Department

English

Date of Paper/Work

5-2000

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Type of Paper/Work

Thesis

Advisors

Lon Otto; Robert Miller; Andrew Scheiber

Abstract

The desert country of the American Southwest is the perfect setting for Cormac McCarthy’s masterpiece Blood Meridian, a novel which raises questions about the relationship between humans and the environment. What is the human role in the larger ecological scheme? Is it to shape the stuff of creation to human will? The testing of “the kid” becomes a test for the reader of Blood Meridian who must confront the nature of the human heart. The tension between the landscape and the skyscape provides the focus for this ecological reading of the novel. In many ways, the land and sky become the protagonists of Blood Meridian, ubiquitous and powerfully present. McCarthy’s emphasis on the landscape is significant, especially when compared to other contemporary American writers who take the west as the setting for their work. Other novelists have addressed important issues of western life and history - politics, sociology, economics, and relations between native people and immigrants. But the landscape is central to Blood Meridian - it is a land that is in itself, all-encompassing and mysterious enough to be its own story. McCarthy’s representation of the landscape provides a dramatic contrast to the romantic notion of a virgin land waiting to be escaped to, settled, tamed and farmed. This reading of the novel addresses the book’s central message – humans confronting the real, physical world. The landscape of the places we inhabit, the terrain, the stones, the trees, the “bones of things” contain sufficient mystery for humans to ponder.

Keywords

ecological criticism, environment, landscape, western American literature; land; desert; Cormac McCarthy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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