The Road: hopeful or hopeless?
I vote hopeful and cite this quote at the end of the book as my evidence:
“The woman when she saw him put her arms around him and held him. Oh, she said, I am so glad to see you. She would talk to him sometimes about God. He tried to talk to God but the best thing was to talk to his father and he did talk to him and he didn’t forget. The woman said that was alright. She said that the breath of God was his breath yet though it pass from man to man through all time.”
I’m not so certain that Blood Meridian is a hopeful book. I don’t think I’ve ever given a book 5 stars and yet felt so hesitant to recommend it to other readers.
In brief, the novel is loosely based on the real-life exploits of the Glanton gang who were on a mission in the mid-nineteenth century Texas-Mexico borderlands to scalp Indians. Their murders don’t end there. McCarthy reveals the darkest side of Manifest Destiny and this book is filled with staggering violence. And yet I think I agree with Harold Bloom in the introduction when he says:
“I urge the reader to persevere, because Blood Meridian is a canonical imaginative achievement…Television saturates us with actual as well as imagined violence, and I turn away...But I cannot turn away from Blood Meridian, now that I know how to read it and why it has to be read. None of its carnage is gratuitous or redundant…”
I don’t know if I feel as comfortable as Bloom apparently is in urging a reader on, but I will say that I found this book to be ultimately as anti-violence as anything I’ve ever read.
A central figure, and villain, is Judge Holden. He is absolutely terrifying and horrifying. He is intelligent, cultured, honey-tongued, seductive, seemingly immortal, almost magical, and pure evil.
One lone individual, the Kid, a runaway teenager, tries to resist the Judge. His characterization is fuzzier around the edges than that of the Judge, but also compelling.
I love the way McCarthy writes. I love the use of poetic and archaic language that forces me to get the dictionary out (or at least Google it), think and slow down.
This book challenged me. I will be thinking about it for a long time.