Sunday, November 29, 2009

Characters ~ Modern Analogies

Below are my intepretations of the characters from other books and real people so everyone might understand the characters better.

The Judge: Robert Wadlow, the tallest man, plus Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest plus the Devil.

Robert Wadlow 8ft 11in         


Glanton: Ted Bundy, serial killer, plus Han Solo

Ted Bundy                Han Solo                                     

The Kid: Tom Sawyer

Tobin: MLKJ because he refuses to shoot the judge and he's an expriest.

The Hermit, a minor character who mentors the Kid in the beginning of the evils of humans, is equivalent to Rafiki from the Lion King.

David Brown: Bill Ayers, for his radical nature.

Captain White: Stonewall Jackson for his white supremacist beliefs.

I may add more later but for now, this is it.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Rhetoric Study

Page 312-13:

"He saw men killed with guns with knives and with ropes and he saw women fought over to the death whose value they themselves set at two dollars. he saw ships form the land of China chained in the small harbors and bales of tea and silks and spices broken open with swords by small yellow men with speech like cats. on that lonely coast where the steep rocks cradled as dark and muttersome sea he saw vultures at their soaring whose wingspan so dwarfed lesser birds that the eagles shrieking underneath were more like terns or plovers. He saw piles of gold a hat would scarcely have covered wagered on the turn of a card and lost and he saw bears and lions turned loose in pits to fight wild bulls to the death and he was twice in the city of San Francisco and twice saw it burn and never went back, riding out on horseback along the road to the south where all night the shape of the city burned against the sky and burned again in the black waters of the sea where dolphins rolled through the flames, fire in the lake, through the fall of burning timbers and the cries of the lost. He never saw the expriest again. Of the judge he heard rumor everywhere."

Within the paragragh, McCarthy uses some of his best rhetoric in the book. For instance, "He saw" appears at the beginning of every sentence save the last one and even within some sentences and provides parallelism. There are also two great similes in the excerpt. In the first,  he compares the speech of Chinesemen to cats, which portrays the racism of the period. In the second, he compares eagles and smaller birds becaues, in contrast with the vulture, the eagle looks petite. This could be a sign that all of the virtures of America (freedom. honor, etc) are overshadowed by the qualities of the vulture, mostly death and scavengery. Next there are some personifications giving things like the coast and the sea feelings like lonliness and mutter-like chatter. This section of text is plagued with choppiness due to the varying sentence legnths, especially the long sentence at the end. Finally, I believe that three epanalepsi are set one after the other towards the end of the paragraph. (They are underlined). McCarthy attempts and succeeds in characterizing the growth of the Kid to the Man and creates and efffective transition that sums up all of his travels.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Far From Home ~ Vic Mignogna lyrics and Blood Meridian

I realize that these lyrics carry a hopeful quality which contradicts that of Blood Meridian's mood. But there are some lines that apply to journeying, especially involuntary journeying, that I think carry meaning with Blood Meridian. In fact,  the rest of the lyrics that include love and the such can be considered direct opposites to that of Blood Meridian. Even though this song may seem a stretch because of that, it is really because there aren't many sad journeying songs about death, so I make do with what I have. Enjoy. And here's a site if you want to listen to the song:

Oh what a world to take my breath away

From canyon deep to star above

All take their place to start the symphony

of a great big love

I've seen the valley from the mountaintop

Sailed cross the blue and back again

From east to west

Majestic tapestry I can't comprehend

(but that's not where I long to be)

(That's not where I long to be…)


Now I'm stuck here

But I don't belong here

Though my heart and soul are inclined to roam

Time is coming when I'll be with my Jesus

But for now I'm far from home

(ye~ah yeah…)

(though I'm a stranger in a strange land…)
This land can be a lot of fun, yeah

I'd start a list of all that thrills me

And never get done

(but that's not where I long to be)

(That's not where I long to be…)


Now I'm stuck here

But I don't belong here

Though my heart and soul are inclined to roam

Time is coming when I'll be with my Jesus

But for now I'm far from home

Shubidee doo badow [repeat]

Diggadum dum badow

(That's not where I long to be…) [repeat]


Now I'm stuck here

But I don't belong here

Though my heart and soul are inclined to roam

Time is coming when I'll be with my Jesus

But for now I'm far from home

(Now I'm stuck here but I)

I don't belong here

Though my heart and soul are inclined to roam

Time is coming when I'll be with my Jesus

But for now I'm far (so far)

I wanna be where you are

Maybe I'm not so far from home
1)In the second stanza, the lyrics state that they've been to a lot of places and seen many things that they "can't comprehend." For the Kid, this is interpreted as things that don't make sense: killing Indians for their scalps and for profit.
2)The next part says, "Now I'm stuck here but I/Don't belong here." The Kid, being fourteen years old, certainly doesn't belong in a world with murderers and thieves. A big concept in the book is fate. Supposedly, the Kid has many choices on whether he wants to stay with the scalping gang or not and always chooses to stay.
3)When the lyrics talk about the heart and soul being "inclined" to roam, I think it means that we are all, in a sense, nomads, moving from place to place, whether that be through life, physically, mentally, or spiritually. The Kid is inately a wanderer and doesn't slow down for anyone. He is always running from someone or something.
4)Now as far as anyone is concerned, Jesus had nothing to do with the Kid, at least in the sense that G-D, and therefore Jesus, had no place in the forsaken land past the Blood Meridian.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Symbolism _Part 2

