Nihilism and Existentialism in Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing

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Nihilism and Existentialism in Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing

Cormac McCarthy's second book in The Border Trilogy offers an impressive array of worldviews all competing together in the larger narrative framework of the novel. These are not only expressed through the life of the protagonist Billy Parham and his brother Boyd, but also in the narratives of the many people they encounter on their horseback journeys through the hot desert sands of Mexico. Critic Robert L. Jarrett, associate professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown, suggests the same in Cormac McCarthy, noting that "Despite the claims of the ex-priest [in The Crossing] that all men's tales are one, such visions or tales are individual, highly
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In his encyclopedic entry "Nihilism," Dr. Alan Pratt, professor of Humanities at Embry-Riddle University, points to the passage in Shakespeare's Macbeth when she goes into her soliloquy about the futility of life to demonstrate the stance of the existential nihilist in classic literature:

Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more; it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing. (Qtd. in Pratt, para. 12.)

Other well-known motifs that express the existential nihilist's perspective of life include the Greek tale of Sisyphus, first noted by novelist Albert Camus in his 1942 book The Myth of Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a cruel king in Corinth who was condemned to spend eternity rolling a huge boulder up a mountain, knowing full well that once he reached the top it would again only come rumbling back down, yet he shouldered his burden again and again, faithfully trudging back up the mountainside in compliance with his fate. For the existential nihilist, the

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