Carrying the Light Through the Darkness – The Road


[In this essay, R.P. will analyze the symbols of fire, light, and sight in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. These symbols will be related to the theme of hope in dire situations.]

The constant decay of the world of The Road is marked by seemingly perpetual darkness, barren and ravaged landscapes, and an uninterrupted feeling of futility. Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic wasteland, void of any easy comforts, strives to demoralize every one of its unfortunate inhabitants. The cannibalistic survivors roam the wilderness with no destination ahead. However, an unnamed man and his son, the protagonists of the novel, are different from the other survivors. Cormac McCarthy develops the codependent relationship between the father and son using symbols such as fire, light, and vision.

The man and the boy in the novel rely on each other for more than just survival. The father’s only motivation to continue living is his son. He cannot leave his son to die in the world, and he cannot take his son’s life along with his own. The boy is a beacon of hope for the man. As terrible as the world has become, the boy remains inherently good, and that goodness inspires the father. A major theme throughout the novel is the idea that the man and his son are “carrying the fire”. This fire represents the hope that they hold which allows them to continue on their journey. The nights that they must sleep without a fire are marked by despondency, but whenever a fire is present there is a much more optimistic mood. One such scene is found on page 150, “Then he turned down the lamp until the flame puttered out and kissed the boy and crawled into the other bunk under the clean blankets and gazed one more time at this tiny paradise trembling in the orange light from the heater and then he fell asleep” (150). At first glance it seems that the “paradise” refers to the basement which they had found to sleep in, but in actuality the man is referring to the boy. Scenes like this are frequent in the novel, and always subtly associate the boy with light. In one of the low points of the novel, the man is worrying about the fatigue of his son. “He didn’t think the boy could travel much more. Even if it stopped snowing the road would be all but impassable. The snow whispered down in the stillness and the sparks rose and dimmed and died in the eternal blackness” (96). The campfire dying down into “eternal blackness” is juxtaposed with the boy in danger of dying of exhaustion.

The man’s son is the light at the end of the tunnel that allows the man to continue moving and to hope for a better future. When the father is dying, the boy appears surrounded by light, “There was light all about the boy as he brought water…and when he moved the light moved with him… He lay watching the boy at the fire. He wanted to be able to see. Look around you, he said. There is no prophet in the earth’s long chronicle who’s not honored here today. Whatever form you spoke of you were right” (277). In the father’s dying state, the light of his son is even more evident. This paragraph includes several symbols. The boy is a symbol for Jesus, surrounded in light and bringing water to aid a sick man. The hope that the boy gives to the father even brings him to the point of acknowledging religion in a positive light, something which is very out of character. In this moment, the father has finished passing on what he can of his morals and life lessons, his “fire”, to the boy. The two of them had been “carrying the fire” together, yet the father is soon portrayed as a “fading light” (280). In the same scene, the boy is shown physically holding a burning candle for the first time in the novel. In his dying, the father passes the metaphorical torch to his son so that he may continue to be a light in the world.

Earlier in the novel, the boy was very interested in the flare gun that they found on the ship. In the scene afterwards, the boy shoots it into the sky and talks to his father about the people that might see the light it gave off. He hopes that the “good guys” might be able to see it. After talking about it for a while, the father gets to boy to admit that he was hoping that God would see it, so that God could know where he was. This conversation sheds light upon the boy’s possible motives for acting as selflessly as he does in the novel. He is hoping that other people, including God, could see the light of hope that he gives off.

Another very important theme of the novel is vision. Going back to the previous passage during the death of the father, the man remarks that he “wanted to be able to see.” Vision goes hand in hand with the symbols of light. In order to be able to hope, the people must first shed their cynicism and “open their eyes”. On page 18, the father states that the world that they live in is, “like the dying world the newly blind inhabit, all of it slowly fading from memory” (18). The man’s efforts through the novel are not necessarily to get to a destination, but to help his son to understand morals and hope, which have faded away everywhere else.

The Road tells the story of how the relationship between a man and his son can provide the hope that they need to continue living in a world void of solace. They carry the fire and their hope on the road, their love for each other pushing them forwards. “Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence.” – Lyn Yutang

(R.P. 2014)





The Breath of God Through the Road of Time

In this essay E.L. discusses Cormac McCarthy’s disbelief in the good of mankind and the absence of a God to govern and care for human beings through his writings in The Road. This essay also examines existential themes McCarthy brings up through the use of motifs and symbols.

McCarthy tells the tale of a nameless father and son surviving in the desolate aftermath of an apocalyptic happening. The people left in this world are savage, cannibalistic beings who represent the typical human living on the planet. Religious elements play heavily upon the meaning of the work and McCarthy delves into the existential views of philosophers such as Camus, Sartre, and Kierkagaard. We see this through McCarthy’s passages where there is clearly no righteousness for the path of the good and chance determines their existence. The question of God’s existence in a place where evil can overturn good helps determine one of the books major themes, as well as a personal struggle that McCarthy himself may have.

The characters in The Road remain nameless throughout the novel. Books that include nameless characters often use that symbol to emphasize the importance of that character, and not single who they are as an individual, rather using them to encompass an entire group of people such as the main character in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison . In The Road, however, the nameless characters remain nameless for two reasons. One of them I believe is to show the good left on the planet, and how rare and precious they are amidst a sea of evil. This can also be looked at in a biblical way. The bible shows God and Jesus as the ultimate good, they are sinless among a world of sinners. The times have changed though and the thought of being absent from sin has now become unthinkable, the next best thing is to have morales and abide by what is right and just. The father and son in The Road live by morales and try to do the right thing even in the most terrible situations. They are not sinless though, since living in a world such as they are makes for an environment where remaining sinless is impossible. The father and son take on an almost Godlike status where remaining nameless makes sense since they are not just the average living human on the earth. Also the father and son are nameless to show how meaningless they have become. They have no choice but to run from the evil of the earth, they cannot change anything and their existence is completely meaningless. Later on in the book the father and son run into another nameless character. At first he claims that his name is Ely but later tells that he was lying. “I couldn’t trust you with it. To do something with it. I don’t want anybody talking about me. To say where I was or what I said when I was there. I mean, you could talk about me maybe. But nobody could say that it was me. I could be anybody. I think in times like these the less said the better.”(172-173) In this passage the wanderer is referring to his real name and how his name is his identity, without it he can become anybody. McCarthy’s choice to leave the son and man nameless leaves them open to any identity, whether it is Jesus and God, the ultimate father and son, or just two people who are ultimately meaningless in the scheme of the world, and no matter how long they live and fight for whatever goodness they have left in them they will still fail to the evil that surrounds them.

