The End of Blood Meridian

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  • 10 Jun 2014 at 7:25 pm #5482

    jasonp
    Member

    Although McCarthy doesn’t specifically tell us what happened to the kid (now the man) at the end of Blood Meridian, we can assume he was murdered by the judge. But I guess if I really wanted to, I could assume the kid was maybe only raped–the judge was naked, he was a renowned rapist–and the kid was left there with blood all over him. Or maybe the judge raped, tortured, and killed the kid. I can’t imagine there being a scene so gruesome that McCarthy wouldn’t add it to Blood Meridian, so I’m going to assume he wants you to interpret for yourself what happened to the kid.

    I’d like there to be a speck of hope that the kid made it out alive. Knowing the judge’s past violence, I’d say the kid is as good as dead. But would there be a reason in the judge’s complex noggin to not kill the kid? If there is, I don’t know. And why McCarthy would make that scene questionable suggests to me that the kid could have survived the encounter with the giant baby-man.

    Then there’s the Epilogue, which I don’t understand at all.


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    10 Jun 2014 at 10:06 pm #5483

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    “Then there’s the Epilogue, which I don’t understand at all.”

    Get in line.

    Harold Bloom has an interesting take on the epilogue, relating it to Milton, in an interview with Peter Josyph in Adventures in Reading Cormac McCarthy. Check it out.


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    11 Jun 2014 at 6:22 am #5484

    jasonp
    Member

    Good to know I’m not the only one.

    Thanks for the heads up on the Bloom interview. I’ll check it out.


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    29 May 2015 at 4:37 pm #7161

    Toni
    Member

    hi,

    here’s an interesting piece on the epilogue from “Your Side of the Street”:
    Cormac McCarthy’s Collaborative Authorship By Daniel Robert King:

    “The most significant section of Blood Meridian added late in the process is the enigmatic epilogue featuring the figure moving across the plains using a mysterious “implement with two handles” to strike fire in holes he is making across the plains. McCarthy attached an early draft of this section to a letter he sent to Erskine in February 1983, describing it as “a notion I’d been toying with on and off for a year or SO. McCarthy goes on to write that he was “not unhappy with the way the book ends as it now stands” but that he “thought [he] would submit this to [Erskine] for [his] inspection and possibly […] opinion.?” McCarthy tells Erskine that ifhe did not like the new addition to “please say so,” or if Erskine had “no opinion one way or the other say that” and if the editor thought that “it wont hurt anything say that.” The draft of the epilogue that McCarthy sent to Erskine in 1983 was slightly different from that which appears in the published edition of Blood Meridian. A few additional details of the “tool” the man is using to make his holes are included in this early description, such as that it has “two blades” in addition to its two handles, bringing McCarthy’s description of this tool closer to a post-hole digger,” Otherwise, the epilogue McCarthy sent to Erskine is very similar to that published in Blood Meridian. That McCarthy was able to put in place such a striking additional section of the novel so late in the drafting process is testament to Erskine’s understanding and faith in his author. It is also significant that McCarthy seemed not only interested in seeking Erskine’s opinion on the piece, but also in getting his editor’s permission to include the epilogue. This note reveals the regard in which McCarthy still held his editor, despite his rising profile and experience as a writer.”


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    • This reply was modified 1 year, 10 months ago by  Toni.
    30 May 2015 at 8:07 pm #7166

    Glass
    Member

    Toni, that is very interesting. Thank you for that. I like McCarthy’s “second endings” such as the BM Epilogue and then again in The Road, each highly ambiguous and thus obviously open to myriad interpretations. I read both as positive and life affirming. The Epilogue has always given me the sense of something being set free, a release or a liberation of man (or his “soul”) with suggestiveness of Plato’s Cave.


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    31 May 2015 at 12:10 am #7167

    Peter Josyph
    Member

    There is no reason to assume that McCarthy knows what the judge does to the kid in the jakes. That scene could easily have been written without McCarthy’s knowledge of exactly what happens.

