“The Irony of McCarthy’s Use of Title”In the novel All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy, the author shows how important the roles of the horses are in the story and how they relate to John Grady, the protagonist of the novel.The horse has played an important role in the development of America.It has been a form of transportation, easy muscle, and companionship.In the Wild West, it was an essential resource for a cowboy to do his daily chores. McCarthy describes horses as spiritual and as resembling the human soul; meaning that horses came in many different forms.
Horses are pretty, ugly, wild, tame, etc. in the story, they have so many different descriptions and different types of personality that they appear to resemble humans.In the story, John Grady is able to communicate with horses beyond a level normal people could. He could look into a horse’s eyes and be able to see into its heart; because of this distinct relationship Grady is able to compare the world of horses to the world of humans.Throughout the novel, he learns that what he thinks of men and about his romantic idea of living in the world is completely false and wrong.Therefore, McCarthy’s title shows that life can be full of change; and, at times, it can be cruel and ironic.
Because of this, McCarthy’s title shows how much a perspective can change when a man goes on an adventure and experiences things he did not experience before. Meaning that, McCarthy wanted readers to think before they read the book that life is pretty and easy, but after they read the book he wants the readers to know that life is not always how it seems.John is a cowboy and as with all cowboys, their lives all revolve around the horse. While he is at home at his grandfather’s ranch, he basically spends all his time training and breaking horses.His whole life revolves around the knowledge of horses and he does not interact with many people causing him to not know about the true side of humans and makes him to believe that humans are like horses.
The horses in the story represent strength, passion, and freedom of spirit.The respect the ‘vaqueros,’ Spanish cowboys, have for horses appear many times in the book.A perfect example told by Luis, “The old man only said that it was pointless to speak of there being no horses in the world for God would not permit such a thing” (111).This means that the vaqueros keep horses in such a regard that they see them almost as being godly.Vaqueros help John Grady believe his first notion that humans are like horses because Luis saw how important one is to another.
The horses also help support John’s notion; that, horses are spiritual beings because of how important they are in a cowboy’s life.Cowboys hold horses in the highest regard.They use the horses in many ways. They use them as transport, companions, and to sometimes judge a person’s character for example, when John meets Jimmy.
Even John dreams that, as “his thoughts were of horses…still wild on the mesa who'd never seen a man afoot and who knew nothing of him or his life yet in whose souls he would come to reside forever” (118). This means that horses were wild and that they had souls.
This is important because it shows that horses are innocent and pure.Also, it is important that John dreams about them because he sees them as a guide or mentor to him. In the novel, McCarthy uses very descriptive language to describe the horses and how they connect to humans.He depicts the stallions as being wild but having a sense of being right or wrong.Horses are very complicated to John Grady therefore McCarthy wants the reader to know how important they are; so with very detailed imaginary, McCarthy describes a vivid image of a horse, “The painted ponies and the riders of that lost nation came down out of the north with their faces chalked and their long hair plaited and each armed for war which was their life.
..When the wind was in the north you could hear them, the horses and the breath of the horses and the horses' hooves that were shod in rawhide” (5).
This passage shows the passion that McCarthy attributes to horses.The mood created by words such as “painted ponies” is passionate.McCarthy also wants to reader to know how deep Grady sees the horse so McCarthy describes the life and passion that flows through the horses: “John Grady.
..was holding the horse…
with the long bony head pressed against his chest and the hot sweet breath of it flooding up from the dark wells of its nostrils over his face and neck like news from another world” (103). The metaphors used here create a veil of mystery around the horses. The horse’s “hot breath…flooding up” shows energy that manages to sustain the horses.This energy shows up later, when McCarthy writes, “He rode the last five horses…the horses dancing, turning in the light,.