Date Thesis Awarded

5-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)

Department

English

Advisor

Rich Lowry

Committee Member

Colleen Kennedy

Committee Member

Kara Thompson

Committee Member

Tim Barnard

Abstract

One of the most pervasive themes in Cormac McCarthy's westerns is the importance that sons ascribe to their fathers' history when trying to define manhood. In the absence of their fathers and grandfathers, McCarthy's male characters are often unable to develop a cohesive code of masculinity that will help them to deal with the realities of violence and loss. In looking to and for their fathers, sons also face questions about the country that they inhabit and how to negotiate the profound alienation and dislocation they feel. This thesis explores the various "crises of sonhood" that characterize Blood Meridian (1985), All the Pretty Horses (1992), The Crossing (1994), Cities of the Plain (1998), and No Country for Old Men (2005). In these fictions, McCarthy engages the myth of the West to diagnose what he sees as a persistent struggle with masculinity: the inability for men both to come to grips with the past and escape the burdens of sonhood.

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