This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.
I dont see what that has to do with catchin' birds.
The freedom of birds is an insult to me. I'd have them all in zoos.
Also known as Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West, this 1985 novel is Cormac McCarthy's magnum opus. An extremely dark and esoteric novel, it's a total deconstruction of the Wild West and Injun Country, and its main theme, such as it is, could be reasonably argued to be the darkness and ugliness at the heart of the American Dream. It was controversial when it came out because of its relentless scenes of amoral violence. It was named by literary critic Harold Bloom as the greatest American novel by a living author.The novel follows a teenage runaway, only known as the kid, who by coincidence stumbles into the company of the Glanton Gang. This troupe of historical scalp-hunters and later outlaws are employed by the Mexican government at Chihuahua to exterminate the native tribes waging war against the settlements of the surrounding countryside. Needless to say, it's not positive reading.Soon to be a film by Todd Field.
Shows examples of:
Affably Evil Toadvine and Tobin are sympathetic for being scalp-hunters, and sometimes act as father figures to the kid. Tobin is particularly fond of the kid, and the feeling is mutual; after the gang's defeat, when given the opportunity to join the judge or Tobin, the kid chooses Tobin, and the two flee Holden together.
Axe Crazy: John Joel Glanton, the leader of the mercenary gang, has killed so much he has gone insane. Many of his men are even more blood-crazed than he is, but not Judge Holden, who is the sanest man in the group.
Bad Ass: Monsters as they are, all gang members are seriously badasses.
Tobin the expriest. There is some in-universe confusion about just how much of a priest he really is/was (he claims to have only been a seminary student and no real priest, while the judge says he used to be a "respected Doctor of Divinity" at Harvard), but he's still pretty faithful to the Christian God in his own way, and doesn't really show the typical traits of the Sinister Minister.
Holden may not be a Christian, but his science lectures are more like sermons than academic discourses. Tobin even says that when Holden first joined the group, he gave a sermon on the nature of the world unlike any that any of the group had ever heard.
BFG: The judge during the Yuma massacre. "When they entered the judge's quarters they found the idiot and a girl of perhaps twelve years cowering naked in the floor. Behind them also naked stood the judge. He was holding leveled at them the bronze barrel of the howitzer."
Con Man: The reader's introduction to Judge Holden. He convinces a crowd that their preacher is a child rapist and a wanted criminal in another town. The crowd is soon worked up into a rage until they riot and lynch the preacher. Judge Holden later admits he made it up, and got the preacher attacked simply For the Evulz. The men in the crowd are at first horrified, then laugh and buy Holden a drink.
Contemplate Our Navels: Judge Holden is prone to discoursing on various esoteric or philosophical topics around the campfire, speaking with an odd eloquence his illiterate rapist companions obviously lack.
Curb-Stomp Battle: The Comanches absolutely decimate the filibusters early on. The Indian tribe suffers no casualties and only a handful of survivors escape. The kid is the only one alive by the next day.
Darker and Edgier: Compared to every other story set in the Old West, even the violent and profanity-laced Deadwood, this one is by far the darkest of them all.
Although, of course, not really albino, he fits the trope given that he's paler than anyone living in the Mexican desert has any right to be, and when he loses his hat he's variously described as burning and peeling skin.
Faux Affably Evil: Judge Holden is often an eloquent gentleman, who takes off his hat for ladies and whores alike.
Genius Bruiser: The judge, who is strong enough to kill a man with his bare hands, but is also eloquent and well-educated.
Gorn: Most of the book consists of the kid's travels through the deserts and prairies, intercut with sickening scenes of violence.
Look through enough scholarly articles on this book. At some point the word "ultraviolence" will be used, and expect at least one or two journals to proclaim it the most violent book ever written. There's more bloodshed in the first 100 pages than in the rest of Cormac McCarthy's body of work, easily. And the goriest scenes haven't even arrived yet.
Historical Fiction: John Joel Glanton was indeed a scalp-hunter who led the infamous Glanton Gang, and a lot of Blood Meridian is drawn from the account of one of his gang members. His employer, Charles Riddell ("Mr. Riddle" in the book) was also a real person.
Humans Are Bastards: Every single character; even the hero is a multiple murderer who later on carries a necklace of ears around his neck. The only possible exception is The Judge, as though he's the worst of the bunch, there's a suggestion he's not human.
Humanoid Abomination: It's difficult to walk away from the novel without suspecting the Judge to be this.
Infant Immortality: Horrifically averted, most memorably with the tree of dead babies. In one scene Judge Holden takes a small Indian boy captive after a raid on a village. He keeps the boy with him for the night, then murders and scalps him the next morning, just after he is seen "dandling him on his knee."
There's also the chapter where one of the scalphunters grabs two babies by the ankles and swings them against a rock, spilling their brains on the ground.
The Man Behind the Man: The never-seen Mr. Riddle is initially this to the Glanton Gang, which he has unleashed upon the natives of the Texas-Mexico borderlands. However, Judge Holden also fits this trope.
Nothing Is Scarier: The lack of description of the book's final death, the implied death of the kid, is a stark contrast from the rest of the book where scenes of brutal violence are described in detail. This seems to imply that the death is so shocking and gruesome that no possible description can give it justice.
Happens again when the gang finds a young boy selling dogs. Holden buys the dogs cheerfully with the trick of making a gold coin disappear and then making it appear from behind the boy's ear. He then throws the dogs into the river and shoots them, all with the boy watching.
Would Hurt a Child: Children seem to disappear and die whenever Holden is present. There's also at least two incidents where it's all but stated that he's raped them.
Zerg Rush: The Comanches travel in a colossal herd of animals and swarms their targets, disorientating them and then rushing in to kill them in the chaos. Captain White's filibusters don't realize how screwed they are until it's too late.