The End of BM: A Reading

This topic contains 70 replies, has 17 voices, and was last updated by  dexel 3 months, 3 weeks ago.

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  • 10 Jul 2014 at 8:43 pm #5626

    wesmorgan
    Member

    Ed,

    The “for to” is a well-known Appalachian construction. Montgomery and Hall (2004) in their Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English have this to say about it: “10.1 for to. In Smokies speech an infinitive is sometimes introduced by for + to when general usage has only to. In some cases this construction expresses a purpose and has an intervening noun that functions as the subject of the infinitive. In others the verb introduced by for to has the implied subject of the higher clause, in which case it usually expresses a purpose and is often equivalent to ‘in order to'” (pp. liii-liv).

    I have not found where they discussed constructions like “to dance” or “to talk,” but I have heard them most of my life.


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    19 Jul 2014 at 4:10 pm #5650

    efscerbo
    Member

    There’s something interesting about the man shooting Elrod given what I’ve argued about reflections: Elrod seems to function as a double of sorts for the man. Elrod’s fifteen, same as the kid was when the book began. They quote each other (“They aint nobody done it yet.” (10, 335)). As a very astute friend of mine pointed out to me recently: the man killing Elrod (a version of his younger self) is a reversal of the child being the father of the man. And both are time-traveler’s paradoxes.

    Perhaps this plays into the man having no reflection in the mirror behind the bar?

    Also, for years I felt the man was at least partially justified in killing Elrod. Elrod came seeking him, after all, threatening with his rifle. I can’t read it that way anymore. There’s something about the man hiding in the dark that doesn’t sit right with me.

    It’s also interesting that the man kills Elrod, while just 10 pages or so before (even though it’s several years that have passed) he was carrying around a bible and trying to help the “eldress in the rocks”. It’s also interesting that he kills Elrod so readily yet refused to kill the judge back in the desert.

    And that same astute friend knows a bit of Hebrew: He has confirmed that “Elrod” comes from “Elrad” which means “God rules.”


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    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  efscerbo.
    19 Jul 2014 at 11:49 pm #5652

    Rick Wallach
    Keymaster

    ef: That first paragraph of yours on the Elrod/Elrad relationship and closing the circle on the narrative is terrific. You ought to be down here in Sydney with us. Sorry you’re going to miss the conference – your input and participation, I’m sure, would have been an asset to the proceedings.


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    20 Jul 2014 at 2:01 pm #5654

    Glass
    Member

    Good stuff, Ed. Nice segue into time traveler’s paradoxes in the Elrod scene when we hear the old hunter: “I wonder if there’s other worlds like this, he said. Or if this is the only one.” (317)

    Strangely enough, beyond the doubling, some pretty interesting parallels in the Elrod scene from BM can be found in Suttree’s walk in the woods. Though it’s comical as opposed to the heaviness of the Elrod scene, Suttree lipping off and getting mouthy with the crossbow hunter is similar in some respects to Elrod dogging on the kid/man in BM. Elrod is skeptical about the ear necklace, while Suttree jazzes the hunter about how many animals the hunter has taken with the bow.


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    20 Jul 2014 at 2:33 pm #5655

    Are medals still being awarded for reading all this thread? If so, I’ll take the Silver Star, an award which I justly deserved for falling (or being pushed) off a Munchen barstool during the “Cold” War.

    Ef, you keep talking about the ending of BM and the Kid as man. He is a man by now but still the Kid. The novel ends with the Epilogue’s steel-stone-fire-in-the-hole man, whom Harold Bloom convincingly posits as a positive counter to the Judge. I don’t believe you mentioned the Judge in the jakes gathering the Kid into his “terrible flesh.” This is the first sign that the big boy murdered the kid; the second is a guy horrified at what he sees in the jakes. The Judge has apparently mutilated the Kid.

    Rick, looking forward to your next blog from Aussieland.

    Ole Fart


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    20 Jul 2014 at 5:05 pm #5657

    efscerbo
    Member

    Rick – Thanks for the kind words. ‘Tis much appreciated. Although, as I mentioned, unfortunately I can’t take credit for noticing the connection with the child giving birth to his older self and the man killing his younger self. That was a friend. But yeah, I think being in Sydney would be a blast. Hope it’s as good as it sounds.

    Peter – Agreed, that’s a neat connection with the buffalo hunter. And I’ll reread that scene in Suttree. Thanks.

    Bob – You definitely get the Silver Star! Thanks for reading. Not quite sure I follow what you mean by “He is a man by now but still the Kid.” Would you mind elaborating?

