The End of BM: A Reading

This topic contains 70 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  dexel 1 year, 1 month ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 71 total)
  • Author
    Posts Mark Topic Read  | 
  • 09 Jul 2014 at 8:28 pm #5602


    Hi all,

    I recently finished rereading BM, and I’d like to offer my thoughts/opinions on what’s going on at the end (before the epilogue). I should add: While I believe I’m really onto something here, I have no personal attachment to my reading. If someone can find a hole in it or suggest something that is better, please, I’m all ears. I should also add a disclaimer that my main idea here is in no way original. I’ve seen it floating around the internet for a while now. But what is original (at least, as far as I know) is many (but surely not all) of the supporting details.

    All page references are to the Vintage 25th anniversary edition.

    My reading is that the end depicts the kid/man totally surrendering to the judge and becoming fully evil. I believe he resisted the judge for a while but eventually gives in completely. I do not believe that he is killed in the jakes; rather I believe he is the one raping and murdering the little girl who goes missing. I also believe that the judge is indeed supernatural and that he has contrived to bring about the corruption of the kid.

    First, why the judge is supernatural:

    There are a whole bunch of instances throughout the novel that coyly, playfully hint at the supernatural status of the judge. But by and large one can explain them away if he really wants to. (For instance, maybe his prediction in Chapter 12 of David Brown’s later hanging is a lucky guess or he just running his mouth (168, 323-324).) However: During his and the man’s last conversation, he asks

    “Where is yesterday? Where is Glanton and Brown and where is the priest? He leaned closer. Where is Shelby, whom you left to the mercies of Elias in the desert, and where is Tate whom you abandoned in the mountains?” (344)

    That gives it away. How does he know that the kid left Shelby alive? Reread the beginning of Chapter 15: The gang ride out before the kid and Tate even decide between them who is to kill Shelby and who the wounded Mexican. The judge certainly couldn’t know whether the kid killed Shelby or not. He couldn’t even know whether the kid was charged with Shelby or the Mexican.

    Furthermore: How does the judge know the kid abandoned Tate in the mountains? He knew the kid and Tate were left behind and that Tate never returned to the gang. But he didn’t know that the kid and Tate even went into the mountains. And even if one speculates that Glanton or the judge asked the kid “offscreen” what happened, I can’t imagine him going into all the details. He could just say “Tate deserted.” or some such. It would require far too much supposition for me to imagine an entire scene which we are not shown wherein the kid details to Glanton or the judge the events of Chapter 15.

    (Also, note how when he segues between things he should know (Glanton, Brown, Tobin) and things he shouldn’t, he “leaned closer”. To me, that signals that he’s about to reveal something. It makes him even more sinister here.)

    So that’s it: As far as I’m concerned, the judge is demonstrably supernatural. He is not human. So then what *is* he? I think that the judge is the incarnation of evil/war. (As unoriginal as that sounds, I do believe it to be so.) I further believe McCarthy intends him to have ontology independent of man. He is not a manifestation of some “dark” aspect of man. He is that which corrupts man. As Peter says in Whales and Men,

    “I still had not properly grappled with the problem of what evil was. It appeared to be something primal and monolithic and yet it now seemed it was our own invention. A paradox. We know what happens to the works of man. That we could have come up with something as enduring as evil seemed a bit grand for us.”

    Peter goes on to say “Perhaps we were simply that which rendered the expression of evil possible. We were what evil had been waiting for.” Which surely recalls the judge’s “War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.” (259) (This association I crib from Giemza’s “Toward a Catholic Understanding of Cormac McCarthy’s Oeuvre” in the You Would Not Believe What Watches collection.)

    Peter also says “the one thing that characterized all evil everywhere was the refusal to acknowledge it. The eagerness to call it something else.” Which recalls Toadvine, Tobin, and the kid watching the judge and the idiot approach the wells in Chapter 20: “[E]ven though there was no longer any question as to what it was that approached yet none would name it.” (294)

    And we also have in Whales and Men: “Was evil the grand gestalt that could not be divided back into its origins?” Which clearly recalls the kid’s dream: “Whatever [the judge’s] antecedents he was something wholly other than their sum, nor was there system by which to divide him back into his origins for he would not go.” (322)

    Given that the judge is supernatural and given these lines, I’m inclined to see him as the embodiment of evil/war. I do not think he is the manifestation of a dark aspect of man. I think he exists independent of man. And his goal is to corrupt man. (Why this is so I know not. Although the idea of not being able to divide the judge into his origins certainly recalls the doctrine of divine simplicity to me. I imagine this may well support those who read BM through an explicitly Gnostic lens.)

