Cormac McCarthy was raised in a Catholic home and even attended a Catholic school. Being a part of that denomination, it is no wonder that his novels incorporate a dark themes and ideas that suggest harmonious living between all human beings is impossible, as we all possess aggressive instincts and have lived in such a way that suggests life cannot be achievable without bloodshed. In McCarthy’s first instalment of the Border Trilogy, All The Pretty Horses features characters that live their life in a hurricane of evil that is only escapable in death.
The novel opens with the death of the grandfather of John Grandy Cole, a sixteen year old boy who grew up on said grandfather’s ranch in Texas. After the funeral, John discovers that his mother plans on selling the ranch to allow her to move to the booming city. Because the ranch and the ‘roughing it’ lifestyle is all John knows, he chooses to leave Texas with his friend Lacey Rawlins, and go to Mexico in search for adventure and hopefully a better life than his mother planned on giving him in Texas.
John and Rawlins find work on the ranch of Don Hector, and John soon proves himself a remarkable hand and shows a great deal of understanding for horses. Impressed by his knowledge, Don Hector puts him in charge of breeding the ranch’s horses. While on the job, John is introduced to and becomes infatuated with Hector’s daughter Alejandra.
When Hector finds out, he sends John and Rawlins to jail. After being bailed out by Alejandra’s aunt, Alfonsa, Rawlins returns to Texas, while John stays behind to reunite with Alejandra even though he has been warned about the dangers of seeing her. He finds Alejandra, but finds that she does not love him as he loves her. Heart broken, John returns to Texas. He finds that his father is dead, the ranch has been sold, and Rawlins acts as if he forgot all he and John went through together. The novel ends as John is riding into the sunset, off for another adventure.
From the start of the novel, with the death of his grandfather, we get the impression that John is struggling through the difficulties that the age of sixteen presents him with. Being so young, he is just beginning to get an understanding of what the world is around him. Then with the death of his grandfather and everything he knows hanging in a perilous limbo, it is the first occurrence that suggests that happiness for John is unachievable. John is then portrayed as sitting with his horse, staring into the sunset. At this moment, John understands that he is living in a world of blackness, and like most young adults, he is searching for his identity in the world and for meaningfulness and fulfillment.
John goes to a play of his mother’s and looks for significance in it. He believes that the modernist and restrictions and standards of the city are not for him. Being a free spirit, he gets his inspiration to leave his hometown from the landscape. Flat and never ending, John...