In this chapter, the group of men accomplished almost nothing. They only got one scalp out of the Indian ambush, they met some new and doomed friends, they got some deer meat, and they saw another group of renegades. That pretty much sums it up. However, McCarthy still finds a way to make art with his words in some of the simplest circumstances. McCarthy could make the act of combing one's hair the most detailed and intricate act ever achieved.
McCarthy's best and most intellectual paragraph is when he describes the inability of man to control his future (aka. the part about the tornado/dust devil). McCarthy writes, "Out of that whirlwind no voice spoke and the pilgrim lying in his broken bones may cry out and in his anguish he may rage, but rage at what (McCarthy 111)?" In this sentence, McCarthy shows us his view of death. He thinks of death as an inevitable circumstance that cannot be avoided. Therefore, man cannot be angered by his demise because his demise is destined to happen. This could be a form of foreshadowing that may predict the deaths of several men in the posse. I like McCarthy's description of the snake-bitten horse. He writes, "...with its head enormously swollen and grotesque like some fabled equine ideation out of an Attic tragedy (McCarthy 115)." I think that McCarthy is referring to the fairy-tale like stories we used to believe as kids (the whole monster in the closet thing). The thing I don't understand is why McCarthy chose to capitalize attic in this sentence. Judge's conversation with the prospectors is very interesting. Obviously he knows much more than they do, or more like he makes it seem like he does. The Judge has the talent of being able to please or punish people in the confines of one sentence. McCarthy probably added this characteristic to the Judge's personality to show how easily man can be manipulated and tricked. Also, the description of the Judge naked on the top of the building amid a storm of lightening just added to his craziness.
Now for the research portion.
I found that most of the ore prospected was for gold, not for industrial metals. Although mines would pump out lots of gold and riches, the prospectors would very rarely get any money for themselves (wikipedia.com). Most of the miners and prospectors panned the streams for gold, however some actually found huge deposits in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This was a hard life that was very dangerous at times. Even though riches were rarely found, thousands still fled toward the west in search of gold.
On page 120, the phrase ignis fatuus is used. This means: a flitting phosphorescent light seen at night, chiefly over marshy ground, and believed to be due to spontaneous combustion of gas from decomposed organic matter (dictionary.com). This is a fancy term for swamp gas. Also, the word fusil is used. This is a light flintlock musket (dictionary.com).
A good simile is on page 109. McCarthy writes, "...rode out of that vanished sea like burnt phantoms with the legs of the animals kicking up the spume that was not real..." This helps us visualize how the heat of the desert and plains can force some images to be misinterpreted or seed differently. This helps us, as readers, imagine how it would be seeing a large and fearsome enemy on the horizon of a strange and hot land. Another thing is that McCarthy references the supernatural alot in his writing. He mentions phantoms and ghosts in almost every chapter, which add to the mystery and strangeness of the west.
There were a couple of things I didn't understand. Who killed the young kid? It may have been Glanton, yet I'm not sure that Glanton is evil enough to kill a kid for just staring at him. Also, near the beginning of the chapter, McCarthy describes a deep rumbling of falling rock within the earth. Is this supposed to be an earthquake? Sometimes McCarthy's descriptive nature makes it hard to understand what exactly he is trying to say. I'm not sure what my fellow classmates think but sometimes being to descriptive can be a bad thing.