    Now, getting back to the ending: First, in Chapter 23, the man is on his way to Fort Griffin from the beginning. The buffalo hunter he meets mentions having “pulled out from Griffin for a last hunt” two years ago (330). Does this plant a seed in the man’s head? Is it simply there to prime the reader for the eventual trip to Fort Griffin? I’m unsure. But then the man meets Elrod and the other bonepickers, and one of the boys asks him “Are you headed twards Griffin?”, to which he responds “I am” (332). They talk about how Griffin is “full of whores”, and one says that “It’s set up to be the biggest town for sin in all Texas”, to which another responds “It’s as lively a place for murders as you’d care to visit.”

    The point is that a) Fort Griffin is a horrible, evil place, a ninth circle of sorts, and b) the man is headed there *before* he has any trouble with Elrod. I had long believed that his killing Elrod is what triggers the judge to come back into his life or what sends him to the judge. That is just not true. He’s headed towards the “biggest town for sin in all Texas” before any of that goes down. And then when he gets there, just before he enters The Beehive, he “looked back a last time at the street and at the random windowlights let into the darkness and at the last pale light in the west and the low dark hills around. Then he pushed open the door and entered.” (337) He looked back a last time? The last pale light in the west? His running into the judge isn’t accidental; he knows who’s in there.

    Next, I think that much of the ending can be understood by considering the idiot: I discussed at (see the seventh post) how fire is used in BM and elsewhere in McCarthy’s corpus as a symbol of something divine/good inherent in people, perhaps God, Jesus “as that gold at the bottom of the mine” as Black mentions in The Sunset Limited. And I discussed at (see the ninth post) how the idiot is constantly fixated on fire and on his reflection, both symbols of goodness/self-awareness. And he is prevented from reaching either by the judge.

    When the man enters the jakes at the very end of the novel, the judge “gathered him in his arms” (347), which recalls how the judge “saves” the idiot, i.e., prevents him from searching for his reflection: In doing so, “he gathered the naked and sobbing fool into his arms” (270). And in the very next paragraph, the scene cuts back to inside the bar, where “[a]ll the candles had gone out save one and it guttered uneasily in its grease like a votive lamp.” This sounds to me like the man’s fire, his “divine spark”, so to speak, being snuffed out.

    Then there’s reflections: When the kid and Tobin leave the judge in Chapter 20 and get to Carrizo Creek, they are ambushed by the judge: “When the kid raised his dripping head from the water a rifleball dished his reflection from the pool and the *echoes* of the shot clattered about the bonestrewn slopes and clanged away in the desert and died.” [emphasis mine] (300) As when the idiot goes looking for his reflection in the Colorado River (see the second thread linked to above), we have a connection between a reflection and an echo, recalling both the myth of Narcissus and Echo as well as the very first chapter of Moby-Dick. It is important that the judge doesn’t shoot the kid (surely he could have if he wanted to) but shoots the kid’s *reflection*. And then when the man gets to The Beehive at the end, he gets a drink and notices a “mirror along the backbar but it held only smoke and phantoms.” (338-339) (And reflections/doubles are important and recur throughout McCarthy, from the “othersuttree” in Suttree to “[t]he candleflame and the image of the candleflame” that opens ATPH to Lester seeing the boy in the bus at the end of CoG, inter alia.)

    (Also, note how when the judge pulls the idiot out of the river, he “carried it up into the camp and restored it among its fellows” (270), intimating that the same thing is being done to the rest of the gang, in particular to the kid.)

    So: I interpret the judge’s hug as a welcoming, the antichrist analogue of the prodigal son returning. Perhaps simply the judge engulfing the man. Just as the judge was able to prevent the idiot from searching for his reflection, just as the idiot is always kept an “exile from men’s fires” (322), with his “dull eyes falsely brightened by the fire” (263), his “dead black eyes” (269) constantly searching for that thing of men which fire does contains within it “inasmuch as they are less without it and are divided from their origins and are exiles” (255), the man is likewise kept in the darkness. The judge shoots his reflection and at the last he has no reflection. And when the “last of the true” (340) goes into the jakes that last candle is going out. Consider what the judge says to the kid/man in Chapter 22: “It’s not for the world’s ears but for yours only… Dont you know that I’d have loved you like a son?… I spoke in the desert for you and you only and you turned a deaf ear to me” (319), and in Chapter 23: “I recognized you when I first saw you and yet you were a disappointment to me. Then and now. Even so at the last I find you here with me.” (341) Obviously there’s a question of whether to trust what the judge says. And I’m usually extremely distrustful of him. But here I half-believe him. I don’t know that he would have loved the kid like a son, but I definitely believe that the judge has some desire to have the kid turn totally depraved.

