In All the Pretty Horses, Cormac McCarthy uses blood as a unifying concept allowing it to flow within the body of the text; the reader gets a sense that the novel is giving life to someone while simultaneously bringing upon its death. The reality of John Grady exists within the use of blood, connecting his life to the natural beauty and animals through which his character emerges. Blood is essential for the human race; we need it to live, once having bled we learn and if we lose it all, we die. Nonetheless, blood associates us to the world around us; its flow so similar to the flowing waters, its color so alive and “nothing can be proven except that it is made bleed.” (p.230)
The presence of death lingers in the coldness of the air as John Grady rides out and dreams about the lost nation: “The wind was much abated and it was very cold and the sun sat blood red and elliptic under the reefs of bloodred cloud before him.” (p. 5) this suggests that perhaps not all died with the death of his grandfather. The atmosphere changes from dead cold to warmness by the presence of blood, indicating that life still runs through that death; it is John Grady’s growth. He is aware that because he is a minor he had no say in adult business especially about the cattle ranch, his only option is to go on a journey in which he would be able to make his own decisions. McCarthy uses blood to bring dreams closer to reality which is actually John Grady sinking back into the real world by setting out to a different country. “The laminar bands of color to the west bleeding out under the hammered clouds” (p 137) He captures the beauty of the scene while the blood emphasizes the seriousness of this world ...
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...hroughout his journey views blood his own, his friends’ and that of the animals. Each scene contributes to his growth as a person who is becoming an adult. The most vivid image of blood was produced in the prison as John Grady and Rawlins were constantly getting bruised during the fights. But the blood that they shed in this prison is a representation of their fight against the reality that even in this enclosed world they did not have say on what happens. After having seen the blood of Rawlin’s stab wound John Grady learns to stand up to those who are restricting him which makes him a strong person. It was this experience that made him less afraid to do things for those he loved.
Cormac McCarthy builds the character of John Grady through the use of blood. A person whose youth is bleeding away and through his growth he has learned to stand up for what he loves.
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