So here it is, the second half of the last chapter in the book. The kid, now 45, is in a riotous saloon in Griffin, Texas, known in the area for its whores and evil. At the center of all of this, probably not surprising to any of our readers, is the judge. “Watching him across the layered smoke in the yellow light was the judge.” (p. 325). What will happen? Continue reading
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
This 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
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
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
A 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
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.
The 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.