    A natural question that arises is Why does McCarthy choose to not show us inside the “jakes and what was encountered there” (329)? Surely this cannot be without meaning. My explanation comes from considering the structure of the novel as a whole. (This is a lot easier to see if you have a copy of BM on Kindle. Search the word “kid” and see what comes up. If you search on a Kindle for Android app, the search results are separated by chapter, and that makes what I’m about to say even easier to follow.) Look at how the kid disappears from the narrative in the middle. Specifically, he disappears when he is conjoined with the rest of the gang. He’s clearly the focal point of the narrative for the first six chapters. Starting in Chapter 7, we pretty much stop following him:

    In Chapter 7, he’s mentioned only twice in passing (90, 104) and is only “in focus” when it’s his turn to pick the Tarot card (98-99).

    In Chapter 8, the kid is mentioned several times at the cantina in Janos (106-108) and again when the judge asks Toadvine about the veteran/Grannyrat/Chambers (110). But he does not speak in this chapter, nor does he do anything of importance.

    In Chapter 9, the kid is mentioned in passing twice in the beginning, once before the Apache ambush (114) and once during (115), but again he neither speaks nor does anything of note.

    Chapter 10 sees him return a bit to the fore, as his conversation with Tobin prompts the story of “[h]ow came the learned man” (128).

    He’s never once mentioned in Chapter 11.

    In Chapter 12, he is mentioned once during the slaughter of the Gilenos, when it seems that he is about to help McGill, but he is shouted down by Glanton who subsequently kills McGill (163-164). The kid is focal once again when he helps remove the arrow from David Brown’s leg (168-169).

    In Chapter 13, he is mentioned in passing a few times, once at the banquet in Chihuahua City (176), once (notably) just before the massacre of the Tiguas (181), and twice at the cantina in Nacori (185, 187).

    In Chapter 14 he is mentioned in passing exactly once, shortly after the battle at Santa Maria (204).

    He is back to being the main character in Chapter 15, when he is separated from the gang. (I see this as very important.)

    He is completely absent from Chapter 16, and he is mentioned in passing exactly once in Chapter 17 (254), once in Chapter 18 (268), and once in Chapter 19 (274).

    Then, starting in Chapter 20, he’s back to being the main character for the rest of the book.

    To recap: During Chapters 7-19, the main character of the novel only acts as such 1) when he’s selecting his Tarot card, 2) when he’s helping David Brown, and 3) when he’s separated from the gang in Chapter 15. And I suspect this is important: Consider what the narrator says of the gang in Chapter 12: “[A]lthough each man among them was discrete unto himself, conjoined they made a thing that had not been before and in that communal soul were wastes hardly reckonable more than those whited regions on old maps where monsters do live and where there is nothing other of the known world save conjectural winds.” (158) Their individual identities are subsumed by the gang. For me, this is why we’re not shown what happens at the end of the novel: When the kid is with the gang, we don’t see what he’s doing. At the end, he has rejoined the gang (i.e., the judge), which is why we lose sight of him.

    Alternatively, it may be that we lose sight of him because to show what happens would be to give away the game. Given how coy McCarthy is regarding the judge being supernatural, given how subtle he is with showing how much control the judge has over various events of the novel (more on this in a moment), it surely seems important that the judge operate under cloak of night. Perhaps the judge is most powerful when people do not realize he is acting? Perhaps one of McCarthy’s goals is to depict precisely this? If at the end we were to see exactly what happens in the jakes, we would know that the judge had dominated him. Granted, this hypothesis is fully unfalsifiable (Karl Popper would have a field day here), but it’s still possible/interesting.

    So if you’re willing to buy that the judge is supernatural, that he has (for some reason) an investment in bringing about the utter degeneration of the kid/man, what exactly is happening at the end? I aver that the man’s “initiation” fully into the dark side is the rape and murder of the little girl who goes missing: First, just the fact that the little girl has gone missing is troubling, given that several children go missing/wind up killed in the wake of the gang.

