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All the Pretty Horses by Carmac McCarthy

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The book: All Pretty Horses by Carmac McCarthy presents the story of a 16-year-old cowboy, John Grady Cole, who spent his life growing up on his grandfather’s ranch in San Angelo, Texas. The book was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1992. The author, Carmac McCarthy portrays a high level of historical richness in this novel specifically on the events involving American tradition. This novel highlights the life of a young man’s and his life journey to unknown places. The main character, John Grady Cole, challenges the evil that develops due to his own pride and ignorance and the evil of an inescapable part of the universe. McCarthy utilizes a style often simple and restrained, embedded with lyrical passages that showcase the main characters memories and dreams.

Thesis Statement: In All Pretty Horses, Carmac McCarthy develops and shows the American conception of the west livelihood in the years of 1949 and 1950. Throughout the interesting passages Carmac McCarthy describes how innocence cannot safeguard an individual from evil; people have to understand how the world and its activities operate before they can start hoping to control their own destinies or fates.

The book tries to explain how the indication of westernization turned the American philosophy into an optimistic nation. The idea is authenticated by history through exemplifying the possibility of a poor man becoming rich. The book All Pretty Horses presents the understanding of romanticism (McCarthy, 250). This is in contrast to the austerity of the author’s previous book writings. The book defines the American culture as it is popularly documented and offers the imagination of the author’s writings that describe the cowboys and Indians as an industrial institution of the American past. Before a boy grows to become a man they have to go through a number of obstacles and tests and overcome them in order to fully mature in the society or world we live in now.


            McCarthy’s book gives rational information regarding the idea of the American West and how important it is to the tradition of the American literature and mythology. The history of America is described in the book content giving details about the great moments in the history of the West corresponding to the great moments in American history. Cormac McCarthy’s novel offers material recounting the stylistic culture or code honor in the American lifestyle. It is the story of maturity and survival in a society filled with violence and oppression.

This book provides a critical study of McCarthy’s novel, All the Pretty Horses. It includes commentary information that argues on issues regarding the thematic shift away from iconoclastic characters and atavistic violence. It focuses on the novel’s structure, style and characterization that establish major thematic arguments regarding the perspective of the readers towards the traditional popular western genre. The book critiques and revises the theoretical developments of the western culture represented in the fiction book. The book questions the novel’s thematic visions of violence and its relation to the subject of determinism and free will.The content of this particular book reviews the appreciative elements acknowledged by the novel readers. It explains the opening of the book and its historical significance to the readers of the book. The content of this source brings together the history of the American west through an interesting fictional story that describes the heroic and masculine character of the main character in the book. The book symbolizes an intense and natural observation of the American history via showcasing a both realistic and melancholic story of the generation of Americans that exploit the culture of the great heroes of the West, the cowboys.

Brief review of the book

            The book is set in the spring of 1948 on a small Texas ranch. The scene entails a sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole who is attending his grandfather’s funeral. He has lived with the grandfather since his parents’ separation. The grandfather’s ranch is now in the possession of John Grady’s mother, who simply has the sole interest of selling it. On the other hand, John Grady’s father is mentally unstable due to the effects brought about by World War II. John Grady begs his old buddy Rawlins to escort him to Mexico since he figured he had no future in Texas. Later, John Grady discovers how his ignorance or innocence, will almost lead him to obliteration.

Before arriving at the Mexican border they, John Grady and Rawlins, meet Jimmy Blevins, a daring young boy on an outstanding horse. Rawlins and Cole allow Blevins him to join them despite their doubts and surety that his horse was a stolen one. They all ride into Mexico and realize how the environment is different from where they had earlier resided. Jimmy Blevins clothes and horse get stolen, and they opt to search for it in a nearby Mexican town during a thunderstorm, where they finally find the horse and clothes. Thinking the horse is justly his, Blevins takes it back. The trio is rushed out of the town by locals with guns. Subsequently, Blevins tells Rawlins and John Grady to split off, since it him that the authority is after him (McCarthy).

Rawlins and John Grady finally find work at a ranch breaking horses. They settle for a while, and John Grady falls in love with Alejandra, the rancher’s daughter. But the guards are informed to arrest John Grady and Rawlins after the authority is informed of this issue. The rancher briefly considers eliminating John Grady but hands him over to the authorities who ship them off to prison. In prison, they meet Blevins who had killed a man in the past time while attempting to recover his gun from the town. Blevins is then executed while John Grady and Rawlins are shipped off to a new prison. Here, the two individuals endure daily prisoner brawls.

