emphasis on the fantasy of these “picturebook horses.” These horses, which perhaps symbolize the idyllic, yet unreal, west in the eyes of the grandfather, represent an attainable reality to young John Grady. The smoking during this important scene, which paints his envision of the west, portrays John Grady’s faith in his dream—he will do anything to fulfill it. Furthermore, when John Grady is in the last prison, Pérez tells him of connections to get him out of prison. When Pérez offers John Grady a cigarette, he “stubbed it out in the tin ashtray …Cigarettes in that world were money themselves and the one he left broken and smoldering in front of his host had hardly been smoked at all.” This denial of Pérez’s money portrays John Grady’s similar denial of the modernization of the West—he still believes in the idealized West. The common smoking scenes of All the Pretty Horses, whether they are of man to man communion or display the violence of the West, convey the dying dream of the American west. This idealized trope, although intriguing at first, eventually has a fatal, negative effect, just as smoking. So, beware, fascinating dreams can lead to death!
Wildness and Civilization in All the Pretty Horses
The post-World War II boom that informs today’s world has no place in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses. The post-war optimism and suburban complacency common to other American works of this period does not figure into McCarthy’s novel, peopled as it is by characters like Blevins whose “daddy never come back from the war” (64) and John Grady’s father who looked “over the country with those sunken eyes as if the world out there had been altered or made suspect by what he’d seen of it elsewhere” (23), presumably in the war. Instead of the modern urban environment, these characters seek comfort in a less complicated world that is informed by an older cowboy ethos. This ethos relies upon wildness instead of artifice and the natural landscape instead of civilization. McCarthy’s relentless contrast between the call of wildness and the dangers of civilization merits a closer look at wildness and its associated values. The novel opens immediately after the death of John Grady’s grandfather. Grady’s grandfather’s authenticity and authority stemmed from his management of the wild world of the ranch. The reader’s initial impression of the original 1866 ranch was that the grandfather carved it out of the land, “a oneroom hovel of sticks and wattle” (6). In exercising dominion over the ranch land, the grandfather achieved a unity with the wild world. The grandfather’s death denotes the loss of that wild world and impels the novel forward. Grady’s brief forays into the civilized world prove unsatisfactory. Here, contemporary society is exemplified by the lawyer’s office and his mother’s theater world. The lawyer’s tools prove futile in regaining the ranch. His mother’s world is so artificial that Grady cannot even find her registered in hotels under her own name. Grady’s inability to connect with his mother is brought home when “the clerk turned away and checked the registrations. He shook his head. No, he said. No Cole” (22). Disappointed, Grady is compelled to seek the wild world in Mexico. Immediately after these unsatisfactory encounters the most idyllic portion of the novel begins. Grady, accompanied by Rawlins, becomes immersed in the world of the trail to Mexico. Rawlins and Grady leave the complex world behind them, and “by sunset they could hear trucks on a highway in the distance” (32). After this separation, the dialogue between the two becomes laconic and relies upon humorous understatement. Stunning descriptions of the natural world take the place of complicated dialogue. In one of the few moments not wracked by the sense of imminent doom, McCarthy tells us that Grady and Rawlins “left the river and followed the dry valley to the west. The country was rolling and grassy and the day was cool under the sun” (34). Such momentary optimism is possible only in the natural world, away from civilization. When Blevins enters the story, this dream-like interlude abruptly ends. Blevins has been damaged by the world, emotionally scared by his stepfather. He too seeks release in the wild world. However, despite his numerous talents – horseman, marksman, survivalist – Blevins’ failure and ultimate death are caused by his inability to deal with the natural world. His separation from the natural world is underscored during the storm when Grady asks him “Why cant you be out in it?” and Blevins responds “On account of the lightnin'” (67). One could never imagine Grady’s grandfather allowing such fears to get the better of him. This fear of the natural world has severe short and long terms consequences for Blevins. In addition to the loss of his horse, he loses all ability to take care of himself when the floods wash away