    I fully agree that the man in the epilogue has to oppose the judge, if for no other reason than a structural one: What other possible purpose could the epilogue serve? Since the judge seems to “win” so roundly at the end of Chap. 23, if the epilogue were simply a reinforcement of his point, it would be dead weight to the novel. It has to provide an alternative. And I would hazard a guess that it has to do with the stone/fire duality that Peter, Richard, and I were discussing at http://www.cormacmccarthy.com/topic/the-subjunctive-mood-and-fate/. But I have no idea what role the other people (“the gatherers of bones and those who do not gather”) serve here. Perhaps some association with “bones” as a motif or symbol would be useful, but I’ve got nothing.

    As far as the “terrible flesh” goes, I did allude to it. I mentioned how when the judge “gathered him in his arms” at the end, it recalls the judge pulling the idiot out of the Colorado (“he gathered the naked and sobbing fool into his arms”). In so doing, I hoped to make an argument that the last scene can be read not as the judge killing the man, but as extinguishing his fire, so to speak. Turning him fully evil. I recognize my reading isn’t perfect (in particular, I have no idea of what to make of there being no witness to what happens in the jakes, given the judge’s repeated refrain re “the witness”). But I definitely think there are some interesting points there that could help explain/interpret other aspects of the book.

    For instance, if the judge kills the man, the obvious question is: Why? Why now, after 28 years have passed? What does the judge get from killing the man, and why couldn’t he have done it at any earlier point? Also, if my memory serves me, the judge never actually kills anyone in the gang (maybe Tobin, but who can say for sure?), so this would be a first. However, if we imagine the man giving in to the dark side at the end, well, I think it’s easier to answer the Why? question: The judge has always wanted to corrupt the kid, but he needed the kid’s consent. He needed the kid to “choose” to become evil. He’s the corrupter, the adversary of man. And surely it’s at least possible that what the bystanders find is not the man but the little girl. And even this would help understand things like the dwarf whore, the repeated detail of the buttoning of the trousers, and the bear getting killed as an “overture” for an event (namely, the girl going missing).

    However, the “terrible flesh”, what the bystanders find, and the “Sie mussen tanzen…” heading aside (although, I’m skeptical that “sleep” means “die” there), is there anything else that pushes people toward thinking the man has been killed as opposed to corrupted? I tried really hard to find counterpoints to what I presented above, but I didn’t see all that much to this end. But maybe I missed some things?

    Ed


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    • This reply was modified 2 years, 9 months ago by  efscerbo.
    21 Jul 2014 at 7:23 pm #5664

    Ef,

    You did say the Holden gathers the man in his arms but you didn’t stress “terrible flesh,” a clear sign that the Jedge is a murderous varmint. I really don’t understand why you keep calling the kid the man. I don’t recall how the kid is termed later in the novel, but even if McC calls him “the man,” it’s obvious he’s the older form of the kid who began the story.

    Anyway, it’s good to see you writing at length about McCarthia of which you’re quite knowledgeable and in love with.

    Yes, I ended with a preposition following Churchill’s dictum against purists who insist on placing it elsewhere in sentences: “That is something up with which I will not put.”

    Ole Fart


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    22 Jul 2014 at 10:23 pm #5678

    Glass
    Member

    “They aint nobody done it yet.”

    Are the kid and Elrod “Bayesian supermen?”

    http://noahpinionblog.blogspot.com/2014/07/bayesian-superman.html?m=1


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    23 Jul 2014 at 12:54 am #5679

    Webmaster
    Keymaster

    efscerbo: 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.

    As a Southerner, yes, I’d have to say that’s a Southernism.

    As in:

    Where were you?

    I went for to get some groceries.


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    23 Jul 2014 at 4:25 pm #5684

    efscerbo
    Member

    Bob – Fair point. And I definitely realize it’s still “the kid” at the end, I’m just following McCarthy’s denomination.

    Peter – Ha! “You’re talkin my language, son.” Although, Bayesian probability can be a bit thorny: It’s not that the *theorem* is false. But interpretations of it sometimes go off the rails. Namely when these interpretations leave the realm of mathematics/statistics and go into everyday life. There’s a sizable group of “Bayesians” based here in Berkeley (they are *not* affiliated with the university, although they have poached a few graduate students), and they’re not always the most “rational” (pun very much intended). See http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Roko%27s_basilisk for a particularly egregious example of people who “are in love with intelligence” and whose “ideas are terrifying”.

    Webmaster (think I’ve seen you called Marty ’round these parts, but correct me if I’m wrong.. Nice to meet you) – I guess if a character had spoken that line I wouldn’t have had a second thought. But the fact that it was the narrator is what caught my ear. Anyway, thanks for confirming that.

    Ed


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