Blood Meridian, Epilogue- “[B]ones and the gatherers of bones and those who do not gather”

stone on fireDunces!  The epilogue is brief, just a single paragraph, but I think it merits its own analysis.  The first line provides: “In the dawn there is a man progressing over the plain by means of holes which he is making in the ground.” (p. 337).  The dawn?  Is this dawn of the next morning?  The dawn of time?  Who is this man? Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Nineteen- “You done been paid.”

blood meridian sky Huge developments!  HUGE!  THE HUGEST!!!

Okay, this was a great and exciting (but also bloody and disturbing) chapter.  Tempting to jump to the end, but that’s not how we do things here at the good ship Dunce Academy.  But hang in there; it will be worth the wait. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter 18: “Damn if you aint a sorry specimen.”

night riverThis has got to be the shortest chapter in the book, consisting of maybe just a line or two over three pages.  But there are some profound points to consider, particularly as pertaining to the view of zealous Christian religion and the behavior of the judge. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Seventeen: “[M]ore things exist without our knowledge than with it.”

National Geographic Picture- dunce academy blood meridian book review mccarthyINTRODUCTION

There are chapters where things happen and there are chapters where things are said.  I love them all, but especially love the chapters where the judge holds court.  And this one is a doozy. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Sixteen: “In the desert were drag marks.”

desert-background-with-cactusINTRODUCTION

Lost scouts, found scouts, wild bulls, and lots of drinking, this was another rowdy chapter.  It increasingly seems like all these men have a death wish, or at least a death indifference.  But the judge keeps smiling, and they keep on drinking and dancing.  One gets the distinct impression that things are about to get a lot uglier too.  We’ll see. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Fifteen: “You think I’m afraid of him?”

High Desert PlainsA new contract, a lottery, an escape, a sacrifice.  Oh, and the ogdoad (i.e. a group or set of eight) [shiver].  The chapter heading is rich with the promise of big, wild events to come (note: these chapter headings are increasingly becoming one of my favorite parts of Blood Meridian) .  Glanton’s group leaves Ures rather quietly, just three days after arriving. (p. 204).  They have a new contract for Apache scalps signed by the governor of Sonora.  Carroll and Sanford, the newest members of the gang, and never really a part of it, decide that they have had enough, and “defect.” (Id.).  But the group gains a new member, a boy named Sloat, left sick to die by a gold train passing through weeks earlier.  Apparently there is a commodore with the same last name, and there is a funny exchange between Glanton and the boy about whether they are related.  Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Fourteen: “Whatever in creation exists without my knowledge exists without my consent.”

quicksilver burrosINTRODUCTION

There are three major events in this chapter: (1) the group’s visit to the small stone town of Jesús María; (2) the group’s visit to Ures, the capital of the state of Sonora (curious, I looked on a map, and Jesús María is about 1570 kilometers, or (by my rough guesstimation) approximately 981 miles away, through hard, mountainous territory); and (3) a really, really bad day to be a mule or a muleteer in between.  At the end of Chapter 13, Glanton’s gang has killed and scalped Mexican soldiers, burned their uniforms, buried their bodies, and turned the scalps in for bounty.  There is a very vivid image of the group re-entering the city “haggard and filthy and reeking with the blood of the citizenry for whose protection they had contracted.” (p. 185).  Perhaps not surprisingly, they leave the City of Chihuahua in somewhat of a hurry, going north as if headed for El Paso.  But before they are even out of sight, they turn west “toward the red demise of that day.” (Id.).  There are repeated inferences that the group is “cursed.”  Cursed or no, they are certainly a curse to everyone they encounter.

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Blood Meridian, Chapter Twelve, Part II: “There’s enough to go around.”

red lake disasterThe indian slaughter chapters are the most gruesome, shocking, and unforgettable.  They are also some of the most vivid and beautifully, if terrifyingly, written.  Chapter 12 continues as Glanton’s band has found the Gileños and they are preparing for attack at first light.  Glanton gives a rousing speech of sorts: “When we ride in it’s ever man to his own. Dont leave a dog alive if you can help it.” (p. 155).  Every man for himself?  Glanton will show just how true this is before the encounter is over.  “How many is there, John?” one man asks.  “There’s enough to go around,” answers the judge.  Indeed.
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Blood Meridian Chapter 5 – “Sometime come the mother. Sometime the wolf.”

snarling-wolf

If you cry for help, you might get this fellow on your heels

If you’ll recall, chapter 5 of Blood Meridian comes on the heels of the Indian attack that concludes chapter 4. The endless, horrific, unforgettable Indian attack. This is the point where the chapter headings always start to make me uneasy. We’ve now seen a bit of what McCarthy is capable of as far as violence and imagery, and suddenly we’re alerted to the fact that chapter 5 will include…

Tree of dead babies

Ugh…. Continue reading

Blood Meridian, Chapter Four – “[D]eath seemed the most prominent feature of the landscape.”

The chapter begins with the kid on the dead Missouri boy’s horse, and life (i.e. death) goes on.  “Following” seems an important concept in this chapter; pay close attention to who is following whom, and when the following stops.  The kid follows the riders and wagons on the journey south.  They cross “del Norte” (in Mexico the Rio Grande is known as the Rio Bravo del Norte), and enter the “howling wilderness.”  You get the distinct impression that, whatever has come before, what lies ahead is somehow more wild and ferocious. Continue reading