his clothes and gun. McCarthy highlights his inability to deal with the natural world as he “sat with his bare legs stretched before him, but they looked so white and exposed lying on the ground that he seemed ashamed and he tried to tuck them up underneath him” (74). Despite his bluster and superficial ease in dealing with the natural world, Blevins’s lack of authenticity immediately catches up with him. Were it not for Grady’s kindness, he could have been sold to the Mexicans or traded for wax. Once relieved of Blevins, Grady and Rawlins enter the world of the Hacienda de Nuestra SeÃ±ora de la PurÃsma ConcepciÃ³n, “a ranch of eleven thousand hectares situated along the edge of the BolsÃ³n de Cuatro CiÃ©nagas in the state of Coahuila” (97). Their arrival at the Hacienda signals a return to both the natural world and the world of artifice. Comparisons between Grady’s grandfather and Don Hector Rocha y Villareal are inevitable. The power of both men stems from their authority over their land. Both are rooted in the history of their land. Grady rapidly wins Don Hector’s respect when he and Rawlins break a small herd of three year old colts in as many days. This exercise of dominion underscores that a man’s worth is derived from his conquest of the wild. The tension of the battle between Grady and the horses is palpable and urgent. McCarthy tells us that,…before the colt could struggle up John Grady had squatted on its neck and pulled its head up and to one side and was holding the horse by the muzzle with the long boney head pressed against his chest and the hot sweet breath of it flooding up from the dark wells of its nostrils over his face and neck like news from another world. They did not smell like horses. They smelled like what they were, wild animals. He held the horses face against his chest and he could feel along his inter thighs the blood pumping through the arteries and he could smell the fear and he cupped his hand over the horse’s eyes and stroked them and he did not stop talking to the horse at all, speaking in a low steady voice and telling it all that he intended to do and cupping the animal’s eyes and stroking the terror out (103-104).This exercise of dominion over the wild world wins him an impressive promotion to breeder. Through his ability to master the wildness, Grady momentarily appears to be a master of his world. This moment of mastery is short-lived because it brings Grady closer to the world of artifice in the form of Alejandra and Alfonsa. The foreignness of Alejandra is apparent because she is riding English, wearing “jodhpurs and a blue twill hacking jacket” (94). This stylized convention is foreign to Grady; although his love for her is beyond question, this foreign artifice puts the reader on notice that trouble is sure to follow. The complex machinations of Alfonsa trigger the subsequent incarceration of Rawlins and Grady. Once in jail, the boys are out of their depth. Their cowboy ethos and mastery of the natural world have little use in jail and they are saved only by getting “paid out” (209) by Alfonsa. Released from jail, both Rawlins and Grady eventually return to Texas. McCarthy’s description of the natural world seems disjointed: “the dead moon hung in the west and the long flat shapes of the night clouds passed before it like a phantom fleet” (298). The wild world of the ranch is gone. The death of Abuela severs Grady’s last connection to that world. Rawlins asks, “Where is your country?” and Grady responds “I dont know where it is. I dont know what happens to country” (299). This response calls into question Grady’s purpose in the world and the value of his cowboy ethos. The novel closes with a description of the natural world. McCarthy tells us that Grady …rode with the sun coppering his face and the red wind blowing out of the west across the evening land and the small desert birds flew chittering among the dry bracken and horse and rider and horse passed on and their long shadows passed in tandem like the shadow of a single being passed and paled into the darkening land, the world to come (302).McCarthy’s description is foreboding because this natural world is foreign and Grady’s place in it uncertain. In All the Pretty Horses, McCarthy contrasts the natural world with the civilized world. Whereas the natural world is associated with emotional release and freedom, the civilized world is associated with theatrical artifice at best, and jail at worst. One’s authenticity and authority are derived from mastery of this natural world. As shown supra, both Grady’s grandfather and Don Hector were exemplars of those whose authority was derived from such mastery. Blevins is an example of one who has failed to master the natural world. At the end of the novel, it remains unclear whether McCarthy’s protagonist will ever achieve such mastery or even if his cowboy ethos are still meaningful.