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All The Pretty Horses By Cormac Mc Carthy Individualism Vs. Society

1660 words - 7 pages

The concept of what is "individuality" and what is not has plagued and delighted man since the dawn of time. “All the Pretty Horses” by Cormac McCarthy adds 302 more pages to the pile of all the works that have been on the quest to define individualism. In this novel, McCarthy takes us through four faces of the key character’s life, John Grady, to portray the idea of illusory individualism. He contends that John Grady is simply a product of a society in contrast to his (Grady) notion of free will. Simply put: Grady has no alternatives but an obligation to conform to society. McCarthy uses him to create the platform in which to comment on oppression of individuality, expectation of conformity to the values of the society and the fact that the concept of individualism is a myth.

McCarthy’s plot is built around a teenage boy, John Grady, who has great passion for a cowboy life. At the age of seventeen he begins to depict himself as a unique individual who is ambitious to fulfill his dream life – the life of free will, under the sun and starlit nights. Unfortunately, his ambition is at odds with the societal etiquettes. He initiates his adventurous life in his homeland when he futilely endeavors to seize his grandfather’s legacy - the ranch. John Grady fails to appreciate a naked truth that, society plays a big role in his life than he could have possibly imagined. His own mother is the first one to strive to dictate his life. “Anyway you’re sixteen years old, you can’t run the ranch…you are being ridiculers. You have to go to school” she said, wiping out any hopes of him owning the ranch (p.15). Undoubtedly Grady is being restrained to explore his dreams, as the world around him intuitively assumes that he ought to tag along the communal traits. Nonetheless, optimistically he attempts to elude societal suppression by hunting greener pastures elsewhere. His gives us an insight of why McCarthy chose a vaquero character over a mere lad. A battle of an individual and society requires perseverance; hence a stubborn, ambitious cowboy personality was pertinent for the McCarthy’s main protagonist. Thus, the heroic acts John Grady performs are not more than what can be expected from a cowboy .

Realizing that he is fighting a losing battle, John Grady decides to chase his idealized imaginings, thereby subtly shifting the focus from his lack of control over the fate of the ranch to his assumption of control over his own fate. He then rides down south to Mexico with his companion - Rawlins. Their journey from San Angelo to Mexico seems to be accomplished flawlessly and easily. “I could get used to this life,” commented Rawlins on the imminent accomplishment of their dream – a care free life. Initially Grady, in accordance to cowboy notions, succeeds in implementing his passive personality. Firstly deserts his home land without proper goodbyes to anybody and secondly he was even contemplating on killing Blevins the first time they met (p.41). However, his...

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