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Cormac McCarthy’s Many Mexicos (4/8/11)

30 Sep

Alarcon brings to mind several issues with McCarthy’s representation of Mexico in “All the Pretty Mexicos,” but the one I’m most interested in is why do these boys decide to go to Mexico? “Why do the boys go south instead of west? Nostalgia. They can’t go west because the industrialization that followed on the heels of westward expansion during the nineteenth century has placed too many obstacles in their path and erased the storybook Wild West,” (Alarcon, 149). Yet, this instance brings about certain questions related to what I’ll call “storybook Mexico” and forces us to confront the mental wall between what we know about Mexico from American history books and what the country of Mexico really entails. Alarcon points out some of the things that I was also beginning to question as I read All the Pretty Horses. McCarthy’s mysticism does many great things for our vision of the West and Western characterization, but it doesn’t, unfortunately, have the ability to cover up his general assumptions about Mexico and their culture.

            When approaching the West, it is first important to recognize its several misconceptions: gunslingers, lawless frontiers, the operation of some applied good and evil, etc. Although I feel like I want to read much more from McCarthy before judging him too greatly as I’ve only read All the Pretty Horses and The Road. Comparing the two, I’d say McCarthy does a better job operating in an apocalyptic world versus one he has to derive from myth and stereotypes

            On page 221 specifically, but in other places throughout the novel as well, it seems like Mexicans are consistently catering to Cole’s needs. There are instances where they’re at his will, even though there are those instances of being in the prison, as well. “Two trucks carrying fieldhands were coming along behind the sheep and he walked out to the road and asked the driver for a ride. The driver nodded him aboard and he dropped back along the bed of the moving truck,” (McCarthy, 221).  The text says he gets all the way to La Vega, and none of the Mexican characters are given one piece of dialogue or action during that sequence. Not to mention, the thought of 16-yr-old white kid trying to huff it around on horseback and speaks decent Spanish to many people throughout the novel. The characters in which McCarthy focuses on are still pretty stereotypical, as Alarcon said, but I think when reading McCarthy, a suspension of disbelief is called for. As much as he supposedly rejects myth, he infuses his writing in both writing back against those misconceptions and advancing others.

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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Scholarly Essays/Responses

 

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