Alex Henderson ENG 41. 11 Ms. Taylor November 19, 2013 Literary Connections: Blood Meridian by Corm McCarthy Violence Is often used in literature by antagonists to symbolize evil and darkness, and to represent the brutal force that opposes the characters. However, In the novel Blood Meridian by Corm McCarthy, this Is not the case. Violence In Blood Meridian Is not used as a symbol of evil by the antagonist, but Is used by all the mall characters, Including the protagonist, as a way of life.
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Blood Marmalade Is a fictional novel that documents the events of a character who Is referred to as only “the kid”, as e joins the Glutton gang, a scalp hunting gang who targets Native Americans living around the united States-Mexico border in 1849. This novel is full of ruthless acts of violence in nearly every scene, which are seemingly mindless and unnecessary. Although violence is most commonly considered a voluntary action of man, this novel proves the notion that violence is unavoidable, and that violence is the inherent trait of man which will result in the downfall of the human race.
Corm McCarthy uses the three epigraphs in the novel to support this premise, and uses them to monster how individuals will progress from committing violent acts for the sake of violence, to committing violent actions to further themselves in life, which then leads to the downfall of the characters. Through the first epigraph, the novel introduces the notion that violence is unavoidable, and that violence is the inherent trait of man which will result in the downfall of the human race. The first epigraph is an excerpt from an essay written by philosopher Paul Vale©ray, titled “The Yale”. The Yale” Is an essay that covers the events of a war between the Japanese and Chinese In 1895, where the Chinese were sighting against what they saw as the worship of technology, science, and Individualism, all ideas that the Chinese were against. Paul Vale©ray writes from the view of the Chinese, addressing how the Japanese worship of Intelligence Is Ill advised. He writes, “YourIdeas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as If they were Irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time” (Vale©ray 373).
Page 2 Violence in Blood Meridian Essay
McCarthy selects this quotation to be part of the epigraph because It Isan example of a battle between en for the sheer sake of violence, an idea that will be seen in the beginning of the novel. “The Yale” is the river in which the Japanese and Chinese battled, and the Chinese were victorious. Though the Chinese won the battle, it is widely agreed upon that there was no true victor, and that this battle was a situation where both parties could not continue. This is very significant because it shows how men will commit violent acts for the sake of violence, an idea that McCarthy uses within the novel to develop the theme.
The first instance occurs in the bar at Boxer. The Kid gets in an argument with the bartender about working to pay for a beer, rather than using cash. The Kid, when confronted with a conflict, does not hesitate to use drastic violence. The kid simply “broke the right one [bottle] over the man’s head… And he backhanded the second bottle across the barman’s skull and crammed the Jagged remnant into his eye” (McCarthy 25). The Kid, the protagonist of Blood Meridian begins the novel with actions of violence that are unprovoked and unnecessary.
The idea that the kid will participate in violence for the sake of violence falls in line with the idea of the iris epigraph, and are both used to support the theme that the inherent violence in man will result in the downfall of the human race. Furthermore, the second epigraph of Blood Meridian suggests that man is evolving into a creature that commits violent actions to further themselves in life, a second step towards the trait of violence leading to their downfall. The second epigraph is a quotation from Jacob Behemoth, a German philosopher whose main subject of concern was the nature of evil and sin within man.
Behemoth wrote about darkness and evil and its relationship to sorrow, in his paper Six Theosophical Points. He says, “It is not thought that the life of darkness is sunk in misery and lost as if in sorrowing. There is no sorrowing. For sorrow is a thing that is swallowed up in death, and death and dying are the very life of the darkness” (Behemoth 60). McCarthy selects this quotation for the second epigraph because it is a representation of men feeling desire to commit violent acts. This idea is not directly stated in the chosen quotation, but in the culmination of Bonhomie’s paper. “.. O Boomed, in order to reach God, man has to go through hell first” (Engine 518), says F. Von Engine, an accredited German author at the time. Behemoth believed that salvation through God required suffering, and the endurance of evil such as violence. Behemoth lived in the 17th century, a period where creationism was the dominant belief, and when stated that salvation could only occur through suffering it gave man a reason to enforce suffering upon one another. Violence was a desirable act because it was believed to bring salvation, an idea that was crucial to men in the 17th century.
Men would be willing to do whatever it takes to further themselves, and in this case they would take violent measures. The idea is used by McCarthy as the characters progress throughout the evolve. In particular, the character of Judge Holder has a horrifying desire to commit violent actions. Judge Holder’s life revolves around war, competition and the violence that he enforces upon those who compete with him. The Judge believes that war creates unity in life, and that humans need to go to war to create that unity.
He provides insight into his beliefs, stating that, “war endures. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence. War is god” (McCarthy 259). This statement shows how the Judge’s beliefs that the violence produced by war ill create unity, are analogous to Bonhomie’s belief that the suffering of man will result in their salvation. Judge Holder saying that “War endures” (McCarthy 259), is similar to the saying in Christianity ‘God endures’, which draws parallels between the such as Jacob Behemoth, express.
Blood Meridian uses an appropriately selected second epigraph to present the case that humans have a desire for violence, a second step toward the downfall of man via their inherent violent nature. Lastly, the third and final epigraph communicates a direct correlation between the downfall of man and their inherent violent nature. The last epigraph is a newspaper clipping from the Yum Sun in 1982, claiming that archaeologists had found evidence suggesting that a precursor to modern day humans had participated in scalping.
The article reads, “Clark, who led last year’s expedition to the Afar region of northern Ethiopia, and US Berkeley colleague Tim D. White, also said that a re-examination of a 300,000-year-old fossil skull found in the same region earlier shows evidence of having been scalped” (1982, peg. 4). McCarthy selects this as the final epigraph because it foreshadows the fate of the scalpers within the novel, and because it bevels the violent nature of man leading to the downfall of a species of human in the real world.
This quotation suggests that violence has been embedded in human culture dating back to humanoids that existed 300,000 years ago, and that these cultures will inevitably self destruct.. Blood Meridian conveys the same concept as the epigraph by through the death of nearly every character in the novel, specifically the protagonist, the Kid. Nearing the end of the story, the Kid has his final encounter with the Judge, an encounter that shortly results in his elimination from the novel. When the Kid goes to the lakes, or the outhouse, he finds the Judge waiting for him.
The Judge “gathered [the Kid] in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh” (McCarthy 333). The reader knows that when a stranger opens the door a few minutes later, his reaction is to say “Good God almighty’ (McCarthy 333). The reader also knows that the Judge emerges from the Jakes but the Kid is not mentioned again in the novel, and that the Judge then enters the saloon dancing, and says that he will never die. The presumption is that the Kid has been murdered and sexually assaulted, due to the Judges previous inclinations towards the sexual assault of children, and his brutal assaults on Indian people.
The downfall of the Kid, who has been shown to have a violent nature in the beginning of the novel, illustrates the downfall of a human race that is engulfed in violence, and the foreshadowing of the third epigraph coming true (extinction of the scalpers). Both the final epigraph and the downfall of the Kid work cohesively to prove that the inherent violence of man will lead to the downfall of the human race. In conclusion, violence in Blood Meridian is not merely a symbol of evil or rankness, but a way of life.
McCarthy uses the three epigraphs, as well as those ideas translated into the plot of the novel, to show the process in which violence will lead to the downfall of civilization. Characters will commit violent acts for the sake of violence, will commit actions to further themselves in their lives, and will eventually reach their undeniable demise. Violence can been seen everyday. Anywhere in the world, at any given moment, violence will be taking place. Although violence is considered to be relevant to those who chose to participate in it, Blood MeridianSee More on Human