    Before I go on, an aside: I am definitely of the mind that the judge is in control of just about every event in the novel. Who hits the kid with the “huge shillelagh” (10)? Who knows? But it needed to happen to prevent one of the kid, Toadvine from killing the other. Why do the Mexican soldiers arrest the kid in Chapter 5 (72)? I imagine it is ostensibly because he’s a filibuster, but Captain White’s men didn’t even have uniforms: “Among their clothes there was small agreement and among their hats less.” (46) So how do they even know who he is? And he’s been wandering all over Mexico with Sproule and is presumably quite far from wherever the handful of survivors of the Comanche slaughter ended up. Why do the soldiers arrest him in San Diego, without “even ask[ing] him his name” (317)? How in God’s name does the kid end up in the exact same prison cell with Toadvine (77), a total stranger whom he fought some months before in a city over 700 miles away? (Yes, that is the distance between Nacogdoches and Chihuahua City.) Note how the judge runs the Tarot scene (95-101). How he controls the “lottery” (213, 214). How he performs his “coin trick” (252, 256-257), during which he says “The arc of circling bodies is determined by the length of their tether… Moons, coins, men.” I do indeed see the hand of the judge in all things. The one thing he is not in control of is man’s free will: As John Western writes at the end of Whales and Men, “Choice is everywhere and destiny is only a word we give to history. To that which is accomplished and done with.” But he can try to get man to never realize his free will. To the extent he is able to do so, he even controls men.

    Back on track: Then we have the dwarf whore: Note how she picks *him* out. Perhaps the judge sends the dwarf whore to the man to trigger this idea of sex with a child? Then it seems that the man cannot get it up: “You need to get down there and get you a drink, she said. You’ll be all right.” (346) It’s almost too repulsive to think of, but is it that he wants the “real thing”?

    Also, notice how McCarthy describes how, leaving the whore’s room, the man “stood and pulled his trousers up and buttoned them and buckled his belt.” (346) And then, just before the bystander opens the door of the jakes, “[t]he man who was relieving himself… hitched himself up and buttoned his trousers and stepped past them” (347-348). The same detail of buttoning the trousers? I dunno. I realize that’s inconclusive, but that strikes me as a connection we’re supposed to make. Especially since it is “*the man* who was relieving himself”. One little comma, even tacit, changes the reading of that fully.

    Finally: One part of the judge’s final speech that’s driven me mad over the years is:

    “This is an orchestration for an event… The overture carries certain marks of decisiveness. It includes the slaying of a large bear. The evening’s progress will not appear strange or unusual even to those who question the rightness of the events so ordered.” (342)

    Think again about the hand of the judge in all things. What if the bear were not slain? How could the little girl go missing? The shooting of the bear is what *allows* the girl to go missing. It truly is an “overture” for an event.

    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    • This topic was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    09 Jul 2014 at 8:30 pm #5603


    In all fairness, there are a few problems with my reading:

    1) There’s the chapter heading “Sie mussen schlafen aber Ich muss tanzen” (329), or “You must sleep but I must dance”. I think that the most “obvious” interpretation of this is that it is written from the point of view of the judge and is saying that the man is going to die while the judge goes to dance.

    My counterargument to this is perhaps tenuous, but I find it interesting nonetheless. Over the course of McCarthy’s oeuvre, so many of his works either begin or end with someone going to sleep or waking up: Outer Dark begins with Culla in a dream. The Border Trilogy ends with Billy going to sleep. No Country ends with Sheriff Bell recounting his dreams: “And then I woke up.” The Road begins with the father coming out of a dream. The first words of The Counselor are “Are you asleep? // Yes.” And in just about every book, dreams are a very, very notable, important aspect. And there’s a fair case to be made that, in McCarthy, when people are “asleep”, it’s a spiritual sleep. They are blind to any kind of goodness in the world or in themselves. They’re living chained in Plato’s cave. And so I would argue that’s what’s up with the chapter heading: The man is “going to sleep”, he is going completely over to the dark side.

    (Although, I have a German friend who tells me it may be more appropriate to translate this as “They must sleep…”, because that “Sie” means either “They” or a *formal* “You”. Presumably the judge would not address the man as one would a superior. Perhaps then it is the judge’s worker bees in The Beehive who are sleeping? I would certainly believe they are in such a spiritual sleep.)