The father and son become bearers of the “fire” in The Road. The fire is a symbol for goodness and mercy. For the morales that the Father and Son have. They travel the road not for hope of survival, thought the child may think so, but as the father knows deep down because it is the right thing to do. They must spread the fire and try to survive and keep the goodness alive. In the world McCarthy provides death would seem better then trying to brave what is left on the earth. The father could have very easily killed himself and his son, and not exposed the son to the horrors of cannibalism and death. This would be very easy yes, but it was not what he set out to do. The father most likely knew that they were some of the only good people left on the earth. At this point though the others on earth can hardly be spoken of as people, since they have fallen to below the standards of most animals and capture and eat other human beings. With this there is something to be said for being the last real human beings on earth, and no matter how hard it is to sustain that life the weight of that fact is immense and it is something that you would try to keep alive for. To remain the speck of humanity left in a world full of only the most demonic animals. “They pulled the morels from the ground, small alien looking things that he piled in the back of the boys parka”(40) The fact that McCarthy chose a type of mushroom called morels is clearly significant. They were small alien looking things, the morales of humans were also such. They had become foreign and small to a place that was once their home. The father piles the small mushrooms into the back of the boys hood but throughout their journey he is also piling up real morales into the boy. The man knows if he cannot survive it is now the boys job to keep these ideals alive, so he proceeds to feed the boy his own knowledge of good so that those morales could live on even if only through one small boy.

McCarthy creates his own image of a chaotic world in The Road through two very memorable scenes. These scenes show off the idea of randomness in the world and how everything is determined by chance, there is no fate or pay off for being good people. The ill hearted fare just as well in this world as the good. In the first scene the father and the boy find a house with a locked door heading down into a basement. This door includes what many may say is hell. It is a basement of half-naked people starving, some with limbs cut off (for the food of the people holding them captive.) Later on the man and the boy find a similar door which opens up to a bomb shelter with beds and an abundance of supplies. This is their salvation, their heaven for the time being where they are saved from death. These two opposing places contrast heaven and hell and the randomness that people come upon the good and bad in their lives. Both of these places though were made by man. Unlike the heaven and hell in the Bible which were created by God. We see the first basement as a product of what mankind has created, with its creators still living and using it. The savage humans creating a hell for other humans to be tortured in. The second was also created by people but these people are long gone, killed off by other humans. The evil humans remain, but the ones who were not evil, just maybe logical are killed off. Their good deeds have done them no good. Humans created the hell and heaven that our main characters discover. McCarthy uses this idea as a parallel to the real world, showing how men have evolved to evil without a God ruling over what is evil and good in our world. It is all governed by chance and we are left to fend for ourselves without an almighty being watching over us. While in the heaven bunker an interesting happening occurs. “Dear people, thank you for all this food and stuff. We know that you saved it for yourself and if you were here we wouldn’t eat it no matter how hungry we were and we’re sorry that you didn’t get to eat it and we hope you’re safe in heaven with God.”(146) This passage has the people that built the shelter taking the place of God as the saviors of the boy and his father. The boy thanks the people because it was them that saved him and his father from death, not God. The boy feels more in debt to the people who were killed and their food was left then to a God that has not shown him or his father any mercy throughout his life. This is a continuing theme throughout the book and it is clear to see that in this futile future that all goodness is done by man. It almost takes on the feel that God has given up on this world, that he no longer has hope in the majority of the human race and that he has left those few filled with goodness to fend for themselves. Goodness becomes something very huge on the earth created in The Road. Bigger than love, bigger then religion. Ely claims that there is no God and we are his prophets. This is an extremely interesting quote and is hard to make sense of. I believe that Ely is saying that there once was a God but he is now gone, and that there once was a God, there were people who followed his ways and spread goodness across the earth. God is gone and his prophets remain, those few who chose to still to good on an earth where they are not rewarded by man or God.

Another instance where man takes on the form of God is when the boys father dies. The father tells the boy to talk to him. The boy tries to talk to God, but the most fulfilling thing to do is talk to his father. “She said that the breath of God was his breath yet though it pass from man to man through all of time.”(287) This reference shows McCarthy’s ideal of God as overall goodness and how his will is passed on from man to man. The women that is now taking care of the boy believes in God but knows that the boys father was a man of morales and goodness and because of that he contained the breath of God. Therefore it was okay for the boy to try and talk to his father instead of God, because even the women believed that his father carried the breath of God. McCarthy shows his faith though, among the world of evil, that the breath of goodness is always being passed down and always exists even in the end when all is gone, and all that we view as good is demolished and years gone. McCarthy’s skepticism of the human race is contradicted in this book but he is almost reassuring himself and his audience that there is hope, among the crowds of evil and when the church fails there will be goodness being passed forth even if unseen through the generations of mankind.

(E.L. 2008)

The Road: The Last of Humanity in a Desolate World

(In this essay, M.D. will analyze the dehumanization and the will to survive in McCarthy’s The Road. The writing style, symbolism, and motifs will also be analyzed within this essay.)

“Eat what?
Maybe some beef stew. With crackers. And coffee.
What do I have to do?
Tell us where the world went.” (Page 166)

The Road is a story of a father and son’s struggle to survive in a post apocalypse world where cannibalism is common and the world is barren of all vegetation. Through out the novel, the nameless father and son are heading down south on a road to survive the winter, where, if too far north, they will freeze to death.

Cormac McCarthy’s award winning novel, The Road, if full of symbols and important motifs. A specific symbol found on page 21 describes the world in which the father and son are forced to live in. “They trucked along the blacktop. Tall clapboard houses. Machinerolled metal roofs. A log barn in a field with an advertisement in faded ten-foot letters across the roofslope. See Rock City.” These little fragmented sentences are symbolic in that they represent the way the world once was versus what the world is presently within the novel. The world once had grand houses made by machines which once helped the world function. And the large sign, “See Rock City” is the most significant sentence. Rock City, once an industrialized city full of the hustle and bustle of life, is now exactly what the sign is. It is a rock city, grey, lifeless, cold, and fossilized forever with the memory of the world that will never be seen again. “See Rock City” is a powerful statement of which we must look at and be warned that we as a society must actually see the big picture of the world, not just look, but actually see what it is we are doing and creating and where it might lead us one day.

