OK, so it seems like we’re all pretty confused with a few things
1. What is Cormac McCarthy’s purpose in including the excessive scenes of violence
2. Who is the narrator of the book?
3. What is the deal with the inconsistency in writing styles?
After reading and thinking during today’s discussion, I’m pretty convinced that there is a direct connection between the three of these questions.
Starting from the beginning, my initial reaction to the first page of the book was ‘Oh please tell me the rest of the book isn’t written like this’. It was so hard for me to follow the choppy sentences and ambiguous references. But shortly after I realized that the text deviates between descriptions that simply state “The kid rose. Toadvine stood up and waited. They could hear the flames crackling inside the room. The kid tapped” (McCarthy, 13) to elaborate descriptions such as “the facade of the building bore an array of saints in their niches and they had been shot up in the American troops trying their rifles, the figures shorn of ears and noses and darkly mottled with leadmarks oxidized upon the stone” (McCarthy, 28). That sentence alone was longer than the four sentences combined in my earlier example.
Why does McCarthy switch his style of writing so drastically?
During McCarthy’s descriptions of the violence the Kid encounters, such as the massacre described on page 56, the whole page only consists of three complete sentences and one of them takes up half the page alone. Why does McCarthy draw so much attention to these scenes of violence, that we decided dictate the events of the book, as established during class (credit to Brenna). I guess so far I’ve only rephrased everyone else’s questions, but I think these questions are an intended product of McCarthy’s writing style. As a reader, McCarthy’s dark, violent nature he creates in the book should be easily recognizable from the first page that describes how the kid “broods already a taste for mindless violence” (McCarthy, 3) as Lindsey mentioned. Even the title is indicative of violence.. BLOOD Meridian.
So I guess my point in all of this is that everyone seems to be complaining about how uncomfortable and excessive the violence is in Cormac McCarthy’s book, but I argue that we should forget our own personal preference to whether or not descriptive massacres make as feel uncomfortable or not. Hopefully you’re not ‘numb’ to these descriptions like Lindsey describes the Kid to be, but maybe it was McCarthy’s actual intent to generate these exact feelings within the reader, possibly to even actually detach the reader from the Kid. Wouldn’t you think that McCarthy would give ‘the Kid’ a name if he intended the audience to sympathize with him? I don’t know if I’m veering in the wrong direction but I have a feeling that McCarthy uses all of his techniques of changing his writing style, including extreme violence, and making the identity of the narrator ambiguous to CREATE discomfort and unfamiliarity so the reader can approach the text through a new lens.
We talked briefly at the end of class about the word Pastiche. I think McCarthy purposefully applies this to his text to force the reader to view the actions of the Kid from a distance, to force the reader to question his actions and really watch his every move. I predict that if the reader takes this hint from McCarthy, he/she will be able to notice subtle changes in the Kid over the extent of the book. I’m not feeling a very obvious 180 degree change in the kid by the conclusion. By following the Kid’s actions closely, and noticing any subtle change, the growth or potential transformation of the Kid will be much more meaningful. Everyone knows that feeling of success when you solve a riddle. Well I believe that’s exactly what McCarthy’s setting up for us, a confusing riddle. I bet he would apologize for making us feel uncomfortable as we try to solve it, but I think feeling uncomfortable will pay off with something much more in the end. I’m just not sure what that is yet, and I think that’s how McCarthy wants it.