Thursday, April 15, 2010

Blood Meridian Chapter 8

In this chapter, we learn a little more about the men in the group. Also, there is some interesting foreshadowing done in this chapter, especially by the Mexican bartender. McCarthy again provides several wonderful and descriptive similies and metaphors.

The bartender is a very interesting character. He is totally insane, yet he provides the group of men with warnings and stories, much like the Mennonite from chapter 3. One of his best lines is on page 102, where he says, "Blood. This country is give much blood. This Mexico. This is a thirsty country. The blood of a thousand Christs. Nothing." I think that this means that Mexico was a dangerous and ruthless country back in the 1800's where killings and maimings were ordinary (hence the blood). In order to live in Mexico and thrive, you must be able to fend for yourself, however, no significant amount of death or blood could ever change Mexico into something different. McCarthy includes this Mexican character to show a different type of intelligence; an intelligence that comes with living a very hard and challenging life. I also like Toadvine's response to the bartender. Toadvine says, "I pray to God for this country. I say that to you. I pray. I dont go in the church. What i need to talk to them dolls there? I talk here." This shows how Toadvine really enjoys the hard and murderous life as opposed to the safe and simple. It still surprises me that Toadvine prays. This is McCarthy's way of showing how religion can be misused in some ways.

There are several similies and metaphors used in this chapter. Two very good ones are on page 105. The first one states, "The sun to the west lay in a holocaust..." This one confused me a little. I think that McCarthy is refering to a nuclear type of holocaust in reference to the brightness and intensity of the setting sun. The other one says, "...glazed bed of a dry lake lay shimmering like the mare imbrium and herds of deer..." In this sentence, mare imbrium means: a dark plain in the second quadrant of the face of the moon ( Here is McCarthy's eye for detail at its finest. Not only is the lake very hazy and shimmery, it resembles the second quadrant of the face of the moon.

The part where white Jackson gets beheaded by black Jackson was pretty funny to me. First of all, the argument starts off about where the black Jackson could sit. This reminded me of the whole Rosa Parks scenario. But the funniest part is the visual of black Jackson coming out of the dark with two bowie knives and cuts white Jackson's head clean off. The longest bowie knife I found had a blade of 24 inches ( That's the size of a small sword! Now I could see how someone could cut another person's head off using just two knives. McCarthy includes the beheading detail to show the anger that existed between two of the group members. An anger so powerful, it drove a man to behead another must have been locked inside for a very long time. Black Jackson was probably waiting for the perfect time to attack his foe.

One more thing I noticed was that McCarthy includes a detail as the last sentence in the chapter to give an idea what is going to happen next. This is pretty unusual because he has not done this yet in the book. Sure it adds to the anticipation of the next chapter but I would have expected McCarthy to have the Apaches just pop out of nowhere instead of giving the reader a heads up.


  1. Did you even read this book? It was not the bartender or Toadvine that made the speech, it was the old man in the bar.

    Also - Black Jackson did not have 2 knives, he had one bowie knife held in both hands. . .

  2. We did a thorough, chapter-by-chapter analysis over at A perfect complement to what you've done here. You should check it out.