Grace and apocalypse in the novels of Cormac McCarthy (Appalachia)
Sullivan, Martha Nell
Doody, Terrence A.
Master of Arts
McCarthy's novels articulate a vision of man's state of grace as a trajectory. Outer Dark, representative of McCarthy's early career, reveals a world filled with overwhelming evil, a vision of terra damnata mitigated only by the grace suggested in the narrative tenderness toward the heroine, Rinthy. Suttree affirms grace as the titular hero "pulls himself together" to overcome "dementia praecox," a form of madness combining the primitive implications of schizophrenia (represented by Suttree's dead twin) and the Manichean split between good and evil that paradoxically issues in Knoxville's "good-naturedly violent" demimonde. Blood Meridian, McCarthy's apocalyptic Western, reverses the vision of Suttree. The novel's ambiguous silences--moments of ineffability--either condemn "the kid" for his senseless brutalities or confirm the meaningless of life which the desecrating bloodshed suggests. Both possibilities leave mankind poised uncomfortably at his blood meridian, McCarthy's version of an apocalyptic foreclosure on the possibility of grace.