Charnel Ground & Sky Burial

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  • 30 Jul 2015 at 7:13 pm #7393


    I’m wondering if McCarthy had the ancient funeral practice of sky burial in mind for the scene in Outer Dark in which Rinthy discovers the burnt remains of her son in the glade and where the tinker hangs dead in a tree. Interestingly, the tinker is described as “a wonder to the birds,” intriguingly suggestive of sky burial. For example, Wiki says sky burial “is a funeral practice in which a human corpse is placed on a mountaintop to decompose while exposing to the elements or to be eaten by scavenging animals, specifically birds of prey.”

    It seems to fit quite nicely. Additionally, McCarthy uses the word “charnel” in this scene — “She went among this charnel curiously.” (237) Charnel is closely tied to sky burial.

    There’s a lot more information here for anyone who is interested:

    PS: Thinking a little bit about of the frequency with which McCarthy uses or references cemeteries and burial grounds in his books, I can’t help but wonder if there is some analog between Outer Dark/charnel ground/sky burial and the Epilogue of Blood Meridian.

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