    I think ages ago, maybe in BLOOD MUSIC (can’t recall!), I suggested that the judge eats the kid. That still makes perfect sense to me in every way that an action makes sense to a story.


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    31 May 2015 at 10:10 am #7169

    Richard L.
    Member

    RE: “The most significant section of Blood Meridian added late in the process is the enigmatic epilogue featuring the figure moving across the plains using a mysterious “implement with two handles” to strike fire in holes he is making across the plains. McCarthy attached an early draft of this section to a letter he sent to Erskine in February 1983, describing it as “a notion I’d been toying with on and off for a year or SO. McCarthy goes on to write that he was “not unhappy with the way the book ends as it now stands” but that he “thought [he] would submit this to [Erskine] for [his] inspection and possibly […] opinion.?” McCarthy tells Erskine that ifhe did not like the new addition to “please say so,” or if Erskine had “no opinion one way or the other say that” and if the editor thought that “it wont hurt anything say that.” The draft of the epilogue that McCarthy sent to Erskine in 1983 was slightly different from that which appears in the published edition of Blood Meridian. A few additional details of the “tool” the man is using to make his holes are included in this early description, such as that it has “two blades” in addition to its two handles, bringing McCarthy’s description of this tool closer to a post-hole digger,” Otherwise, the epilogue McCarthy sent to Erskine is very similar to that published in Blood Meridian. That McCarthy was able to put in place such a striking additional section of the novel so late in the drafting process is testament to Erskine’s understanding and faith in his author. It is also significant that McCarthy seemed not only interested in seeking Erskine’s opinion on the piece, but also in getting his editor’s permission to include the epilogue. This note reveals the regard in which McCarthy still held his editor, despite his rising profile and experience as a writer.”

    Hey, I love knowing that. Now I know and I know and I know and I know and I know and I don’t know. And I love not knowing.

    There are countless interpretations, and I would be dismayed if McCarthy came out and said exactly what he meant ending it the way he did, even should he say I was correct about the divine sparks and the light in exile.

    I’m reading poet Jane Hirshfield’s new book, TEN WINDOWS: HOW GREAT POEMS TRANSFORM THE WORLD, and she talks about Thoueau’s hound and quotes William Epson and several poets about the value of the hidden in Art. “Riddle-mind, whether spiritual, psychological, or secular, awakens a long-strided intelligence, breaking thought loose from the habitual and the stolid.”

    In the first part of BLOOD MERIDIAN, we are swept up in the novel. We are both volunteers and conscripts in wanting to see what will happen and in wanting to understand what has happened. As the trail winds down it gets curiouser and curiouser. The ending is not the one we had in mind. And then the rereads begin, and the hunt begins anew for an understanding, a better interpretation, or even enlightenment

    This is literature and the recalcitrance is a built-in-reservoir feature that we would not have otherwise. How sad it would be if it turned static or we discovered that there was only one true interpretation that drove McCarthy to write it. Right now it is timeless, a bottomless well the reader can go back to again and again.

    We want to know but we don’t really want to know. Our heart’s desire is always to be told some mystery.


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    31 May 2015 at 10:35 am #7170

    Richard L.
    Member

    RE: the “implement with two handles”

    I suspect that this might have been a refer-back to the saw the men used in the prologue/epilogue to McCarthy’s first-published novel. The two-handled saw might have given off sparks also, at least when it ran into the wire fence which they found embedded in the metaphorical tree of knowledge.

    Or maybe not.


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    31 May 2015 at 1:47 pm #7172

    Toni
    Member

    Amen, Richard! Amen!


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    31 May 2015 at 2:43 pm #7173

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Richard L.: Not exactly a “wire fence,” but I get your drift. McCarthy refers to the fence as “twisted wrought-iron, the mangled fragment of the fence” (p. 3), “ruins of the spiked iron fence” (p. 245) and “the gap in the fence, past the torn iron palings” (p. 246).


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