Codified into the word : the intersections of language and violence in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/bn999997b

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  • In this thesis I argue that Cormac McCarthy's 1985 novel Blood Meridian serves as a critique of the American Western mythos by collapsing aspects of myth, ideology, and the sublime into the question of violence's relationship to language. In explicating the novel, I demonstrate how the ironies staged between the character of the kid and the novel's narrator and the ironies represented in the language and characterization of Judge Holden reveal McCarthy's critique by pointing toward the violence inherent in the language of myth. Along with this discussion of myth and ideology, I also analyze how the figuring of violence as sublime in the novel gets coupled with moments where characters exhibit either an unconscious desire for language or a marked absence of language. The significance of these moments, I contend, extends McCarthy's critique of the American mythos by undermining the Western genre's trope of the stoic hero while also exposing the ways in which the novel draws together the nature of language and the nature of violence. Blood Meridian thus serves not as a libratory revisionist critique that seeks to re-write the American mythos but as a much darker meditation on the ubiquity of violence—a violence that manifests itself all too often in textual form.
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