The symbolic meaning behind the idea of keeping the father and son nameless plays a large part of the theme or motif which is in an inhumane word, is it surviving to live or surviving just to survive. The meaning behind the namelessness is due to the fact that keeping them nameless makes them seem that much less human. They have already been stripped of the basic needs of food, shelter, and warmth, and now they do not even have names to be identified with. The author has placed them in a world and reduced them to wild animals trying to be the fittest in the survival of the fittest world. The only thing they have left in the hopeless world are the comforts they provide for each other, but as they continue their journey, eventually their roles they play for each other switch as the boy becomes more of a man. “You’re not the one who has to worry about everything. The boy said something but he couldn’t understand him. What? he said. He looked up, his wet and grimy face. Yes I am, he said. I am the one.” (Page 259) The boy’s statement is the beginning transition of the boy’s life and the man’s life. This transition is the sort of passing of the torch from the father to the son. The father realizes then that the boy is truly affected by the man’s actions and the boy has become his own man with his own opinions and excessive worries.

Through out this novel, the major theme involves the lack of humanity in a lawless world and what people do when stripped of everything they have ever known. Some chose to leave everything and kill themselves, as the man’s wife, the boy’s mother, chose to do. Or people chose to live a life of cannibalism just to have anything to eat, and the last option is the option that the man had chosen. He gave the boy and himself a purpose in a world where there was none. He gave them the “fire” within them. He told the boy that they carried the fire, which could represent hope, love, life, knowledge, or anything pure. It is ironic that the man would chose a “fire” as this symbol because, from the little knowledge learned within the novel, the world ended up as it is because of large fires. He chose the element that destroyed his universe as the element that represents his life.

All of these symbolizes tie in together in the end to create the larger picture of the novel. When placed in a world where there is nothing to live for, are you then living for the sake of living, or do you still live for a purpose. This is the major debacle the main characters are forced to ask themselves. For the wife/mother, her choice was not to live at all because, even with her husband and son with her, she felt there was nothing left in the world. She lost everything within her and ended her life before anyone else could do it for her.

For the main character, his whole life was to keep his son alive for as long as he could, whether that was a selfish act or one that came without thought, depends upon the readers opinion. As for me, I believe he was doing the only thing he knew. He loved his son too much and knew there was hope left in the world to end his or his son’s life sooner than needed be. He knew his purpose was to provide any life he could for his son. “This is my child, he said. I wash a dead man’s brains out of his hair. That is my job.” (74)

As for the boy, he could not find his place in the empty world he was born into. He was living just too live. Through out this novel he had absolutely no faith or hope in the world. Every place they went to he became frightened because he thought the bad guys would meet him there. Never did he even consider there to be good guys. “The boy looked away. What? the man said. He shook his head. I don’t know what we’re doing, he said.” (244) He was lost but eventually, when his father passes away, he knows what his purpose is. The “fire” his father told him to carry he learns was inside of him the whole time and he can find the other people who have the fire inside of themselves, such as the man and the woman who find him in at the end of the novel.
This novel touches upon many different themes, symbolizes, and motifs. The love the father has for his son was enough for him to live in the world he no longer finds familiar. As for the son, he had no recollection of the pre-apocalypse world. Because of that he had no idea why he was even there, trying to survive in a world that did not want them. Eventually he found his place with his father in his memory and the good people that took him. (M.D. 2009)

No Country for Old Men
: Free will of one, Fate for the rest.

(In this essay, M.D. will analyze the roles and choices the main characters made while relating them to the main theme of good versus evil and fate versus free will in Cormac McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men.)

“Every moment in your life is a turning and every one a choosing. Somewhere you made a choice. All followed to this. The accounting is scrupulous. The shape is drawn. No line can be erased. I had no belief in your ability to move a coin to your bidding. How could you? A person's path through the world seldom changes and even more seldom will it change abruptly. And the shape of your path was visible from the beginning.” (Page 259)

This graphic violent novel is about a man who, upon finding trucks filled of drugs, dead men, and 2 million dollars, chooses to pocket the money where he is later seen at the crime scene and his hunted through out the novel. By taking the money is fate is sealed as a psychotic killer chases him through out the west coast border and Mexico to retrieve the money, and kill anyone who stands in his way. The novel has an underlining of fate versus free will and good versus evil.

It can be argued that it was fate vs. free will that made him take the money, and fate versus free will that made Sheriff Bell become the protector, or Chigurh, become the sociopath that he was. This novel touches upon whether or not the people in the world can stop the evils around them or whether they can help those who do not wish to be helped.

The main character who finds the 2 million dollars and keeps it is Llewelyn. Married to Carla Jean, he went out hunting one evening and stumbled upon a disturbing scene of murder, death, and drugs. He unconsciously signed his own death wish when he decides to explore the disaster rather than calling the police, like he should have done. When he finds the 2 million dollars, he keeps and knows that his life will never be as it was when he is seen at the scene of the drug dealing gone wrong. He, and his wife, will always be running, but he takes the money anyways.

This decision can be analyzed in different ways. In a theme of good versus evil, he would be the devils advocate. He helps the bad by hiding and spending this money while jeopardizing the only family he has. In the novel, Llewlyn is depicted as the protagonist that should survive in the end with his wife. McCarthy has created a genius plot due to the fact, the reader should dislike Llewlyn. His only good trait is his good luck that keeps him alive during most of the novel, and the love he has for his wife. Other than that, he is a greedy man who thinks he is the fittest in Freud’s world, when, in fact, he is the low dog in the survival list. He deludes the reader and himself that he can handle himself and keep him and his wife out of harms way when he clearly could not.
In the theme fate versus free will, for Llewelyn he chose giving him free will, but by choosing, he sealed the fate of all the others that would meet him and get in the path of Chigurh. Chigurh never had fate or free will; he is the constant in the equation of the innocent people’s life. He will kill and never think twice about it. Only the coin he flips could change his decision, even then they never had a choice, it was all up to fate, a destiny that Llewelyn created for them.

Sheriff Bell is the hero in the story that in the end does not succeed. He learns that not everyone wishes to be saved and times are changing pace and he can no longer keep up. His mission was to save Llewelyn and his wife from getting killed by the executioner chasing them. He is the good in the good versus evil, and in the end good does not prevail. Evil, even after being in a car crash that should have ended Chigurh’s life, lives on to kill another day, while Sheriff Bell retires, losing faith in his self.

McCarthy’s evil winning over good is a twist on the classic stories of the hero winning in the end and evil forever gone while the characters lives happily ever after. His story of one person chosing wrong in a situation and ending up in so many deaths that never are avenged is brillient because he keeps the novel relatable to the real world we see on the news every night. He does not sugar coat and evil and lets readers understand that even the good can make a horrible choice and only your free will, which was your decision, is the path way to the fate provided to you.