There is a second group of symbols that does not deal with tarot cards. These symbols are more elusive and vague in their definitions but are nonetheless important. For instance, on the first page, their is a reference to the Kid's birth. It mentions the Leonides, which are a famous meteor shower that happens to have its most famous debut on the Kid's birthday, in 1833. Later in the book, the name of the Pleiades are invoked. They can either represent seven women giving birth or seven orphans who were mistreated and became stars. Interestingly enough, the story explains the Devil's Tower in Wyoming was created when a bear chased the maidens and tried to claw its way up to the heavens.

The hermit mentioned in Symbols_Part 1 makes an interesting statement: "They is four thinks that can destroy the earth, he said. Women, whiskey, money, and niggers." Not only did I think this gave important insight into the time period, but might foreshadow something that has to do with those four things. So far, whiskey has led to the death of a comrade (one of White's one), while money has led to the quest for Indian scalps and lead to a whole lot of trouble. Women and blacks I haven't seen so much as helping to "destroy the earth" as providing useful thoughts on prejudice. Women and blacks are viewed us a subclass of humanity evidenced by the treatment of the black John Jackson by the white: "You don't get your black ass away from this fire I'll kill you graveyard dead." Also, the few women that help the Kid are left unthanked: "As he passed the house the woman came padding out after him. When she saw him put his foot in the stirrup she began to run. He swung up into the broken saddle and chucked the mule forward. She stopped at the the and watched him go. He didn't look back."

One last symbol would be the Mennonite that talks about the Wrath of G-D. "The wrath of G-D lies sleeping. It was hid a million years before men were and only men have the power to wake it. Hell and half full. Hear me. Ye carry war of a madman's making onto a foreign land. You'll wake more than just the dogs." What he means is that humans have the power to choose right from wrong like nothing else. So, their actions speak directly as to who they are and what type of person they are. G-D's wrath is used as a means of solidifying his argument that people have what's coming to them.

Character Study

The Kid is a Tennesseean who cannot read nor write and is described as, "not big but he has big wrists, big hands. His shoulders are set close. The child's face is curiously untouched behind the scars, the eyes oddly innocent." Later in the book I would be surprised if his eyes were half so innocent, but it makes no reference to them. His mother died in childbirth, he never met his sister, and he left his father when he was fourteen.  Also, within the kid, "broods already a taste for mindless violence." Throughout the book, the Kid's response to a conflict is always brute force (That's why there isn't much talking).

Judge Holden (aka the judge) is a priest that stands almost seven feet tall and is completely bald. He is an oddball and very hard to read. He is often described as "pale" with a "childlike" face and small hands. There are a few references to him being the devil: by the Reverend Green (a minor character), whom he got killed; in one part, he walked through a campfire, "like a great ponderous if he were in some way native to their element." Later, when Tobin reminisces about the judge's first appearance, they go through a "malpais," or bad country of volcanic rock. Here, there are numerous references to him making some "terrible covenant" with Glanton, and "little devils" and "devil's batter."

Louis Toadvine is an older friend of the Kid's and, in the beginning, burns down a hotel with him (for no apparent reason). They go their separate ways but meet up again when the judge and Glanton recruit them for scalping Indians. There, he talks with Bathcat (a minor character) about hunting the Indians and later accompanies the Kid to a Mexican Cantina. He is described once as "a man with long hair," and, "His head was strangely narrow and his hair was plastered up with mud in a bizarre and primitive coiffure." He also had the letters H and T burned onto his forehead and an F in between his eyebrows.

Captain White is a white supremacist who thinks that all Mexicans are "degenerates" with no government. He believes that it is his job to "come in to govern for them." When confronting and scalping a hoard of Indians, in which Sproule (a minor character) and the Kid are the only ones to escape, the captain is taken. It is later found out that he was beheaded and his head pickled.

John Glanton is a professional Indian hunter who gets money for their scalps. He is in charge of a group of, "...
viciouslooking humans mounted on unshod Indian ponies...." He once tested out a gun on a cat that, "just vanished", two birds that, "exploded in a cloud of feathers", and a goat that, "fell stone dead," for fun. He also shot a defeated looking women that had, "neither courage nor heartsink in those old eyes." After "A fistsized hole erupted out of the far side of the woman's head in a great vomit of gore...," he calmly asked for, "the receipt." (the scalp)

Benjamin Tobin, also called "the expriest," is a member if Glanton's gang and tells the story of how the judge and Glanton met and formed their alliance. Being an ex-priest, he is aware of the judge's philosophical nature and disagrees with him on a number of things. I would rank him as the third most educated in the book behind the judge and then Glanton, with Captain White as fourth.