    2) Consider who survives the Yuma massacre: Besides the idiot and the judge, it’s Toadvine, the kid, David Brown, and Tobin. All people who’ve had animosity with the judge. So perhaps people die once they’ve fully given in to the judge? So if the man is fully giving in to the judge at the end of Chapter 23, doesn’t it make sense that he would die? That’s he’s not the man pissing outside the jakes? Ehhh… Maybe. I’ve been rather sympathetic to that viewpoint at times, but I think that a character has to *do something* to give in to the judge, not just do it mentally. Presumably this would be the man raping the little girl. So maybe he’s not long for this world afterwards? Also, the judge never kills anyone in the gang, so this would be a strange first.

    3) The end scene totally has a Totentanz/Danse Macabre aspect going on. And in fact, in earlier drafts of BM, this is explicit: The judge’s “[C]an you guess who that might be?” (345) was once “Do you know who I am? I am the one who makes the dead to dance.” (Unfortunately I do not recall my source for this. I read it long ago somewhere and remembered it, but cannot remember where I read it. I feel like it was in a short biography of McCarthy written by Rick Wallach, but I cannot find that online any longer.) But whose death is it that they are dancing for? Wouldn’t it be the man’s? Perhaps. I would say it’s the little girl’s.

    4) As discussed at, fire is not *always* good in BM. It is sometimes destructive, sometimes deceptive, and once linked with the judge. If I am wrong in my impression of what fire denotes, much of what I’ve written above may come crashing down.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    09 Jul 2014 at 8:31 pm #5604


    Finally, I feel I should mention two other interpretations of the ending I’ve had over the years. I no longer put much stock in them, but they’re interesting, and who knows, maybe someone else will see them and find them useful. They are by and large attempts to understand why we do not see what’s inside the jakes:

    1) Consider all the judge’s talk re “the witness”: his speech to black Jackson about Sergeant Aguilar (89), his riposte to Tobin after the gang discover “[t]he slain argonauts” (157, 159), and his speech in The Beehive at the end (344). He says that “the very nature of the witness” is “no third thing but rather the prime, for what could be said to occur unobserved?” (159) The judge, with his speechifying, lies, and destruction of artifacts, wishes to replace reality with his vision of it. He argues that reality isn’t real until someone witnesses it, and he manipulates what people witness. Thus, if we do not witness what happens in the jakes, how can we say what really happened? How can we say that anything happened? I have largely moved away from this interpretation because it essentially makes the whole novel the judge’s. There was a time when I seriously wondered if McCarthy was completely insane and was speaking through the judge, and I wondered if the novel was being secretly narrated by the judge and the end was reinforcing his point about “the witness”. I no longer believe that is the case, for various reasons most of which are outlined above.

    2) It is well-known that McCarthy is a science buff. Knowing this, I have speculated that the shutting of the door of the jakes at the end makes the outhouse a Schrodinger box. Note how the judge is linked to elements of chance throughout the book: When the kid chooses his Tarot card in Chapter 7, “[t]he judge was laughing silently.” (99) When the kid partakes in the “lottery” in Chapter 15, he “selected among the shafts to draw one [and] he saw the judge watching him and he paused… He let go the arrow he’d chosen and sorted out another and drew that one. It carried the red tassel.” (213, 214) He performs his “coin trick” (252, 256-257), and coins are commonly linked to fate/destiny in McCarthy: the kid’s dream, the “cara y cruz” parable in ATPH, and Chigurh in No Country. I imagine the judge has control over chance events, that this is one way he manipulates people into doing what he wants. This may well explain what the narrator says after the Tarot scene (a notable “chance” event in the novel), how

    “the ragged flames fled down the wind as if sucked by some maelstrom out there in the void, some vortex in that waste apposite to which man’s transit and his reckonings alike lay abrogate. As if beyond will or fate he and his beasts and his trappings moved both in card and in substance under consignment to some third and other destiny.” (101)

    If man does not move according to his own will or to fate but to some “third and other destiny”, what is that other thing? Given that the judge controls chance events to manipulate people, it may well be the judge. And if he controls chance events and is fixated on the idea of the witness, this only brings to mind Schrodinger’s cat. What happens in the box (i.e., the jakes)? Until someone witnesses it, all outcomes are not only possible, but *extant*. Again, while I think this is a clever idea, ultimately it leaves me dissatisfied because it means the judge is right, that indeed, the witness does create reality. And I believe there’s a stronger case to be made that McCarthy is writing against the judge in BM.

