Masters Thesis

“He speaks in stones”: sentient environments in Cormac McCarthy

The setting for Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is the American-Mexican southwest borderlands in the middle of the nineteenth century. McCarthy’s No Country for Old Men, meanwhile, takes place in the same region at the end of the twentieth century. In No Country for Old Men, descriptions of natural landscapes that dominate Blood Meridian have fallen away while much of the story itself takes place indoors and in automobiles. This thesis evaluates the narrative implications of such a transition in McCarthy’s work, relating the transition to historical changes in the American landscape between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as well as the genres of the western and the noir.