The sanctity of blood

Reinhard Hackl
2013 unpublished
The aim of this thesis is to examine the connections between violence, redemption, and regeneration in three of Cormac McCarthy's most important works, and to determine whether there exists between those seemingly contradictory concepts a causal relationship that predicates the process of regeneration on the presence of violence. The works selected for close analysis are Outer Dark (1968), Blood Meridian (1985), and The Road (2006), novels united by a complex of violence and moral devastation
more » ... at frames the characters and the stories in a way that does not readily allow for a redemptive reading. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the functions of violence, and to discover in what way redemption and regeneration might be possible for McCarthy's characters. The novels' protagonists all have first-hand experience of bloodshed, and their guilt is what keeps them indentured to the system of violence that is in McCarthy's works. The violence in the three books examined serves as a foil, a hard counterpoint, to the characters' inner development and the decisions they make. The damaged heroes and flawed sinners of McCarthy's bleak narratives are doomed to pursue broken lives full of cruelty and ill luck. What is of interest for this thesis is whether they will become able to counter that doom, and how they go about resisting it. In McCarthy, the promise of regeneration is merely hinted at; it is a thing on which one has to speculate, but there are a number of clues suggesting that redemption is possible. The changes are often subtle, occurring in small, seemingly inconspicuous ways, but they can be neither denied nor ignored. The lesson that seems to prevail in so many of McCarthy's novels is that men persevere not just despite the darkness of violence but because of it. Without the manifestations of evil in the world that McCarthy goes to such painstaking lengths to describe, human goodness would be of no consequence. Violence gives meaning and order to the author's world. It is a necessary element which his chara [...]
doi:10.25365/thesis.28721 fatcat:rxl5outa7nbi7ckkgr53g5geb4