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'he Contemplated The Wildness About Him, The Wildness Within'. What Does Cormac Mc Carthy Reveal About His Views Of The Relationship Between Man And The Land In 'all The Pretty Horses'?

2902 words - 12 pages

In ‘All the Pretty Horses’, McCarthy presents the reader with a protagonist whose magnificent connection with the land and, more specifically, with horses, extends into the metaphysical range, in terms of its spirituality and mysticism. It is this connection, and his Emersonian-like desire to embrace and enhance this unity which acts as a catalyst for John Grady’s departure from America. By 1949, America had become too technologically dependent to support John Grady’s more spiritual aspirations and the novel which is ‘grounded in the nostalgic, mythic remembrance of the Old West and American cowboys’ laments the loss of these ideals. The novel depicts John Grady’s attempt to resurrect a dying relationship between man and the land, taking him on a journey through the savage brutality and uncontrollable wildness of Mexico. In returning to America and the boundaries and lawfulness he was trying to escape, McCarthy suggests that John Grady has come full-circle. Indeed, Zill argues that John Grady’s return is synonymous with his disillusionment and his defeat and this psychological return is reflected by his geographical return, highlighting the intimate connection John Grady shares with the land.McCarthy presents John Grady as being nostalgic for a less technological way of living. His mother’s sale of the ranch on which he grew up symbolises the passing of the Old West and reflects what was happening on a broader scale in an increasingly modern America. Whilst the story is set almost half a century before McCarthy was writing, the feeling that America was lacking something, both psychologically and geographically, would have been incredibly poignant in 1992, given the political unrest following a one-term presidency. It is impossible for John Grady to retain his romantic vision of the cowboy life in America and he is forced into Mexico to attempt to recapture these ideals. In leaving America, John Grady and Rawlins are rejecting the American Dream, or at least its materialistic aspects. Their scorn for the avarice of the people they have left behind is clear in their derision when assuming that their friends are ‘in town about now pickin out their new cars and all’. Although the boys clearly abhor the material values of the American Dream, they embrace its spiritual components, in that an American man has the impulse and the right to explore the physical frontier. Even before they leave America, McCarthy posits the possibility for man to establish a relationship with the land. His idyllic, poetic description of the ‘trailing moss in the rips below the ford where they flared and twisted electric green in the morning light’ is dreamlike. In contrast with the majority of McCarthy’s writing which is typically sparse and lacking in syntax, this lyrical attention to detail is conspicuous and suggests that McCarthy’s intimate connection to the land, like John Grady’s, enables a...

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