The Dauphin's Soul

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  • 17 Jun 2015 at 3:37 pm #7262


    Just something a little I noticed. The Judge towards the end misquotes (probably purposefully) Shakespeare: And some are not yet born who shall have cause to curse the Dauphin’s soul. Plenty of time for the dance.

    Earlier the judge is said to have a ‘pleated brow not unlike a dolphin’s.’

    And Dauphin is French for dolphin so I wonder if he’s not referencing himself here in a rather roundabout way.

    17 Jun 2015 at 8:32 pm #7265



    I’ve definitely noticed that before, but I’m not entirely sure what to make of it. Personally, I struggle to read the judge as Dauphin, for various reasons: First, with the reference to Henry V, that most martial of Shakespeare’s plays, I think it makes more sense to identify the judge with Hal, who speaks the original line. Even though Henry V is supposed to be an extremely uplifting, patriotic play, I can easily imagine McCarthy viewing Hal through a modern lens as a warmonger. Second, as I’ve written about elsewhere, I read the final chapter of the novel as the kid/man finally turning fully evil. Furthermore, I believe that much of what the judge says in that final scene makes a lot more sense read from that point of view, namely, that he is telling the kid what he (the kid) will turn into, but the kid doesn’t understand and so there’s no way to stop it. (“In fact, were he to know he might well absent himself…”) And so I tend to read “Dauphin” as the kid, and the whole line as one more way of the judge telling him, in essence, “You are about to embark on a life of such evil as will resonate into generations to come.”

    However, this is all speculative and largely contingent on my reading of the ending. And it’s entirely possible that there’s another interpretation of “Dauphin” that eludes me. But I just thought I’d toss in my two cents.


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