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 This is my claim, he said. And yet everywhere upon it are pockets of autonomous life. Autonomous. In order for it to be mine nothing must be permitted to occur upon it save by my dispensation.

 I dont see what that has to do with catchin birds.

 The freedom of birds is an insult to me. Id have them all in zoos.

File:Tumblr kxeatsrklJ1qar88i 4404.jpg

Also known as Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West. It is a 1985 novel, the masterpiece of Cormac McCarthy. An extremely dark and esoteric novel, it's a total deconstruction of the Wild West and Injun Country, and its main theme, such as it is, could be reasonably argued to be the darkness and ugliness at the heart of the American Dream. It was controversial when it came out because of its relentless scenes of amoral violence. It was named by literary critic Harold Bloom as the greatest American novel by a living author.

The novel follows a teenage runaway, only known as the kid, who by coincidence stumbles into the company of the Glanton Gang. This troupe of historical scalp-hunters and later outlaws are employed by the Mexican government at Chihuahua to exterminate the native tribes waging war against the settlements of the surrounding countryside. Needless to say, it's not positive reading.

Soon to be a film by Todd Field.


  • Affably Evil: Judge Holden is often an eloquent gentleman, who takes off his hat for ladies and whores alike.
    • Toadvine and Tobin are also sympathetic for being scalp-hunters, and sometimes act as father figures to the Kid.
  • Axe Crazy: John Joel Glanton, the leader of the mercenary gang, has killed so much he has gone insane. Many of his men are even more blood-crazed than he is, but not Judge Holden, who is the sanest man in the group.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The Glanton Gang operates on the border of Texas, and they speak Spanish with the natives.
    • The prophecies of the traveling circus band are entirely in untranslated Spanish.
  • Black and Gray Morality: And the gray is very, very dark.
  • BFG: The judge during the Yuma massacre. "When they entered the judge's quarters they found the idiot and a girl of perhaps twelve years cowering naked in the floor. Behind them also naked stood the judge. He was holding leveled at them the bronze barrel of the howitzer."
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The Judge. Maybe.
  • Con Man: The reader's introduction to Judge Holden. He convinces a crowd that their preacher is a child rapist and a wanted criminal in another town. The crowd is soon worked up into a rage until they riot and lynch the preacher. Judge Holden later admits he made it up, and got the preacher attacked simply For the Evulz. The men in the crowd are at first horrified, then laugh and buy Holden a drink.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: Judge Holden is prone to discoursing on various esoteric or philosophical topics around the campfire, speaking with an odd eloquence his illiterate rapist companions obviously lack.
  • Crapsack World: The desolate frontiers of the Old West.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to every other story set in the Old West, even the violent and profanity-laced Deadwood, this one is by far the darkest of them all.
  • Deconstruction: Of The Western genre and most cowboy tropes.
    • McCarthy also dismantles the politically correct myth of Native American victimization, so the genocide victims and their antagonists are pretty much indistinguishable.
      • "Politically correct myth of Native American victimization" is a pretty worrying way to put it.
  • Downer Ending: Oh, God.
  • Evil Albino: Judge Holden.
    • Although, of course, not really albino, he fits the trope given that he's paler than anyone living in the Mexican desert has any right to be, and when he loses his hat he's variously described as burning and peeling skin.
  • Foe Yay: Between the Kid and Judge Holden. It's established fairly early in the book that Holden is a paedophilic rapist, which explains his interest in the Kid and what happens in the ending.
  • Gainax Ending
  • Gorn: Most of the book consists of the Kid's travels through the deserts and prairies, intercut with sickening scenes of violence.
  • Heroic Sociopath: The Kid, who is our protagonist. And by 'heroic', all that's meant is he doesn't positively derive pleasure from being evil.
  • Historical Fiction: John Joel Glanton was indeed a scalp-hunter who led the infamous Glanton Gang, and a lot of Blood Meridian is drawn from the account of one of his gang members. His employer, Charles Riddell ("Mr. Riddle" in the book) was also a real person.
  • Humans Are Bastards
  • Humanoid Abomination: It's difficult to walk away from the novel without suspecting the Judge to be this.
  • Infant Immortality: Horrifically averted, most memorably with the tree of dead babies. In one scene Judge Holden takes a small Indian boy captive after a raid on a village. He keeps the boy with him for the night, then murders and scalps him the next morning, just after he is seen "dandling him on his knee."
    • There's also the chapter where one of the scalphunters grabs two babies by the ankles and swings them against a rock, spilling their brains on the ground.
  • Karma Houdini: Somewhat debatable. In a book which describes the slaughter of so many people in such detail, the Kid's "death" is notably absent. Also, since the book is a ton of symbolism wrapped in three hundred pages, the Judge dancing at the end naked is somewhat suspect. Still, a majority of readers come off thinking the Judge killed the Kid in the outhouse, so the trope holds.
  • Kill'Em All: Welcome to the Old West.
  • Left Hanging: Most readers come out saying the Judge raped and murdered the Kid in the outhouse. See Karma Houdini above.
  • The Man Behind the Man: The never-seen Mr. Riddle is initially this to the Glanton Gang, which he has unleashed upon the natives of the Texas-Mexico borderlands. However, Judge Holden also fits this trope.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast
  • Nietzsche Wannabe: Judge Holden.
  • No Name Given: The Kid.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Yep, Judge Holden again.
  • Pet the Dog: At one stage, a small mexican child is found by the gang. Holden spents the evening innocently entertaining and conversing with it. The child is found scalped the next morning.
  • Private Military Contractors: Glanton is one.
  • Psycho for Hire: The Glanton Gang is on the payroll of the Texan state, until they go rabid in the wilderness and begin to rape and slaughter Mexican civilians and Indians alike.
    • The Delaware Indians are this to the rest of the Glanton Gang.
  • Reference Overdosed: The Bible, Melville, and Milton are just the three you're most likely to catch. Watch this for some more insight.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Scenery Gorn: The descriptions of the village massacres' aftermath, with mounds of burned limbs and carbonized skulls.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Hey, it's a novel by Cormac McCarthy. What did you expect, Tastes Like Diabetes?
  • Signature Style: McCarthy doesn't believe in punctuation and has actively declared war on it.
  • Ubermensch
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: If you get the many references, it's Rule of Symbolism instead of What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: One reviewer of the book mentioned how, on almost every page, McCarthy has made a reference to something, including Antinomial Christianity, Gnosticism, and Spaghetti Westerns.
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