(M.D. 2009)


American Violence Showing the Scale of Mankind





Meridian is a story about a kid who leaves home at an early age and travels across the southwest into a wasteland of violence and depravity. McCarthy keeps his writing basic, but fast paced, never giving the reader a moment to catch up with the plot or their own minds. He does this for good reason though, as many connections can be drawn from the mid eighteen hundreds to todays society and possibly society for the rest of time.


Meridian are the kid and the judge. The kid is, as one can probably gather, inexperienced and to a certain extent innocent in the ways of the world. The judge becomes the embodiment of violence and is almost all knowing. The judge has seen all and there is no mystery to him he shows the part of mankind that has experienced all and has not seen the consequences to his actions, the kid is the part that is yet to learn this, the part that still believes in goodness and that good actions are payed back by good happenings. These two characters become friends but in the end we have reason to believe that the judge kills the kid which can be enterpreted as McCarthy’s belief that the shameless out do the people with morals and standards. The kid is by no means innocent, but he portrays some hesitation and disgust in the violence that takes place in the world around him. The Judge is completely happy only when committing violent acts, he is the embodiment of violence and kills for fun, the kid only kills when he has to.





Meridian, the sinful outweigh the righteous.

The Road: Hope in a Hopeless World

[(Essay dated June 10, 2010) In the following essay S.L. will examine how Cormac McCarthy uses the boy as a symbol for hope and the goodness still in mankind. The prevailing theme of survival will also be discussed.]

The novel, The Road, is a story of an unnamed father and son’s struggle for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Desperate to escape the promise of death winter holds, the pair travel south, where hopefully a warmer climate awaits them.

It becomes evident early on in the novel that the boy is more then just a boy. At one point in the novel the man even refers to him as a god. This is close to the truth, at least when the boy is viewed from the mind of the man. To the man, the boy is his only reason for living. “…won’t survive for yourself” (McCarthy 57). The man lives so that he may be able to provide for the boy and ensure that the boy lives. The boy is the man’s only hope for the future in the world. The man sees all other people as evil, they are “the bad guys” who are not to be trusted. Though he often lies to the boy and says that “the good guys” are out there somewhere, when in his heart he believes this to be false.

As the man and boy travel on their journey they come across a number of people, it is up to the man to decide whether these people are “the good guys” or “the bad guys”; though he often does not wait long enough to make a clear distinction and holds the assumption that everyone is a “bad guy”. Which in the scheme of things is a good plan, it is better to be cautious then dead. However, while the man is repeatedly distrustful and unwilling to help anyone, the boy always looks to see if there are more “good guys” on the road. The young boy is always willing to help travelers and gets very upset and refuses to talk with his father if the man ignores the boy’s pleas to help a traveler on the road. This often means that the father and son go through many periods of silence on their journey because the man refuses to put the boy’s life in danger just so he may help someone. “We can’t share what we have or we’ll die too” (52). In the man’s mind were they to help someone it would be a waste of their food and resources.

The boy is only successful in convincing his father to help one person out of the many that they meet; this is an old blind man who called himself, Ely. It seems that the only reason he was able to convince the man was because they had just come from a bunker that was filled with food and they were sure to take enough for the journey ahead. Throughout the entire interaction with the old man, which also happens to be the longest interaction they have with another human, the boy’s father is very terse and the boy is the one who must hand the old man all of the food they give him. The only contact the boy’s father has with the old man is to question him about his intentions and his views on God; neither one has a kind word to say to his fellow traveler. At the end of time together they have this short conversation:

“You should thank him you know, the man said. I wouldn’t have given you anything.
Maybe I should and maybe I shouldn’t.
Why wouldn’t you?
I wouldn’t have given him mine.
You don’t care if it hurts his feelings?
Will it hurt his feelings?
No. That’s not why he did it.
Why did he do it?
He looked over at the boy and he looked at the old man. You wouldn’t understand, he said. I’m not sure I do (173).

This short passage effectively demonstrates what has happened to human nature when put in such circumstances. The choice of the old man not to thank the boy is made even more powerful by the fact that he was from the pre-apocalyptic time, when people used to have decency and care about one another. He even admits that were he put in the same situation he would not have given the boy any food at all; he would have walked on past him without a care. This old man is only looking out for his own survival and could care less about the suffering of others. However the boy is young and innocent, though he has been forced to see much violence in his life he still manages to be full of hope and kindness. Even when placed in a situation where any other person would react with anger the boy still manages to respond with kindness. When a desperate person steals all of the man and boy’s food and supplies that father reacts violently. The man and the boy track the thief down and the man threatens to shoot the thief if he does not return their things, he also demands that the thief remove all of his clothing. This horrifies the boy who does not expect this kind of cruelty from his father; after all they are supposed to be “the good guys”. The boy starts to cry and cannot stop and his father must drag him away from the thief, “Standing there raw and naked, filthy, starving. Covering himself with his hand. He was already shivering” (257). This act of brutality by the man shocks the boy greatly and eventually he cannot be dragged any longer and just plops down in the road, immovable. Through his tears the boy manages to convince his father that the man was just scared of death and eventually the boy persuades the man to give the thief back his clothing.

The thief is not the only one in the novel who chooses to act desperately in order to survive. When faced with horrific conditions people’s true nature shows itself. Some in the book turn to stealing other’s supplies, as the thief did. Others turned to a far more disturbing act of survival. In the post-apocalyptic world all food sources have been virtually wiped out. So some people decided to resort to cannibalism to survive. These individuals were so desperate to continue their own survival that they did not care that they were murdering and eating other human beings. This interestingly is where women come into the picture. Throughout the novel female characters are temporary and tragic figures. Most of the women in the book are horrible victims, held captive and bred for food. This is a fate that the boy’s mother did not want to fall victim to and so she made the decision to kill herself. Her absence in the novel represents the absence of hope and the absence of the future. She could not see any hope in the future as the man does with the boy. She could only see a bleak and hopelessness future and it is in this way that she acts as the boy’s foil.

