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All the Pretty Horses:
Transcript of All the Pretty Horses:
Theme Analysis: Setting
The Cole Ranch
Don Hector's Ranch
The Cole Ranch shows John Grady's innocence in the beginning of the story, as he believes that he can become a cowboy all on his own. At the end of the story, however, it shows his loss of innocence and his growth as an individual when his naive outlook has abandoned him.
Don Hector's ranch is where John Grady first starts to grow as an individual. When John Grady first arrives, the ranch is his dream come true, not to mention a beautiful girl also comes with it. During this part of his journey, John Grady lives within a world of peace, comfort and hope. As time passes, however, complications occur and troubles from the past catch up with him. Everything that was his dream starts to slip from his grasp and he has his first glance at reality. Don Hector's ranch starts to shave away at his innocence, as he notices that dreams do not last forever.
The Prison takes away John Grady's innocence as he sees and experiences the violent nature of the world for the first time. It also shows his naive view of the world quickly fading away as he sees reality clearly. The Prison is where he finally matures and losses his last shreds of innocence.
“Why couldnt you lease me the ranch?
Lease you the ranch.
I thought I said I didnt want to discuss it.
This is a new subject.
No it’s not.
I’d give you all the money. You could do whatever you wanted.
All the money. You dont know what you’re talking about. There’s not any money. This place has barely paid expenses for twenty years. There hasnt been a white person worked here since before the war. Anyway you’re sixteen years old, you cant run a ranch.
Yes I can.
You’re being ridiculous. You have to go to school” (15).
John Grady begs his mother to let him run the ranch because he thinks that he can do it all on his own, at only 16 years old. He does not understand that there is more to running a ranch than breaking horses and herding cattle; there are finances involved. He believes that he can just stop going to school to take care of the ranch. This lack of understanding of reality shows his innocence.
“Son, not everbody thinks that life on a cattle ranch in west Texas is the second best thing to dyin and goin to heaven. She dont want to live out there, that’s all. If it was a pay in proposition that’d be one thing. But it aint” (17).
John Grady does not understand that not everybody wants to run and own a ranch. He has this notion that owning a ranch is the best job a person could have, even without pay. This is where John Grady realizes that all of his efforts are futile and that his mother is indeed going to sell the ranch. His romantic ideal of going off to Mexico and getting his own ranch begins at this point, after he comes across this realization. All of this, however, is just a dream; he does not see reality, that it is 1949 and cattle ranching has severely declined since the industrial revolution. He is blinded by his innocence and is unable to see that the possibility of living his dream is very slim, but he goes on his quest anyway.
“He called her his abuela and he said goodbye to her in Spanish and then turned and put on his hat and turned his wet face to the wind and for a moment he held out his hands as if to steady himself or as if to bless the ground there or perhaps as if to slow the world that was rushing away and seemed to care nothing for the old or the young or rich or poor or dark or pale or he or she. Nothing for their struggles, nothing for their names. Nothing for the living or the dead” (301).
"What are you goin to do?
I dont know.
You could get on out on the rigs. Pays awful good.
Yeah. I know.
You could stay here at the house.
I think I’m goin to move on.
This is still good country.
Yeah. I know it is. But it aint my country.
Where is your country? he said.
I dont know, said John Grady. I dont know where it is. I dont know what happens to country” (299).
"The last time that he saw her before she returned to Mexico she was coming down out of the mountains riding very stately...until the rain caught her up and shrouded her figure away in that wild summer landscape: real horse, real rider, real land and sky and yet a dream withal" (132).
"That night as he lay in his cot he could hear music from the house and as he was drifting to sleep his thoughts were of horses and of the open country and of horses. 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" (117).
"He sat on his bunk in the dark with his pillow in his two arms and he leaned his face into it and drank in her scent and tried to refashion in his mind her self and voice. He whispered half aloud the words she’d said. Tell me what to do. I’ll do anything you say. The selfsame words he’d said to her. She’d wept against his naked chest while he held her but there was nothing to tell her and there was nothing to do and in the morning she was gone" (146).
"At the band’s intermission they made their way to the refreshment stand and he bought two lemonades in paper cones and they went out and walked in the night air. They walked along the road and there were other couples in the road and they passed and wished them a good evening. The air was cool and it smelled of earth and perfume and horses. She took his arm and she laughed and called him a mojado-reverso, so rare a creature and one to be treasured" (123-124).
"The fiscal standard in commercial societies lay a bedrock of depravity and violence where in an egalitarian absolute every man was judged by a single standard and that was his readiness to kill" (182).
"This is a serious business, he said. You dont understand the life here. You think this struggle is for these things. Some shoelaces or some cigarettes or something like that. The lucha. This is a naive view. You know what is naive? A naive view. The real facts are always otherwise. You cannot stay in this place and be independent peoples. You dont know what is the situation here. You dont speak the language.
He speaks it, said Rawlins.
Pérez shook his head. No, he said. You dont speak it. Maybe in a year here you might understand. But you dont have no year. You dont have no time. If you dont show faith to me I cannot help you. You understand me? I cannot offer to you my help" (188).
"He knew the cuchillero had been hired because he was a man of reputation and it occurred to him that he was going to die in this place. He looked deep into those dark eyes and there were deeps there to look into. A whole malign history burning cold and remote and black" (200).
John Grady still has this romantic notion that he can be free with horses; however, this is just a dream. He has no worries and believes that he can just live in the wild surrounded by horses and escape the troubles that surround him. John Grady still has this naive view that he has not grown out of yet.
