Goodbye to a River

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  • 17 Jun 2015 at 8:11 pm #7264

    efscerbo
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    I posted a ways back on the motif of fathers and sons in McCarthy: http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/topic/fathers-and-sonsharnessmaker-parable/. My take on that motif is the following: In McCarthy, fathers frequently play the role of the enemy, but they are a necessary enemy: Fathers hinder the growth, the development of their sons. Sons can only really come into their own by leaving their fathers behind, in various senses. But far worse are those who, like the traveler’s son in the judge’s parable of the harnessmaker, never know their fathers.

    Anyway, I came across the following passage in that quintessential Texan novel, Goodbye to a River, and I was struck by its resonance with the epilogue to the judge’s parable, as well as with my interpretation of that motif in McCarthy:

    “If a man couldn’t escape what he came from, we would most of us still be peasants in Old World hovels. But if, having escaped or not, he wants in some way to know himself, define himself, and tries to do it without taking into account the thing he came from, he is writing without any ink in his pen. The provincial who cultivates only his roots is in peril, potato-like, of becoming more root than plant. The man who cuts his roots away and denies that they were ever connected with him withers into half a man….”

    Just thought I’d share,
    Ed


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