The boy is hope personified. In his father’s words, “he carries the fire”, which is their special term for being “the good guys”. The fire is symbolic of humanity’s warmth; their decency, kindness, goodness, morals, and hope. The boy is the man’s hope and in order to ensure that this hope lives on the man must nourish it and try to keep the hope shielded from the true horrors of life. The man does just this; he always makes sure the boy eats something when food is available. He even gave the boy a couple of treats they found such as an old can of Coca Cola and a powdered drink mix. As, the man lays dying, he tells his son to eat his share of the food, instead of keeping it for himself in hopes of regaining his health. The man tried to shield the boy from the destruction reaped upon the world and the dead bodies that lay in the streets. However, the boy continues to see the horror in the world no matter what the man does. The boy recognizes this evil but does not let himself fall victim to it. His spirit and hope remain resilient against the gruesome scenes he witnesses or experiences. Instead these experiences makes him believe even more that there must be more good people in the world to counteract those who roast babies and cut off a man’s legs to eat.

It turns out at the end of the novel that there are more good people. A family had been following the man and boy and when the father died they took the boy in as one of their own. This ending indicates that the hope still survives; the boy lives on with a new family who shares his ideals and will continue to journey and carry the fire with them.

(S.L. 2010)


Child of God: The Making of a Monster

[(Essay dated June 10, 2010) In the following essay S.L. will examine the conditions in which the main character, Lester Ballard grew up in and how these conditions are responsible for the monster he ultimately becomes in Cormac McCarthy’s novel, Child of God.]

In the novel, Child of God, Lester Ballard commits heinous crimes against innocent victims. He murders people in cold-blooded fashion and rapes dead women, without ever once recognizing that this behavior is wrong.

From birth, Lester Ballard seemed to have been cursed with misfortune. His mother runs away from home when he is only a young child and his father hangs himself when Lester is about nine or ten years old. Lester is in fact the one to find his father hanging from the barn ceiling and must go to the townspeople to get help cutting his father down. “They say he never was right after his daddy killed hisself” (McCarthy 21). This would be a traumatic event for anyone, especially a young child. It is at this point that Lester might be realizing that he is alone in the world. He has no other family to take care of him and teach him right from wrong, and none of the people in the town would care to try. Other than his parents, the reader is not told too much about what else Lester went through when he was a young child but the reader can only imagine that it was an incredibly difficult life. With no one to care for him the child could only rely on himself to take care of his basic needs. This is made even more difficult by the rural setting and town’s refusal to include him.

One of the major conflicts Ballard has in the novel is between being significant or being recognized and getting a connection or feeling bonded to his community. Everybody has a need to feel significant within his or her community; they need a feeling of importance at some level, to know that people at least acknowledge their existence. To study how the community at large affected Ballard, it is first important to examine what a community is. The word community is defined as: a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists. In Sevier County, several communities exist, such as, the people at Church and the Sheriff and his deputies. However Ballard was never a part of any of these communities, he was one by himself; he was too different from everybody else to fit in. Ballard tried to blend into the different communities at Sevier County but he was always instantly rejected for his strange ways. Communities can be very judgmental and even fanatic about who is part of the community and what the community stands for. Ballard is rejected even in Church, which is typically thought of as one of the more popular and accepting communities. “When Ballard came in [to church] with his hat in his hand and shut the door and sat alone on the rear bench…a windy riffle of whispers went among them” (31). Lester is clearly an outsider even though he has done nothing wrong at this point in the novel but behave a little strangely.

Another connection Lester fails to make is one he desperately craves and this is a personal connection with a woman. It is perfectly natural for Lester to want this type of connection with someone as he is a young and developing male. Unfortunately for Lester, no woman ever acknowledged his presence. No woman ever let him get close to her. He just seemed too different and strange. His somewhat violent ways and rough demeanor made people, especially women, uncomfortable. Ballard develops an obsession with young girls and cannot help himself from staring at them with an especially intent gaze. “Young girls faces floated past, bland and smooth as cream” (65). Lester desperately wants someone to just acknowledge and care for him but it seems as no one ever will, no matter what he does. Lester once comes upon a woman passed out in the cold woods, when he wakes her to help her she starts to yell and curse at him and attacks him with a rock before running off. Later the woman ends up accusing Lester of raping her when he did nothing but try to help her. It just seems that no matter how he tries, Lester will forever be an outsider with no one to love him.

The one role model and friend Lester has is an old dumpkeeper with a questionable sense of morals. The dumpkeeper has nine unruly daughters whom he unleashes his frustrations on and beats. Eventually all the sexually promiscuous daughters fall pregnant and the dumpkeeper beats them some more for causing such trouble and filling the house up. The dumpkeeper is even described as having once come upon one of his daughters having sex in the woods and after beating her he decides to have sex with her and rapes his daughter. The dumpkeeper really has no morals himself but expects that his daughters have some. “I don’t know what makes them girls so wild. Their grandmother was the biggest woman for churchgoin you ever seen” (38). The reader is not shown much interaction between the old dumpkeeper and Lester, the only thing shown is that they seem to have a game of shooting rats. It also appears that Lester frequents the dumpkeeper’s home quite frequently. This is perhaps because Lester likes to ogle the old man’s daughters. He cannot keep his eyes or his mind off of them. He constantly thinks about how they are developing. While visiting, he teases the girls, most likely hoping to entice them into some kind of sexual foreplay or relationship. Lester is obsessed with their sexuality. He is amazed that they run off with local boys and have sex. As he has never experienced this with someone, he longs to have some type of sexual relationship and the promiscuous girls seem to offer him the best chance at achieving this goal.

Clearly it can be assumed that the fact that Lester was an outsider, had no one to teach him right from wrong, and was always rejected, is what leads him to commit the crimes he committed. When Ballard first comes across the abandoned car he had no idea what he would do. The crime was not planned or thought out, it was simply a crime of circumstance. As he gets closer to the car Ballard discovers a dead couple in the midst of having sex in the back of the car. Now to understand the situation the reader must remember everything they have read about Ballard to comprehend why he does what he does. Here at his disposal is a woman who cannot possibly reject him and his chance at what appears to be the only relationship he may have. So, he has sex with the dead woman. “He poured into that waxen ear everything he’d ever thought of saying to a woman. Who could say she did not hear him (88). After he finishes he decides to bring her back to his home. What happens in the following scene plainly illustrates how lonely Lester has been. He removes his own clothing and cuddles up next to the dead woman before falling asleep. The following day he demonstrates his commitment to this relationship by spending the majority of his money on clothing for the dead woman, instead of saving it for food or other basic needs.

When Lester’s house burns down and the dead woman burns with it he becomes very distraught. This woman was the first person he’d had a relationship with since his father died and the only woman he had ever known physically. Once remembering what it was like to be in a relationship with someone and actually being in a sexual relationship, Lester is not ready for it to be suddenly gone. So while what happens next is morally wrong, Lester cannot recognize it as such. He starts a killing spree and shoots a number of young women to satisfy his need to be in a relationship.