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    09 Jul 2014 at 8:31 pm #5605


    Anyone who reads all this should get a medal.

    09 Jul 2014 at 11:04 pm #5610

    Rick Wallach

    One that reads “mission accomplished”?

    since the last we see of the kid, the judge is grabbing him, and the next we see of the jakes, someone is gasping at the mess inside, I tend to think the kid met a very ugly fate. I’m just working by what we know of the judge’s pattern of behavior. It also makes little sense to think the kid was finally turned the evil when, just before getting to Fort Griffin, he had tried to help an old woman he didn’t know was dead, and had had to kill only in self-defense.

    It’s a good explication for other reasons, but I think you’d need to ignore too many items to arrive securely at your conclusion.

    10 Jul 2014 at 1:51 pm #5613


    Hi Rick,

    Thank you kindly for the response. I’m wondering what items in particular you think I’m ignoring. I admit, I have certainly had my bouts of believing that the ending was the man being killed/dominated by the judge. But little by little that began to erode, starting when I noticed how the man was already on his way to Griffin, that “biggest town for sin”, *before* he shot Elrod. Then there’s the whole thing with reflections and the final candle going out. And I must say I’m quite enamored of my reading of the bear: The bear getting killed *so that* the girl can go missing. I think that’s a rather elegant explanation for what the judge says about the “overture” for an event which “includes the slaying of a large bear”.

    Is there something obvious I’ve missed? I feel I’ve been really thorough and have been extremely skeptical of my own thinking every step of the way. But then, I dropped the ball the other night about realizing Glanton’s body was tossed on the fire.

    (Btw, I’m not so sure I read the man killing Elrod as self-defense. Sure, I personally believe the man was justified in doing so. But I wonder if McCarthy has something else in mind. It can easily be read either way. The whole “be[ing] hid out” and waiting in the dark away from the fire seems rather treacherous. He could have left the area, after all.

    Also, I mentioned on the Idiot/James Robert thread (seventh post) an alternate reading of the eldress in the rocks. I agree, there can be little doubt that it is a pivotal moment for him developmentally, but I think it can be read as demonstrating to him the futility of attempting anything good in this world. And to be fair I would hardly call that scene “just before getting to Fort Griffin”, given that it takes place some sixteen years before. Or perhaps that’s just me being picky.)

    Anyway, thanks again. Much appreciated.

    10 Jul 2014 at 1:59 pm #5614


    Also, regarding the “Sie mussen schlafen…” bit: A friend of mine sent me this:

    Read pages 9-12. It’s a nice close reading of Storm’s Hyazinthen. And it argues that the dance in the poem is one of death, an instance of Totentanz, and the sleep is one of forgetting/ignoring. Very very interesting in light of one of the things I wrote above (on sleep/waking opening or closing many of McCarthy’s works).

    And this is hilarious:

    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    10 Jul 2014 at 3:49 pm #5617


    The “make the dead to dance” is spookily (is this a word?) similar to the Ragman scene where he’s talking to Suttree about being a ventriloquist in the long ago, when he could “make the dolls and bears to talk.” Interesting McCarthyesque construction “to dance/to talk,” maybe along the lines of when he uses “in” the floor rather than “on” the floor. Stands out.

    I’ll take a bronze medal because supposedly there is less mental anguish with those than with silver medals (more what ifs? for 2nd-place finishers).

    Interesting reading, Ed.

    10 Jul 2014 at 7:40 pm #5621


    Hi Peter,

    Thanks a lot. Don’t read too much into that “make the dead to dance” thing until I know for sure it’s real. If I really did get that from something Rick wrote, hopefully we’ll find out soon enough. But I agree, that does sound like that passage in Suttree.

    And easily the most “McCarthyesque” construction I can think of is how the hanged bodies of Toadvine and Brown “looked like effigies for to frighten birds.” I always wondered if there’s an allusion or some kind of justification lurking somewhere behind that. Because frankly that construction sounds rather ridiculous to me. Maybe it’s a southernism? Surely not one I’m familiar with.


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 7 months ago by  efscerbo.
    10 Jul 2014 at 7:54 pm #5624



    The scarecrow imagery might be an allusion to Hollow Men. Just a thought.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 71 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.