'Blood Meridian', Cormac McCarthy

I was searching through my bookshelves last night for something else when I came across this. Good as it was (and I’d be interested to hear other opinions) the ending of this bothered me. What happened in the ‘jakes’? Are the Judge and the Kid gay? If so, is it me or does this come out of nowhere? Is it rape? Or am I completely misinterpreting this? I can’t think what else would elicit the reaction it get from the people in the area. This has bothered me since I finished the book some time ago, so now I turn to the Dopers for help.

So my questions are:

What is happening between the Judge and the Kid at the end?
If it is as above, was this as much a surprise to everyone else as it was to me? Or am I just really naive?
If it wasn’t that, what was it?
Was anyone else confused?

All help gratefully accepted. . . :slight_smile:


Great book…

I am not a literary theorist, and it’s been awhile since I read it, but (Spoilers) here’s my takes.

  1. The kid has been trying to escape his past, possibly trying to redeem himself from Devil’s work he had done. But, the evil, i.e. the Judge, catches up to him and literally envelopes him back into his folds, killing him. A debt repaid, so to speak.

  2. The kid is an afront to the Judge’s sensibilities. The Judge cannot stand that a unique thing exists without his permission, as proven by his sketches. So, the kid, being the last of the marauders besides the Judge, must be killed. The Judge ambushes him in the outhouse, and probably squeezes him to death, as he was quite capable of doing.

The ending wasn’t so much a surprise for me. It was very unsettling though. My question, is how did Toadvine and the other survive the Judge’s barter in the desert, and go on to get hanged in a frontier town? I think is was Toadvine. Like I said, it’s been awhile.

Thanks deball. It certainly makes sense. I just don’t get the reaction of the people who see them, although I suppose another death would, under the circumstances, be taken quite matter-of-factly.


Oh yeah, I forgot about the reaction of the people. I’m pretty sure they don’t see them. I was always of the opinion that they came a bit later and saw the body of the kid, as left by the Judge, who is off dancing. They say their remarks, and not wanting to get involved, leave.

I agree, but think there was a rape involved as well as a killing.

You’re probably right… The Judge had an implied penchant for raping males. Homosexuality has nothing to do with it. I remember there was a mexican boy, and it was pretty heavily suggested that he or someone from the marauders raped and murdered him. Then there was the mentally retarded man. Something was going on there. As far as him raping the Kid, it definitely could have happened, as well as numerous other foul things. I was left with the picture that the body was left in a completely defiled state.

The Judge’s preference is for young children of either sex. It never occurred to me that the Judge murdered the Kid. I simply assumed that he murdered him in a horrible way.

I think I’m going to have to re-read this, there’s obviously a lot that I missed, it was a few years ago. Has anyone read ‘All the Pretty Horses’? I’ve got that too, although I haven’t read it yet.


I’ve read all of his stuff, except the plays. Suttree is easily my favorite and I still read it about once a year. Blood Meridian would be second, followed by the Border Trilogy:All the Pretty Horses(awful movie), The Crossing, Cities of the Plain in the order they were written. The older books Child of God, etc. I’ll just lump at the end, though they are good.

IMHO he is the most stylistic/gifted living American writer going these days. I was very happy to see him break out of relative obscurity. Anyone who liked Cold Mountain would be doing themselves a favor to read McCarthy.

Although Blood Meridian sounds interesting, I haven’t read it because of the negative reviews I read regarding All the Pretty Horses. Maybe I’ll give it a look.

Blood Meridian is incredibly brutal, just so you know.

All the Pretty Horses was a National Book Award winner, and most of the major complaints I’ve ever heard about it regard McCarthy’s punctuation style, or lack of, and the sections of untranslated Spanish. It is a powerful coming of age novel, as is the The Crossing.

deball, have you read Notes on Blood Meridian? It is a graduate student’s (largely successful) attempt to verify the mostly true, historical facts and personages presented in Blood Meridian, and is a fascinating read. McCarthy’s style of retelling actual events is amazing, both for the beauty of his prose, and for the insight into the human condition. We are truly an abominable race.

The passages of All the Pretty Horses I’ve read showed a pretentious, overwrought style, but I’m going to give Blood Meridian a chance. I’m not afraid of horrific violence in novels, just bad writing.