In Cormac McCarthy's Child of God, Lester Ballard is a recluse who is shunned by the people of his community. Because of his morose nature and his bizarre habits, he stands out among the small rural community. The rejected Ballard turns from being a harmless recluse to a murderer. While he is clearly a victimizer, he is also a victim himself. He is the victim of his own ostracization from the community that he was a part of. While the victimization that he suffers cannot justify his violent actions, it provides some explanation of how Ballard has reached the point of being a victimizer himself.
Lester Ballard is a loner who is forced off his property and takes refuge in an abandoned barn hidden in the woods. He does not have a job and often has difficulty in his associations with the people of his own town. He supports himself from day to day on what provisions he can find in the woods and what he can manage to afford from town. He spends his days wandering through the woods or through town. He rarely associates with any locals and he takes more delight in whisky than in the presence of others. A couple of stuffed animals that he wins at a fair take their place as his only company. The corpse of a young woman that he stumbles upon in the woods becomes his first sexual companion. Ballard treats the corpse as he would a wife, buying clothes for her, whispering into her ear, and laying her down beside him when he goes to sleep. While these actions seem deranged, they also seem to be his way of finding the nearest replacements to the social company that he has been denied in life. Unlike the young women in town, the dead corpse of a woman cannot make fun of him or be insulted by his ...
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...e would suffer. The people of his community always had low expectations of Ballard to begin with, and they gave him no reason to fear what they might think of him.
Lester Ballard is a victimizer of innocent people, and this is the result of his own isolation . Although little insight into his mind is provided, the existing evidence of his way of life has provided some explanations into why he has committed these crimes. The members of his community, wanting to distance themselves from any association with Ballard, has coincided with the evolution of his bizarre actions. Thus Ballard is completely unrestrained by any concept of helping society. He is the product of a society that has turned its back on an individual that they would rather look down upon than be associated with.
McCarthy, Cormac. Child of God. New York: Vintage Books, 1973.
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