The Brutal Men of the Old West
Death everywhere you turn, having no one to trust, and having to survive in the harsh landscape of the West is no easy life. Being able to kill recklessly without any punishment. Everything being so corrupt, that government’s pay people to kill. This was the lifestyle of a westerner during the 1850s who were also dehumanized and corrupt because they killed others for profit. During this period cults would kill Indians, children and woman alike, and recieve rewards from the government for bringing back their scalps. In Cormac McCarthy’s western American classic, Blood Meridian, the author uses violence to exemplify the brutality of men and how inhumane westerners in this period behaved. Throughout the novel, Blood Meridian, members of the Glanton Gang kill Indians and take their scalps in exchange for money from the Mexican government which shows how corrupt not only the people are, but even the government during this time period. “Adopted from an actual episode dating from the late 1840’s, when the Mexican government paid American mercenaries episodes of slaughter and mayhem” (Parini 180). This proves to readers that this book is not completely fiction and gives the reader an idea of what is happening less than two hundred years ago. The Glanton Gang relentlessly kills people inlcluding the elderly and children alike. “He took the skinning knife from his belt and stepped where the old woman lay and took up her hair...and passed the blade of the knife about her skull and ripped away the scalp” (98). This is a perfect example of how McCarthy exerts explicit detail to show how heartlessly the Glanton Gang killed Indians. Glanton abruptly shot the woman in the back of the head before scalping her. An innocent woman being slaughtered without reason shows how humans will do anything to satisfy their limitless thirst for wealth. Throughout the entire book there are endless deaths, but not all are of which are Indians which shows another example of how crazed and inhumane westerners acted in this period. Towards the end of Blood Meridian, there is a dancing bear on stage in a saloon that gets shot without reason. “He was holding his chest and a thin foam of blood swung from his jaw and he began to totter and to cry like a child and he took a few steps, dancing, and crashed to the boards (326). The way McCarthy described the bear’s death is almost as if it were human, perhaps even a child. During this time frame in the West, the people acted ferocious and barbaric; not only towards others, but towards the wildlife as well. “The unnatural acts here are many--nature as captive, forced to dance on a stage, crying like a child, its death as the shedding of blood without meaning or significance” (Spurgeon 1). It is slightly understandable that the people here are corrupt by killing each other for their own benefits, but to harm animals which have done nothing wrong is considered even more shallow. The death of the bear shows a slaughter of innocence and how inhumane the westerners were for killing an innocent bear. The nameless protagonist of Blood Meridian, the Kid, travels with a cult and the reader learns how he changes from an innocent boy to a ruthless man through his experiences and interactions with the West and the people in it. At the end of the book, when the Kid is fully grown, he is killed by Judge Holden. The author, oddly enough, does not describe the Kid’s death in great detail as McCarthy does to others. Although it was not blatantly stated, the Kid was not only killed but raped as well. “He was naked and he rose up smiling and gathered him in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh and shot the wooden bar latch home behind him” (333). The only reason for the Judge to be naked after killing the Kid is if he raped the Kid. Throughout the novel, there are many hints that lead towards the fact that Holden molests children as well. “Shortly before the killing, Holden remarks that...
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