All The Pretty Horses By Cormac McCarthy Often in literature, authors use the novel's setting to add certain significance to the story's plot. Cormac McCarthy does this in his novel All The Pretty Horses. There is great significance in the setting because the story takes place in two contrasting locations, Texas and Mexico, rather than one central location.
The novel opens up in Texas, in 1950. The opening scene is at John Grady Cole's grandfather's funeral. After the funeral, his mother plans on selling the ranch, where he grew up and all his memories are. She has grown apart from the ranch lifestyle, and spends most of her time acting in the city. John Grady doesn't seem to fit into this new "city life"ÃÂ as evident in the novel. He goes to see his mothers play in the city and is given strange looks because he doesn't look like everyone else.
The closing of the ranch represents the decline in the Wild West, the cowboys, horses, and cattle. The state that John Grady Cole used to know is no longer there. Ranches are disappearing, people are putting up fences, animals and people are no longer free to roam the land like they used to. Ranching is a dying way of life and he realizes this. John Grady Cole's life is in horses, so he decides to do something about it. He leaves the United States to go to Mexico, a place completely different from Texas, where civilization has not reached yet. Along with his friend, Lacey Rawlins, the two set out for a long journey to Mexico.
While in Mexico, the two find work at a large ranch. The area seems to be filled with ranches and so many employment opportunities for John Grady to do the things he loves, being with horses. The two men find themselves having the time of their lives, getting paid, fed, and having fun. Things are starting to look up for them, until soldiers come and take them away to prison. The ranch owner had found out about John Grady's love affair with his daughter, Alejandra, and wouldn't stand for it. While in prison, the two are treated horrible. Both get into harsh fights and get cut by knives, and no one involved gets in trouble for fighting. In the United States, this would be uncalled for. The law in Mexico isn't based on a code like the United States. Mexican laws are based on honor and responsibility. Miraculously surviving this cruelty, the men eventually both get back to Texas.
It is amazing how Texas and Mexico, areas of land bordering each other, can be so different in culture. The declining cowboy lifestyle in Texas is so different than the increasing cowboy lifestyle in Mexico. The United States has become a place where there is little room and crowded. Buildings are placed all over and there are no more ranches. Mexico is so different. The land there is free, ranches are all over, and animals roam freely. In the novel, John Grady goes to this land to live the way he used to, but finds that it isn't always better. The uncivilized way of life finds him being treated unfairly.
The use of these two contrasting setting is very important to the novel. It is the cultures of these places that shaped what happened to John Grady Cole and Lacey Rawlins. Cormac McCarthy specifically uses Texas and Mexico because their settings contrast each other in many ways.