Ballard had no idea what he was doing; he never stepped back from it all and asked himself if what he was doing was right, simply because he had no capacity to rationalize. He would have continued killing if someone had not stopped him to tell him what he was doing was wrong. In many ways he was like a child, an extremely dangerous child. He had never been taught right from wrong. He had no one to show him how things were done. He was just a lonely young man who only wanted to be accepted by his fellow townspeople.

(S.L. 2010)


The Will to Survive Powered by a Unique Relationship
In this essay, B.P. discusses Cormac McCarthy’s depiction of human will to survive and the importance of a strong relationship as told through “The Road.”
In a world of hopelessness and despair a man and his son walk hand in hand, heart in heart along the long and unforgiving road. They make this journey for only one reason; to survive. The world, completely grey, stripped of plants and animals and absent of decent human life is not a place one would want to live and yet many refuse to give up. “Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.” McCarthy inserts these characters in said treacherous conditions to put the will to survive to the test. Many inhabitants of the dying world have turned to cannibalism and other extreme measures in order to survive. However, the man and his son rely on each other in order to survive.
McCarthy makes the significance of the father son relationship obvious throughout the whole novel. The father’s love for his child is the reason for everything he does; the child’s innocence is a small glimpse at hope. "He knew only that his child was his warrant. He said: If he is not the word of God God never spoke." Together they try to spread the “fire” across the hopeless Earth. Their love for one another is what keeps them going when all seems lost and it powers their will to survive. This is what sets them apart from the others; they live for one another. The father does not want to leave his son alone is the God forsaken world and so his will to survive kicks in. McCarthy uses the man and his son to demonstrate that a strong relationship can shed light in even the most dark of times and that nothing can separate them. "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.
Okay."
McCarthy’s point is that the will to survive becomes stronger when one has something to live for. The man’s wife, the boy’s mother, decided that she had nothing to live for and she killed herself leaving the boy and man with each other. This gave them both something to live for and fueled their will to survive. It would have been easy for the father to give up if he didn’t have his son to protect, once again stressing how a relationship with someone can give one enough reason to live even in hell like conditions. "I will do what I promised." He whispered. "No matter what. I will not send you into the darkness alone." The diction and language that McCarthy uses throughout the novel (such as in the previous quote) helps to demonstrate the strength of the relationship between the boy and his father.
In desperate times, it is innate for the will to survive to take over. McCarthy suggests that the will to survive strengthens when one has something to live for. In “The Road,” McCarthy depicts his beliefs through the relationship of a man and his son as they try to survive in a desolate world. They live for one another which makes their relationship unique and their will to survive strong. Cormac McCarthy brilliantly describes the ultimate test of human will to survive. He focuses on a man and son who have a relationship that can survive all of time and also fuels their will to survive for one another.

(B.P.)

Human Nature Leading to Human Extinction
In this essay B.P will analyze Cormac McCarthy’s belief that human’s need for war and violence will lead to human extinction as demonstrated through his novel “Blood Meridian.”
Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West” manages to capture the history of violence as foreshadowing of what is to come. The unsettling title is a gateway into the crude and dark world of human violence. Blood Meridian creates the feeling that we are edging closer to the brink of existence. McCarthy shows us the aftermath of that end with the publication of “The Road”, his novel of the destroyed world and the end of life and society as we know it. But the explanation of that end, and the warning of its terror lies in the violence expressed in Blood Meridian. McCarthy uses violence as the main theme of “Blood Meridian.”
McCarthy demonstrates the potential of human evil in the character of Judge Holden. Every aspect of the judge, from his appearance to his actions, contribute to his iconic, terrifying stature as the eye of the “storm”, a focal point for the novel’s violence. Throughout the course of the novel, McCarthy crafts Judge Holden as a deeply layered character a man, witty and intelligent but a murderer at his core. Through him McCarthy shows the brutality of the human spirit. Even before exploring the frightening life of Judge Holden. McCarthy establishes the shape and influence of his character in numerous physical descriptions. When the novel’s protagonist, a runaway youth simply labeled “the kid” first encounters Holden, we see the initial descriptive passage conveying his appearance: “An enormous man dressed in an oilcloth slicker had entered the tent and removed his hat. He was bald as a stone and he had no trace of beard and he had no brows to his eyes nor lashes to them. He was close on to seven feet in height and he stood smoking a cigar even in this nomadic house of God…His face was serene and strangely childlike. His hands were small” (McCarthy 6).The Judge’s unusually large stature and hairless body, described this early in the novel, build the foundation for his characterization as a larger-than-life symbol. Several other elements of his character also contribute to the formation of a whole that adds up to something different than the normal man. Holden’s “serene and strangely childlike” face sharply contrasts with his capacity for brutal violence, and his dainty hands are similarly mismatched in comparison to his massive body. McCarthy’s first description of the Judge also foreshadows the series of increasingly dark events that he takes part in: after the Judge destroys a preacher’s reputation with a few simple lies, the preacher cries “This is him. The devil. Here he stands” (7). Holden simply strikes down a force of righteousness, and soon states that “I never laid eyes on the man before today. Never even heard of him” (8). McCarthy expertly uses the kid’s opening encounter with the Judge to establish him as a mysterious character, and his confrontation with the reverend also creates a divergence between the Judge and religion. McCarthy’s early physical descriptions of the Judge gradually shift to encompass the full power of his character. McCarthy doesn’t dive into the war hungry and violent core of Holden’s character until late in the novel. While his physical stature and cunning are apparent early on, McCarthy waits to unveil the violent edge of the Judge’s character until later in the novel. In one of Blood Meridian’s most chilling passages, the Judge purchases two puppies from a young boy, just to kill them: “He crossed upon the stone bridge and he looked down into the swollen waters and raised the dogs and pitched them in” (192). Holden’s casual murder of the innocent animals adds to the capability of human cruelty. Shortly after killing the dogs, Holden explains to Toadvine why he keeps a diary of the things he encounters in nature:
“Whatever exists, he said. Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent…These anonymous creatures, he said, may seem little or nothing in the world. Yet the smallest crumb can devour us. Any smallest thing beneath yon rock out of men’s knowing. Only nature can enslave man and only when the existence of each last entity is routed out and made to stand naked before him will he be properly suzerain of the earth” (198).
Holden’s powerful statement indicates his opposition to nature and capability of violence. Further, the statement is a powerful endorsement of the Judge’s new order mentality, destroying anything. After the slaughter of countless Indians and shortly before the bloody end of Glanton’s scalp hunters, Judge Holden fully exposes his fearsome perspective on human existence and its never-ending entanglement with war and death. His explanation serves as an effective way to understand the heart of the evil McCarthy tries to show us in “Blood Meridian.”
“War. War is your trade. Is it not? And it ain’t yours? Mine too. Very much so. What about all them notebooks and stuff? All other trades are contained in that of war. Is that why war endures? No. It endures because young men love it and old men love it in them. Those that fought, those that did not” (248-249). Holden fundamentally claims that war is the essence of human nature, the definitive controlling influence in the world. He goes on to state that “War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god” (249). This quote by judge shows the human ability to commit sin and make war. Blood Meridian is full of unpleasantly murdered victims, making it clear that McCarthy condemns the practices. As Blood Meridian draws to a close, the Judge kills off characters including “the kid.” In an odd scene, judge does not use weapons to kill the kid, but merely his grasp killed him. The judge who represents violence and evil grasps the kid who represents the rest of the world. This is McCarthy’s attempt to convince the reader that if humans do not change their need for violence we will all be destroyed.

