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Violence and other manifestations of evil should be prohibited and denounced so that society does not create the idea that it is appropriate to indulge in violence and go undetected, or that they may not suffer retribution or consequences as a result of their evil behavior. As a result, we should avoid glorifying evil to the detriment of something, whether good or bad. Writers/authors, too, have a role to play in stopping evil from manifesting itself in society. This is not the case with many authors seemingly glorifying evil and violence by the use of their characters that are depicted to have some supernatural powers beyond human capacity and are often used by authors to orchestrate evil and fuel violence. This is the case in Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” which is clearly a reflection of violence and domination by those in power and those able to control the violence. This is seen by the author’s use of protagonist, “The kid”, Glanton Gang and Judge Holden who are the main perpetrators of violence in the novel. The author uses these characters to depict that evil is justified and he even uses references from the bible such as bible verses to try and justify violence with several quotations noted in the novel. Judge Holden seems to be the one administering dominance on not only the Gang but also the entire society.
Thesis: A reader coming into contact for the first time with Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian” is likely to view the book as a violent book. This is because of how violence and evil is portrayed and glorified in the book with a depiction of violent murderous scenes.
McCarthy’s piece of art revolves around the period before and after Mexican-American War. The Glanton Gang is responsible for the ruthless killings in this period and they were dominant in the Midwest landscape. The kid one of the major protagonist in the novel also joins the Gang after fleeing away from home, he regrets this decision later though after he came to reality with the heinous acts that the Gang engaged itself in. The gang receives the backing of Judge Holden who seemingly buys the idea that evil is a remedy that is why he in a way supports the evil deeds being undertaken by the Gang (Broncano 13).
The author depicts that evil is beyond the understanding of the humans and is incomprehensible and thus man should strive to live with it. The acts and events that unfold in the novel clearly seem to portray the same perception. Judge even goes a notch higher in surfacing this assertion by stipulating that man is by nature evil and that the violence that is in the society is an evidence of the nature of man as evil. He even in so many instance quotes the bible and verses that seemingly suggest that violence is justified though his interpretation of the verses is in a way to justify the acts that unfold in the novel and the acts of violence orchestrated by the Glanton Gang. The gang also surfaces the claim that death is unavoidable which is rational but this does not justify acts of violence and evil being undertaken by the Glanton Gang and the overall depiction of violence and brutality in the novel. McCarty uses this reasoning though to try and justify that death is beyond human control in his bid to try and let his readers try to buy his idea that violence is justified and a nature of man
McCarty’s assertion that violence is a means of defining humanity portrays his support and backing of a violence-brewed society. According to him humans are by nature violent which is supported by the inhuman acts in the novel that he clearly portrays without even being considerate of the perception that he might create from his readers. The novel tries to generate the connection between violence and morality. The author tries to give a clear indication that there is a relationship between war. In his various quotations of bible verses, the author tries to use verses that relate to war such as when Judge Holden says” The good book says that he that lives by the sword shall pettish by the sword”. The interpretation of the author with regards to this illusion is that war is here to stay in the society whether we subscribe to accepting that war and violence are part of our being or deny them. The author’s act of quoting bible verses and using religion to justify violence and war is a way of trying to convince the reader of the novel that indeed it is justified for war and violence and war to exist in the society. The author therefore uses biblical illusion to try and justify and prove that there is a relationship between morality and violence (Hanssen 14).
Critics of McCarty’s piece of art argue that the book is not about violence but it is entirely violence itself. The title of the novel itself “Blood Meridian “is even symbolic and a reflection of what the novel entails and that indeed about bloodshed and heinous acts. The way the author also describes the bloody acts in the novel is a s if it is something normal that the society is exposed to in a day to day living. This should not be the case though from a rational and human point of view and inhuman acts and acts of violence that are bloody such as those witnessed in the novel should be concealed or portrayed in a way that it is considerate of the readers or audiences who are going to view this pieces of arts. Acts that involves loss of life in ways that are disturbing and bloody should not be glorified but rather rebuked and not given the attention that is given ion this novel. The author of this novel though does not seem to care about this though nor does he care about his audiences or readers. McCarty makes violence and evil seem to be part of living and even essential for the survival of mankind
Domination as portrayed in the novel is bestowed upon those who engage in war and those who are able to use violence to subject others to submission. In short the author tries to advocate that in order for humans to be dominant they ought to engage in war and become what he terms as earthy gods. Dominance is seen in the novel by the use of the character Glanton to depict how dominance can aid one to demand respect. The notion of domination is seen in the Judge who seems to dominate everything that come his way. He is engaged even directly to murder and abuse of children yet he does not receive any repercussion for this since he is like the authority. Through him, the author is able to communicate and put across his message that with dominance one can be able to engage in violence and evil acts and work away without anyone questioning their actions. The author therefore stipulates the relation between domination and violence as with domination, one can engage in violence and with violence one can be able to administer dominance on others.
Judge Holden is the main perpetrator of violence and the author of the novel depicts him as an advocate for war and violence in the novel. McCarty’s “Blood Meridian” is a reflection of pure tragedy accompanied with violent acts, massacres and heinous acts of violence that make the book itself a violent scene just presented artistically. Judge Holden attributes the existence of war to the fact that young people seemingly enjoy engaging in acts of war and violence and the old people also seem to be loving the engagement of war by the young men and therefore this is how war is propagated in the society. The Judge also stipulates that war is like fate and it is often the larger will wins the battle, according to him war is a battle of wills and the being with the larger will takes the day. The larger will and fate according to his argument is God on the basis that God is the one that determines the fate of anything. This led to his assertion that “war is God”. War according to him determines the fate of the world.
Judge Holden brings out the evil and the entire violence in the novel. He is seen as the evilest character in the novel let alone even the Gang who he uses to conceal his evil deeds yet he is the real evil. The act where he leads the Gang in creation of gun powder depicts that indeed he is evil and supports violence. He is seen dancing a dance that is perceived as a dance of war towards the end of the play and creates the notions that he is destined to live and he is not subject to die. He says that I will never die which brings out the question whether or not evil is going to last forever. This shows how evil is considered superior and evil people often live no matter how you wish that they can die.
Imagery in the novel is used to depict how evil had been there and is still with us whether we like it or not. The author gives an account of a 300,000- year old skull which and an image of Gang running across the African wilds which shows how deep rooted war and violence is on humans. The author uses this imagery to try and justify the acts that Glanton’s Gang in the novel are engaging in and it is through this that McCarty’s “Blood Meridian” justifies that violence and evil in the society existed long time ago and unlike people who come and go, evil remains and is beyond humanity.
On the basis of the discussion above then it is evident that McCarty’s “Blood Meridian” is itself as a piece of art that is violent rather than talking about violence. It tries to glorify and justify violence and evil which should not be the case as violence brings more harm than good and there is nothing good about violence. McCarty’s efforts to try and associate humanity and violence is irrational, the efforts to try and link the Bible with regards to war is not a justification enough to advocate for violence in the society. In conclusion therefore evil and violence are not acts that deserve to be glorified but condemned.
Broncano, Manuel. Religion in Cormac McCarthy' S Fiction: Apocryphal Borderlands. Routledge, 2016.
Hanssen. "“Men are made of the dust of the earth”: Time, Space, Matter, and Meaning in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian." The Cormac McCarthy Journal, vol. 15, no. 2, 2017, p. 177.
McCarty, Cormac. “Blood Meridian”. Vintage, 1992
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