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McCarthy vs Faulkner

Though Cormac McCarthy’s All The Pretty Horses and William Faulkner’s The Unvanquished are completely different, their style and plot techniques share more similarities than differences. All The Pretty Horses and The Unvanquished both depict the importance of honor in a persons life, whether it be honor through vengeance, honoring family, or honoring the tradition of woman, these two novels teach that honor can create a stronger person.


Vengeance plays an important role in both books. “At first Granny had not wanted to be dead either but now she had begun to be reconciled. We unwrapped it from the jagged square of stained faded gray cloth and fastened it to the board. ‘Now she can lay good and quiet,’ Ringo said.” (Page 184) Bayard and Ringo would be considered cowards and shunned from their plantation if they had not gone out to hunt down Grumby. Killing the murderer was the only type of justice served and accepted in society back then. John Grady Cole felt a great load of pressure on himself for Blevins’ death, and he knew it would be everlasting if he did not avenge Blevins’ death. John sets out with a passion to kill the captain and regain the horses, but realizes that the captain will have a tougher time staying alive and John let’s him go. This relieves the tension that Blevins’ death caused.


Honor towards family plays one of the most important roles in The Unvanquished as well as in All The Pretty Horses. Bayard must honor his family name by killing B.J. Redmond and live by the same term his father did, “who lives by the sword, must die by the sword” (Page 214), but Bayard chooses to confront Redmond in a different, courageous way, without killing him and making him a coward of the town. Honor is also important with a young woman and her father in Mexico. Alejandra must honor her father’s request not to be with John Grady Cole. Although she is very tempted to run off with John, Alejandra partially honors her father’s request never to see John again. After spending a day with John on her way home from school, Alejandra denies his asking of her to run away with him, John asks her why and she refers to what her father did when she told him she first fell in love with John, “I didn’t know that he would stop loving me. I didn’t know he could. Now I know.” (Page 252) This shows how serious Alejandra’s father was emphasizing the fact that in Mexico, a woman’s reputation is all she holds.


As far as woman and children were concerned no one would harm them physically, it was a rule. This is what ensured Granny that she wouldn’t be harmed when she went to Grumby, but Granny intimidated him and out of fear Grumby killed her. Later, when Matt Bowden (a member of Grumby’s clan) was giving Grumby to Ringo and Bayard, he scolded Grumby with, “We had a good thing in this country. We would have it yet, if it hadn’t been for you. And now we’ve got to pull out. Got to leave it because you lost your nerve and killed an old woman...” (Page 180) this shows that even Grumby’s clan members were disappointed and ashamed of him. Alejandra was looked down upon when she fell in love with John because in Mexico a woman's reputation is her only hope in succeeding in life. If she has a bad one she will become poor and if it is good she will marry and have a home. Alejandra’s father became worried that people would notice that she was in love with John and take it the wrong way, which would reflect on her reputation.


Honor is defined as person’s high standing among others. It is very obvious that John Grady Cole, Alejandra, Ringo, and Bayard all fulfill this definition. This honor was achieved through vengeance, honoring the family, and honoring the tradition of woman and it established a more dynamic person out of all of them.

 

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