Essay, Pages 4 (946 words)
In Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses, he uses blood as a unifying concept. John Grady Cole’s devotion is compensated in blood. The brutal image of blood and violence is morbidly displayed throughout the whole novel. It is an important symbol and a repetitive element because it symbolizes the cost John Grady pays for everything he loves. It also represents the world around him and helps to define the attractiveness it has, despite the difference in violence and delicacy.
There are three things John Grady adores that he pays for in blood: his life, horses, and Alejandra. The presence of John Grady exists within the use of blood, intertwining his life to natural beauty and animals. Blood is crucial for the human race, we need it to live, once enduring the pain we learn and if we lose it all, we die.
The color red is shown several times throughout the novel, implying the vicious world that John Grady lives in and the bloody landscape that surrounds him.
For example, at his grandfather’s funeral, the landscape is defined as “the sun sat blood red and elliptic under the reefs of bloodred cloud before him” (McCarthy 5). In this scene, McCarthy depicts a vivid illustration of the history between Americans and Native Americans; the bloody battle in which they fight for control over the land. He uses blood in order to achieve his dreams and make them into a reality, which is actually John Grady falling back into the real world by setting out to a different country.
McCarthy later describes the ghosts of Comanche warriors who appall that same road John Grady is riding on as being “pledged in blood and redeemed in blood only” (McCarthy 5). Specifically, the battle is like a contest between which groups can shed the most blood and can only alter the previous deaths by causing more bloodshed. John Grady soon realizes that America can no longer give him the life he’s looking for. Therefore, he leaves Texas with his best friend, Rawlins for Mexico. John Grady believes Mexico can satisfy his dream of succeeding and owning a ranch. He also wants to set free the trapped horses so they could roam around more naturally and freely. He had always hoped for a dream like this.
However, in order to live a normal spirited life in Mexico, John Grady had to pay for his life, love, and Blevin’s horse in blood. The complicated love between Alejandra and John Grady is indicated through blood during their romantic scene. “Drawing blood with her teeth where he held the heel of his hand against her mouth that she does not cry out” (McCarthy 142). In this quote, John Grady uses his hand to make sure Alejandra keeps quiet about everything they are doing. In turn, Alejandra bites down on his hand to silence his passion, which causes him to bleed. Similarly, another incident occurred in which John Grady was forced to protect himself in jail. The quote “from the red boutonniere blossoming on the left pocket of his blue workshirt there spurted a thin fan of bright arterial blood” (McCarthy 201), describes John Grady struggling to save himself and in doing so murders the other prisoner, thus resulting in blood again.
Furthermore, John Grady pays for Blevin’s horse in blood as he tries to escape with it when “he looked down at his leg. His trousers were dark with blood and there was blood on the ground. He felt numb and strange but he felt no pain” (McCarthy 266). This occurs right after John Grady has been shot while getting back Blevin’s horse at the end of the book. He had been shot and bleeding nonstop. He once again is paying for his love with blood. He has become used to this idea of getting hurt, and in turn, he no longer feels the pain. Horses often appear in the novel as an evasion from the world for John Grady, sometimes viewing the horses as superior to humans. “The horse had a good natural gait and as he rode he talked to it and told it things about the world that was true in his experience to see how they would sound if they were said. He told the horse why he liked it and why he’d chosen it to be his horse and he said that he would allow no harm to come to it” (McCarthy 242). John Grady expresses his love and desire to maintain the horse’s sense of an unfallen spirit by speaking directly to his horse and promising to allow no harm to it.
In conclusion, tragic events are what make the world admirable and make people appreciate the little things in life. If it wasn’t for John Grady paying for his actions/wants, he wouldn’t be able to see the elegance in the world. All the bloodshed in the novel is used to create John Grady’s identity and make him realize what things in life are worth fighting for and what isn’t. Blood is what ties everyone together in the old west. Everyone has the same pure/free blood, but not many people take advantage of it. John Grady learns to embrace human nature after being released from prison, he corrects the violence inflicted onto him and seeks vengeance as the last step in his rite of passage. McCarthy reveals that violence and bloodshed are an unavoidable part of the human condition. The idea of blood is used in the novel to imply the life force. Blood is seen as linking forces that tie the lives of men to the lives of horses, and to the history of the Old West.