(B.P)


Blood Meridian:
In this essay, J.P. will analyze Cormac McCarthy's use of violence and immaturity to characterize change in the protagonist of Blood Meridian.
Cormac McCarthy’s characters in the novel, Blood Meridian, are seen to alter throughout the events of the narrative, chiefly due to his use of violence and immaturity. Even the protagonist finds dramatic change throughout the novel, and finds it primarily due to the afore-mentioned thematic notions.
The protagonist, only referred to as either “the kid” or “the man”, would stand to be a glistered example of such. As the novel introduces him it is made evident that the kid has no living family save for those McCarthy claims he will never know. It is also made evident that he is only fourteen years old and is wandering the American West alone. The conclusion can be easily derived there that he has not had much of anyone to teach him the craft of adulthood or to bestow upon him any large modicum of wisdom or maturity. This is supported by the only name we are provided with for him, “the kid”. What mature adult is referred to as a kid at every mention? None. Moreover, after he meets Judge Holden, who would become an anti-hero and an eventual total antagonist, and after he joins the Glanton gang, violence becomes a constant driving force in his experiences. The Glanton gang takes him as a member and begins to scalp wanted Native Americans for their small bounties or warrants, but the kid never indulges in these acts, instead choosing to refrain from violence. As the Glanton gang becomes more sadistic and cruel, they happen upon Judge Holden, who promptly joins their ranks. With Holden, the Glanton gang begins to scalp and kill Native Americans for a perverse satisfaction more than for any monetary gain. Still, the kid refuses to partake in the violence. And eventually, once the Glanton gang has been nearly destroyed, and almost every member killed, Holden begins to hunt down the kid. The kid is seen to have many opportunities to strike back at Holden or even kill him, but he still strays from any acts of violence. Years later, after many other events have taken place, Holden has ended his campaigns on Native Americans, and on the kid as well. Now, the kid is no longer referred to as “the kid”, but instead as “the man”. As he is now considered a full grown adult with decades to his name and adventures to his belt, he has become fully matured. When again he meets Judge Holden, Holden gives a small speech accusing the man of coming to dance, referring to the supposed dance of violence which Holden had always endorsed and lived by. As “the kid” would never have stood up to Holden, “the man” there does, and he states, “You aint nothing.”, and goes on to infer that Holden is only an ignorant animal by noting the presence of a dancing bear and further stating, “Even a dumb animal can dance.”
The kid was young and immature, he had had no family to raise him except a gang of scalp-hunters, and he had few experiences, if any, in the American West. He became quickly shrouded in a haze of increasing violence, and his refusals to engage in it helped to shape him. He had been jailed repeatedly because Judge Holden had told lies and he had been too immature to stand up for himself. As he became an adult, signified by a new name from his creating author, he was endorsed with maturity which finally allowed him to deny Judge Holden’s lies and accusations, and to tell Judge Holden exactly how he had always felt about him. As he had matured and had been introduced to all manners of violence, the kid had invariably and undeniably been altered.
(J.P. 2012)

Child of God:
In this essay, J.P. will analyze Cormac McCarthy's use of isolation, violence, and immaturity to characterize change in the protagonist of Child of God.
Cormac McCarthy often personifies his characters with many themes and motifs. Despite often being unrealistic in many manners, especially those which would be thought heinous, disgusting, or cruel, these characters also often have some reason to be so personally decrepit. Lester Ballard, the primary character of his novel, Child of God, would be categorized likewise for the use of themes as isolation, violence, and immaturity.
Lester Ballard starts the novel as an already grown adult, directly released from prison. As he breaks through a crowd of auctioneers and bidders placing bets on his only home, the information is presented that Ballard had caused trouble long before this when the state had seized his house and property. It is also given that Ballard has never had any living family and is incapable of any form of proper or rational relationship. As his home is being taken away, he stops the auctioneer by threatening to shoot him. He gets punched by another civilian, and knocked unconscious. He interacts with old friends and nature, and squats from home to home for some time. As the novel progresses, Lester becomes more animalistic, doing whatever he needs to survive, acting more and more recklessly without any modicum of dissenting thought. Where Ballard starts the novel threatening auctioneers who sell his home, he eventually becomes a thief, stealing whatever food or supplies he needs to live, and even becomes a serial murderer, pedophile, and necrophiliac.
The progression is clear, he neither starts the novel murdering women and children and raping their limp, dead bodies, nor does he end the novel only threatening those who offend his ability to live as he pleases. He starts the novel with a home; ends it in a cave. He starts it with friends; ends it alone. His descent is quite clear, but underlying it are other themes and motifs which give him cause to descend. Although his actions are heinous, they are sensible from a purely animalistic standpoint. Whenever he wants something, he takes it. It is never out of malice, never out of evil, only out of satisfying his current want, need, or desire. If something threatens his survival, he runs from it or he fights it. He doesn’t look to cause trouble, he looks to satisfy his desires, whether ordinary or twisted, and looks to survive and live longer. This animalistic nature is provided by his life, one distorted by violence, immaturity, and isolation.
He never had a living family to help raise him, thus it was by his own studies of society that he would learn what was right or what was wrong. If no one else was there to raise him and teach him these things, then he had to observe them, but Lester Ballard was not a social person. He had very few friends, none of which appear to be close to him, and he had mostly attempted to distance himself from the rest of the world. He owned a home in the woods and spent his life there hunting or raising crops. He was, by the author’s admission, incapable of any real relationship, and was therefore alone his entire life, learning from nothing else but himself and from nature. Animals fight for what they want, and if they are threatened their minds resort to an instinctive reflex of fight or flight, attack or escape. This is what he learned from his life of isolation. And it is supported by his lack of understanding in human society. Why was his home seized? He thought his territory was his because he sat in it, and he didn’t realize he was supposed to pay taxes. When he meets a young girl, a minor, he states, “How come you wear them britches? You cain’t see nothin.” In society almost any person would know instinctively that a young girl’s body should be covered and should not ever be looked, especially by a full-grown adult, in any kind of sexual way. Here, Lester either does not recognize that social ideal, or he does not recognize the difference between child and adult. Either scenario is an example of an immature view of the world. The violence of his actions furthers this end as the threats on the auctioneers is only due to that he wants to keep his home. His illegal squatting is only because he needs a home to replace that which he lost. Thefts supply him with the food he needs, and his rape is a matter of sexual desire and an animalistic nature. He only kills the women because his immaturity and animalistic wiles deem him incapable of a relationship with the women, and he still wants to fulfill the unsatisfied desires.
Ultimately, Cormac McCarthy’s character, Lester Ballard, is dynamic in his progression from a reclusive squatter released from prison to a serial killing necrophilic pedophile due to McCarthy’s use of violence, isolation, and immaturity. Where he had no family to raise him, and never immersed himself in society to understand its rules, Lester Ballard had to learn his own dictations from his life in nature. Where he was disgusting or violent, immaturity was a cause, and isolation a root of that. His modeling of himself for nature, his animalistic qualities were his reasons to fight, to threaten, to steal, to murder, and even to rape.
(J.P. 2012)


