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All The Pretty Horses

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Cormac McCarthy shows how important horses can be to a cowboy in his great western classic All The Pretty Horses. Horses were once the backbone of American civilization, in an era before trains, cars, and airplanes. They were especially prominent in the mythic cowboy culture of the west. On a long ride a horse would serve a cowboy as transportation, and not to mention companionship in a solitary environment. A story of change, John Grady Cole, the protagonist, and his friend Lacy Rawlins embark on an adventure to find the cowboy lifestyle they want to live in Mexico. John Grady Cole exhibits an amazing gift that allows him to communicate with horses better then most other people. This ability and his respect for the animals quickly gains him respect among the “vaqueros” or Mexican cowboys. 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, and that horses are the only pure things he has left. Therefore, McCarthy’s title shows how life can change, and sometimes it is both cruel and ironic. It shows how much one person’s perspective can change due to the experiences they face. All The Pretty Horses makes you think that it’s a soft story, while upon reading a realizations is reached that is not about how horses are pretty but how evil men can be.

McCarthy uses lots of description when he is talking about the horses, and especially about their relationship to man. Horses are very essential to John Grady, as well as all other cowboys, therefore McCarthy wants to stress to the reader how important they are; so with very detailed imagery, McCarthy paints a very detailed image of horses, “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)” His knowledge of horses brings him favor in the eyes of the owner of the ranch, Don Hector Rocha y Villarreal, who asks him to assist in breeding some new horses. Horses are John Grady Cole’s passion, and the lines that McCarthy gave to horses are full of passionate language, such as when John and Rawlins are breaking the horses. John spoke to the horses in a soft, comforting tone, almost as a parent tries to calm a child.

John Grady Cole at first relies on his knowledge of horses to navigate society, “What he loved in horses he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them. All his reverence and all his fondness and all the leanings of his life were for the ardent hearted and they would always be so and never be otherwise. (7)” When John starts out on his journey, he knows very little about human society, but he has always found men and horses to be similar. John knows that horses are warm-hearted and thinks that men are also. He wants to have a journey that



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