Essay on Flight in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

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Flight in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses

In an enticingly realistic novel, contemporary western writer Cormac McCarthy tells the coming-of-age story of a young John Grady Cole whose life begins and, in a sense, ends in rustic San Angelo. Page by page, McCarthy sends his protagonist character creation on a Mexican adventure, complete with barriers, brawls, and beauties. The events which bring about John Grady’s adventure and the reasons behind his decision to flight familiarity are the most intriguing aspects of the novel. Through an examination of the text, readers can determine that John Grady Cole’s hellish plunge from his position of grace on his grandfather’s ranch in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is a
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The familiar west in which “he rode where he would always choose to ride” would soon change as his very way of life came under fire (McCarthy 5). The real woe lies in the helplessness John Grady is feeling. After speaking with his mother’s lawyer, he realizes the permanence of her decision. There simply “ain’t no changing her mind” (McCarthy 17). His mother is holding a proverbial trump card: John Grady is forced to fold.

After being forced to succumb to the destiny of life absent the ranch, John Grady is faced with making a decision that will decide his fate, a decision greatly affected by the Post World War II Texas culture in which he was being raised. John Grady could seize the opportunity that presented itself after the loss of the ranch to start a new life somewhere in Texas. He could try to fight his mother’s decision. However, the stark realization, to John Grady as well as McCarthy’s readers, is that John Grady was “already gone” the minute the ranch was taken away from him (McCarthy 27). The separation of John Grady from his familiar ranch-life was a painful idea, especially during the late 1940’s, when little other but ranching was available to native West Texans. John Grady’s life revolved around the land of “painted ponies” and “wild horses”; a land of “red wind” and “coppering” sun (McCarthy 5). Yet he found himself as a boy in
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