How the Will of Two People Can Bring Them Across the Country
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

[In this essay F.L. analyzes how the determination of a father and son will take them through a post-apocalyptic world and also how little things will provide meaning to these people.]

“Barren, silent, godless. He thought the month was October but he wasnt sure. He hadnt kept a calendar for years. They were moving south. There’d be no surviving another winter here,” (McCarthy 4).
A father and his young son have been living in a post apocalyptic world by scavenging for supplies in abandoned houses and other people they happen to run into. All they have are a few supplies and a pistol with two rounds in it. Neither one of these people would be able to live without the other. These two people will continue to push themselves until they have reached the shore where they believe they will be safe. The father and son almost give up a couple times but discover a bunker full of food. The idea of faith if mentioned a couple of times and the father starts to doubt that there is even a God.
“You have to carry the fire. I don’t know how to. Yes you do. Is it real? The fire? Yes it is. Where is it? I dont know where it is. Yes you do. It’s inside you,” (234). The father repeatedly tells his son that the two of them will be okay because they carry the “fire.” Fire symbolizes warmth and protection, but in this context it also symbolizes the drive and ambition that the child contains. His son is the reason the father continues on through the desolate world. This drive and ambition is strong enough to prevent the father and son from using the 2 rounds in the pistol on themselves. However, this thought has crossed through his mind on multiple occasions but the “fire” is strong enough to prevent this last resort from taking place. Also, fires have been burning throughout the country turning the sky to ash. These wildfires destroy everything in their path. This is contradictory to the “fire” that the son contains. This ambition cannot be destroyed or “burned.” Only the fire can illuminate the darkness that plagues these two people every single night. They are always needing firewood and searching the area for this essential resource.
A recurring symbol throughout the novel is a map. This map was once a whole piece but now is in multiple pieces. Whenever the father and son need to locate where they are going next they need to take the map out of their cart and piece it together. This is symbolic because the world is unrecognizable at this point. The two people need to take pieces and put them together just to recognize the world they are living in today.
“It’s not that bad. The man was trying to kill us. Wasnt he. Yes He was. Did you kill him? No. Is that the truth? Yes. Okay,” (227). Throughout the novel, the father and son have limited communication, keeping all of their conversations very simple. They use a maximum of 4 or 5 word sentences. They are very close emotionally however. They only know each in the world and the father is the only person that the son has ever known. This causes an extremely strong relationship to form between these two people. The age of the son is never mentioned but it can be assumed that he is about 8 or 9 years old. He is old enough to comprehend and have his own thoughts and perform his own actions. In the end of the novel, the father succumbs to a respiratory infection and the son must leave on his own. However, he joins another group that allows this child to join their “family.”
There are many small creature comforts that give the father and son extra drive to continue on and fulfill their long journey and end at the shore.

(2012 F.L.)



Constant Back and Forth of Characters does Enhance the Meaning
No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy

[In this essay F.L analyzes how switching between the three main characters enhances the story and how the story itself relates to the outside world.]
McCarthy switches between Chigurh, Moss, and Sheriff Bell throughout the entirety of the story. Chigurh is a crazy killer who will stop at nothing to recover the money that Moss had taken from the cars that he had found in the desert. He uses this technique to portray the story much easier. The reader is shown a certain aspect of the story and then later on, when the character switches, the reader is shown how this specific action had taken place. This technique causes mystery about how the certain events had taken place but then resolves this mystery later on with a different character. This enhances the overall quality of the novel. This story is about a normal hunter in Texas that is in way over his head by taking the money from the cars.
This situation is a common one in today’s society. The drug trafficking is a major problem on the Mexican border and McCarthy utilizes the problems with the real world to validate his stories. He describes multiple guns that Moss, Chirgurh, and the Sheriff use throughout the novel.When Moss tries to cross the border again, he is stopped by customs and they question him. This is true for any person that seems suspicious trying to enter the United States of America. This further validates the quality of the novel.
In the end of the novel, a reader would expect the Sheriff to find Chigurh and kill him and Moss and his wife to be okay. However this is not the case. Evil triumphs over good in this story which is contradictory to a reader’s expectations which causes surprise and shock which also enhances the meaning of the novel as a whole. The Sheriff also learns a lesson in the end of the story. He wishes to help everyone and believes that he is unstoppable and can help everyone. However, in the real world not everyone can be helped and Cormac McCarthy portrays this through the use of Sheriff Bell’s failure. McCarthy shocks his readers and this causes his novels to be enriching.
“I said what’s the most you ever saw lost on a coin toss. Coin toss? Coin toss. I dont know. Folks dont generally bet on a coin toss. It’s usually more like just to settle somethin,” (McCarthy 55). Chigurh uses a coin toss to determine the fate of the people he runs into. This chance describes how ruthless the character of Chigurh is. He will leave a human life which is something that can never be taken back up to the coin. The people have a 50/50 chance of dying.

(2012 F.L.)