Effective Use of Dialogue in All the Pretty Horses Essay

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 Effective Use of Dialogue in All the Pretty Horses  

All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy, is, among other things, an exploration of its main character, John Grady Cole. The author chooses words carefully and sparingly when creating dialogue for Cole. In doing so, McCarthy creates poetic effects and rich meaning from limited verbiage. This novelist lets his readers get to know his main character largely through dialogue instead of through direct description. In this way, readers find the techniques used by McCarthy similar to those used by Ernest Hemingway in many of his books and short stories. Like the dialogue of Hemingway's protagonists, Cole's speech is sparse, but it is indicative of a great deal of
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The author both foreshadows the major conflict in this novel and gives us a better understanding of Cole's character in just three words when he replies to a comment from his sidekick, Rawlins. Rawlins has failed to win the affection of a girl he likes, and claims that "She ain't worth it," and that "None of em are" (10). John Grady replies simply, "Yes they are" (10). In this line, readers learn several things. Included are the facts that Cole likes women, and that he is willing to endure greater challenges than some men would for love. One can infer from these facts that John Grady is a romantic because of this attitude--for Cole, love is worth some suffering. Some readers may also deduce, from these three words, that our protagonist is not afraid to speak his mind in the face of a differing opinion--Cole is a character who means what he says and says what he means. These three words presage the coming conflict in this novel which involves his great suffering over his love for a woman. These three words set John Grady up as a romantic or tragic hero.

The long journey south provides us with some time to get to know these horsemen better. Blevins, John Grady, and Rawlins sit around the fire one morning, having just finished breakfast, and we find out some fundamental facts about Cole in just a few words. Rawlins asks his partner-in-crime if he thinks "there'll be a day when the sun won't rise," and Cole responds,
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