In this passage from the novel The Crossing, Cormac McCarthy uses imagery and word choice to describe the dramatic religious experience of his main character who becomes conscious of the spiritual unity of every soul in the natural world, because of the death of a she-wolf he had formed a connection with. McCarthy conveys to the reader that the main character is going through an intense, and somewhat frightening, spiritual experience through his religious imagery and dramatic word choice. The main character is shown first with clothes that are “stiff with blood” from holding the wolf, and he “cradled the wolf in his arms and lowered her to the ground.” He could feel that the wolf “was stiff and cold and her fur was bristly with the blood dried upon it.” In the dark of the night he can hear the howling of coyotes that “seemed to have no origin other than the night itself”. This description in the first paragraph sets the dramatic mood for the entire scene. Also from the way the man treats the wolf the reader can infer that the wolf was in some way important to him. Especially with the fact that latter he mentions that at dawn he would find a place to bury the wolf adds to the emotional connection between him and the wolf, why would this man go through the trouble to bury the animal if he did not have a serious emotional attachment? After the character has set up a fire and sits down for the night, he looks around his surroundings and describes it as “a wilderness where celebrants of some sacred passion had been carried off by rival sects or perhaps had simply fled in the night at the fear of their own doing”. Choosing such specific and dramatic imagery for the scene would indicate that character is himself having a passionate spiritual experience. Not only that but that it frightens him, which would fit with the dark and dramatic setting/ mood. This is also supported by the fact that the man fell asleep “hands palm up before him like some dozing...
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