While on Don Hector's Ranch, John Grady becomes perfectly happy. He concludes that his current life on the ranch, surrounded by the open sky, the vast landscape, and the horses is his dream come true; he almost cannot believe that this is his reality. John Grady does not realize that all dreams must come to an end; he has this view that this dream will continue on. This reflects the innocence he still possesses. All he has experienced so far lacks the truth of the real world: that violence and unhappiness exists.
The part where Alejandra must leave is where John Grady's dream starts to diminish. At the ranch, he finally found his happiness with both the horses and a love, but the dream starts to slowly dwindle away. This begins John Grady's slow immersion into reality. This is also where he starts to grow and shed his innocence as he begins to realize that everything cannot turn out the way he wants and plans.
When John Grady arrives at the prison, he is quickly put into place by Perez. Before, John Grady did not truly understand the reality of the world because he was blinded by his naive view. In his world, violence was a distant reality that John Grady thought he understood. Perez is the first man to point out to John Grady the horrors of the world. This is the first time John Grady is told of his innocence aloud to his face. Finally, the last measure of innocence leaves John Grady.
In this instant, John Grady can for the first time see the violence that accompanies human nature. He is shown that not everyone is innocent and altruistic like he is. There are depths to violence that John Grady has not seen or experienced until this moment.
The contrast from John Grady's views of the Cole Ranch From the beginning all the way to the end, shows how much he has grown as an individual. He no longer sees the world as this beautiful place full of opportunities, but rather a place that does not care for its own people. The depth of this passage shows how greatly his view of the world has changed. In the beginning, John Grady had a naive view that came along with his innocence, but by the end he has a less cheerful outlook as he was stripped of his innocence.
"He held his breath and listened because the room was small it seemed to be small and if the room was small he could hear them breathing in the dark if they were breathing but he heard nothing. He half wondered if he were not dead and in his despair he felt well up in him a surge of sorrow like a child beginning to cry but it brought with it such pain that he stopped it cold and began at once his new life and the living of it breath to breath" (203).
This scene creates a sense of belonging for John Grady. His dream is encapsulated by the events that occur at Don Hector's Ranch, especially with the presence of Alejandra. The mood of happiness is emanated through John Grady's relationship with Alejandra and the horses.
The experience of the prison and the reality of the violence in the world becomes too much for John Grady. He wants to believe that he still lives in his perfect world, where nothing but peace and harmony with the world exists. It becomes too much for him to think of and he has to shut down.
At the end of the story, John Grady experiences this sense of being lost; he no longer considers the Cole Ranch his home. He decides that he must move on, as there is nothing there for him anymore. The growth he experiences throughout his journey helps establish this. In the beginning, the ranch was his home, a place he wanted to fight for, but now it is nothing more than a plot of land. He realizes home is where he makes it and where he wants it to be.
Rawlins and John Grady at Don Hector's Ranch.
John Grady leaves home after the Cole Ranch is put up for sale.
All The Pretty Horses
. Vol. 1. New York: Random House, 1992. Print. The Border Trilogy.
N.d. Equitrekking. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.equitrekking.com/articles/entry/great-wilderness-dude-ranches-rancho-los-banos/>.
N.d. The Fence Post. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.thefencepost.com/news/10867439-113/hall-avitia-texas-durango>.
N.d. Land with Minerals Preserving the Landscape. Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://www.landwithminerals.com/blog>.
N.d. Life Document- What Matters Most? Web. 12 Sept. 2014. <http://lifedocument.wordpress.com/2011/10/18/isolation-as-my-own-prison/>.
In society, especially in prison, violence exists as does the savage nature of the barbaric, maniacal idea that one's worth is measured in brutality. In the prison, violence is at the forefront and rules everything around it. Not only is John Grady seeing the violence of the world for the first time, he is subjected to it. Also, John Grady is expected to succumb to the ruthlessness of his surroundings. These unrelenting surroundings force John Grady to grow and evolve. He becomes an empty shell of a person by the end of this part of his journey. He has completely lost his naive way of thinking because of this.
John Grady Cole is feeling
broken and alone and desperate.
In conclusion, setting and theme are closely correlated, especially in Cormac McCarthy's
All the Pretty Horses.
The Cole Ranch shows John Grady's innocence in the beginning because he believes that he can live his dream of being a cowboy. Don Hector's Ranch shows John Grady's naive view of the world as he thinks that his dream has come true and he can live with complete utter happiness. Finally, the Prison gives John Grady his first real dose of reality and takes away any remaining innocence he possesses, along with his naive view of the world. It all comes full circle when John Grady goes back to the Cole Ranch and the readers can see how much he has changed and how much he has grown.
John Grady leaving the Cole Ranch for Mexico
How do setting and theme interact with each other?
What are the Settings and Themes in
All The Pretty Horses
Theme and setting are closely intertwined throughout most stories. How the setting is seen and viewed has a monumental impact on the events of the story and the interpretation of the theme. Contrasts between different setting throughout a novel can help accentuate the theme by providing characters a means of reacting in different situations.
All the Pretty Horses
, Cormac McCarthy reveals the theme as growth of an individual and loss of innocence through the settings of the Cole Ranch, Don Hector's Ranch, and The Prison and the events that come forth due to the surroundings of the individuals.
How does the Cole Ranch reflect the theme?
Which part of the theme does Don Hector's Ranch express?
How is the theme demonstrated in the Prison?
Created by Emily Crum and Meghan Kendra