John Jackson is a name shared by a black and a white. The black kills the white when tensions are roused and received the fool tarot card by the jugglers, which entails embarking on a journey with optimism. The judge and Glanton often keep information from him, although there doesn't seem to be a reason other than him being black.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Blood Meridian and American Culture

Blood Meridian  illustrates the underlying motifs in American Culture and explores the brutality with which Americans can go about pursuing their goals. For instance, during the set time period, the ideology of "manifest destiny" played a huge part in the American expansion to the West. This "obvious" destiny was that America would accrue more land until it went from the East coast to the West coast, while the consequences of such a pursuit would mean the loss of many lives in gruesome fashions. Every American wanted a part of this fabled land, and didn't mind killing for it.

In the beginning of the story, a character named judge (he's a priest) walks in on a sermon by a Reverend Green and accuses him of rape and usurpation of the position of minister. After the reverend is killed, he later admits when questioned that he never met the guy before that day. Everybody was silent at first, but then laughed and drank and completely did not care about what was done. In other words, as long as they weren't the ones in trouble, it didn't matter who was. This portrays America as a country where the just can be unjustly accused. Even though it remains to be seen whether or not the Reverend did rape an eleven-year-old girl or not (he acted slightly suspicious), the point is that anyone can accuse anyone else of anything and get away with it.

Clashes of emotion that lead to violence are a common occurrence in the book. Americans are known for their strong wills and appearance of strength when it comes to conflicts. When the Kid travels with an injured Sproule, Sproule states that his arm stinks. But when asked by the Kid if he wanted him to look at it, he says, "What for? You caint do nothin for it." The Kid tells him to suit his self, of which he replied, "I aim to." In other words, Sproule didn't want the Kid to do anything about it, he just wanted someone to notice and to express his sentiments about his injury. Sproule wished to assert that he would do what was best for him. Ironically, at times when he says he'd rather stay at one place or another, he ends up following the Kid.

Symbols_Part 1

Blood Meridian's symbols resonate with a power that leaves the reader in awe of their strength. The first group of symbols I encountered point to the godlessness of the Wild West and the destruction that followed. A prominent symbol that I came across was the "dead baby bush." To me, it was an obvious reference to the Burning Bush in the Bible. But instead of a holy bush, it was an unnatural mark upon the land. Whereas Moses looked away in respect, the Kid and Sproule stare shamelessly at it. The babies are even described as "larval to some unreckonable being," meaning that they were so young they couldn't even be considered individual humans. Then, the tremendous amount of defiled churches with vultures and buzzards in them, eating at a slaughtered human or animal, which represents the church as a place for the forsaken rather than the blessed. In one church,  American soldiers had practiced their shooting on the statues of saints that left the saints decrepit and deformed. In another, many murdered people "lay in a great pool of communal blood" with a "dead Christ" on the floor. In short, G-D had no presence in this country.

A family of jugglers tags along with the Kid's group for a while, and, one night, begins to tell fortunes via tarot cards. These cards give great insight into three of the characters:

     1) The Kid picked the four of cups, which symbolizes a self-reflective (sometimes selfish) attitude. The card itself is a picture of a young male pondering over three cups in front of him, while ignoring a fourth cup beholden by a floating hand, possibly G-D. The reversed or upside down version of the card means a failure to self-reflect. It is hard to pin down where he self-reflects because there are no thoughts expressed in the novel. But he always seems to survive while those around him perish, which suggests a survival instinct or a self-preserving attitude. Also, the card can mean something undesirable will happen to the querent (person having their fortune told) unless they contemplate and open themselves to other possibilities. Currently, he is with people who scalp Indians for profit, so that must be what he should rethink.

2) The Black John Jackson (there's a white one named John Jackson, too) chose the fool, a special card in tarot reading. The fool represents the self-actualized person; the person who can be anything he wants. It signifies the start of a new journey. Due to the bad relationship between the black and white Jacksons, when the white one shooed the black away from his campfire and the black refuses, a fight starts. It ends with the beheading of the white Jackson and, therefore, the beginning of a new life for the Black Jackson.

3) The last person to get a tarot card is Glanton, the boss on the Indian hunting expedition. He picks the chariot, which he subsequently drops. The chariot symbolizes overcoming inner demons and the need to attack something from the side rather than directly. The fact that the card is lost in the night, according to the wife of the juggler (who is also the diviner), means that a curse has befallen Glanton. She goes on to recite seeing a chariot with "no wheels on a dark water" and a "carriage of the dead, full of bones." It is unknown whether or not Glanton remembered something from his childhood and dropped the card or if it was an accident.

It is interesting to note that other tarot cards appear as characters in the book. So far, a hermit, which represents enlightenment or introspection has harbored the Kid and advised him on the evils of man. The jugglers themselves are the juggler/magician that has the ability to bridge the gap between heaven and earth, which they do when divining. The judge represents the devil tarot card that represents lust, earthly passions, and ambitions. This is not necessarily bad, but in the book I believe it to be so.