Later on John Grady hardly escapes a fatal stabbing in prison before he is bailed out of prison by Alejandra’s aunt on the condition that he ends the relationship he has with Alejandra. John Grady makes a final visit to the ranch and heads off to reclaim Rawlins’s, Blevins’s and his horse. In the event, he holds the captain hostage age then lets him free before crossing the border back into Texas. While back in Texas, he tries to find the genuine and actual owner of Blevins’s horse with no success. The reading ends with John Grady riding purposelessly through Texas.

McCarthy utilizes several themes comprising failure, success, fatality, and fear in the novel. In the book, All the Pretty Horses, the themes presented the assist in creating a personal relation for the reader to better understand the author’s purpose and main point of writing the book. The theme of fear gives the reader the impulsive emotion that expresses the fear that the characters in the book experience. The entire story shows the impact of fear on the lives of the characters, for instance, as perceived from the book content each of the individual characters’ lived in fear of dying which compelled them to do risky things like stealing and getting into occasional fights.

John Grady Cole is the protagonist of the story, and his fear of failing in life was an important propelling factor for him wanting to become a cowboy. Blevins, on the other hand, has a fear of lightening which brings him closer to his friends. This majorly highlights the theme of friendship in the book. The main determination presented by the author in the book is the subject self-maturity. This is highlighted in various themes of the book. One of the main themes is the subject of Coming of Age. Cormac McCarthy characterizes the life of youthful individuals who campaigned against their kinfolk and subsequently found love in the future. For instance, John Grady falling in love with Alejandra symbolizes his “rite of passage” as he grows up.

The other major theme presented is Competing Moral Codes. The theme of competing morals is a key literal work presented by Cormac McCarthy where he shows us the personality of John Grady in circumstances where he encounters individuals who are corrupt and immoral. An instance includes the scene where the two young men, John, and Rawlins are terribly beaten to the extent Rawlins gets extremely injured. Therefore, John Grady kills the prisoner who tries to assault him and comprehends that the evil he committed lives inside him as well. Additionally, the final meeting John has with Alejandra exemplifies the theme of moral code. She chooses to stick with the family.

The theme of love is portrayed in the scenario when John first saw Alejandra riding on a black Arabian horse and instantaneously fell in love with her. Another theme represented in the story is the subject of Family Relations. Cormac McCarthy revealed the importance of family relations by exemplifying John Grady’s family. His growth and development in character is highly affected by his past family relations, that is, John’s mother left him when he was a baby. The other accomplished theme in the book is Nature. The author gives distinctive attention to nature in the novel by noting the beauty and giving descriptive demonstrations that show the books characters’ attitude towards the horses, the earth, the wonderful landscapes, rivers, and lakes.

The author’s area of expertise basically depicts a high level of English novel-writing in fiction specifically the Western fiction, which is a genre of fiction set in the American Old West frontline and classically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. The arguments presented in the book are logical since they take the reader through a series of events that instigate reasonable thought for the main character introduced in the plot of the story. I believe the author interpreted all the evidences presented in the reading in a clear and understandable way for the readers.

The author shows the contrast, evocation, comedy and style in the reading which depicts and a clear and significant use of the methods to describe the story in the novel. The book gives me the dynamic and round feeling as a reader since it offers the understanding I can relate to in the modern day Western culture. The characters created in the novel successfully hold the readers interest by enabling me to capture the feel of each moment, for instance, certain scenes within the book cause a nostalgic feeling.


            The value of this book offers great knowledge regarding the American past culture in great depth. Additionally, there is the occasional moment of humor which lightens up the dark tale the story presents. This novel is worth reading since it educates the reader on the past adventure demonstrated on scenes of the book. There is an essential issue of violence as well highlighted in the books content. The past violence and prejudice depicted from the book shows hoe the American conception of the West is a romantic model instinctive of an intensely unromantic realism.

I would definitely recommend the book to another individual for reading because it grants the self-appointed role of modern day culture and scholarship to excel past the common idea of America’s westward settlement expansion. The American vision is mostly colored and shaped by many Western movies and their portrayals of death without blood. Furthermore, the stylistic scheme of polysyndetic coordination used to achieve the variety of effects in the book writings overwhelms the reader with an increased rhythm of prose in terms of a fast paced reading. Moral upbringing plays a vital role in the growth of any human being and this forms an essential part of the reading as it takes one through the numerous aspects whether morality is acquired, innate or God-given, and whether morality should be subjective.


McCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.

SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on All the Pretty Horses.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 13 Feb. 2015.

Cliffnotes Editors. “About all the Pretty Horses.” http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/a/all-the-pretty-horses/about-all-the-pretty-horses. Web. 13 Feb. 2015

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