Exploring the Depths of Blood Meridian: Unpacking McCarthy's Timeless Themes

Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian has been praised by readers and critics alike as an important work of literature due to its themes of morality, determinism, causality and the exploration of violence. While the novel may be complex and hard to understand at first, it is full of meaning that can be unpacked upon further analysis. The epilogue in particular has been a subject for debate amongst readers as it speaks to manifest destiny and the banality of evil.


The epilogue paints a picture of a man progressing across the plain by making holes in the ground with an implement with two handles - likely a post hole digger - striking fire out of rock which “God had put there”. Behind him are wanderers who follow his path for reasons unknown; some collect bones while others do not. This image captures what McCarthy believes was wrong with manifest destiny: people moving westward blindly without any moral understanding or justification for their actions. It is this lack of morality which he finds so abhorrent, leading him to paint a bleak picture with no explanation or deeper purpose behind it other than what lies on its surface - that these people just continue moving hole-by-hole across this barren landscape in search for something they will never find.

Beyond manifest destiny, some have interpreted this passage as having wider implications about life itself - that we often move through life without truly knowing why we are doing so, like those wanderers on the plain behind the pioneer man digging holes; even though there appears to be order and restraint in our movements due to some “prudence or reflectiveness,” these things have “no inner reality”. There is no deeper meaning or justification behind our actions; we just move forward blindly hoping something better awaits us at journey’s end.

McCarthy masterfully wrote Blood Meridian using sparse punctuation throughout while also maintaining fluidity – something which can be seen particularly well in his poetic epilogue – allowing readers to interpret it however they want depending on their own experiences and worldviews. Whether used as commentary on manifest destiny or simply taken at face value about humanity’s lack of true understanding when taking action, McCarthy’s writing remains powerful decades after its initial publication reflecting timeless themes still relevant today despite its bloody setting hundreds years ago during America’s expansion westward across North American continent / high plains.. His works will remain widely read long into future generations providing insight into both past events but also humanity’s universal condition now and forevermore.

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