The Crossing: Cormac McCarthy

Essay by blisstex_2006High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

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In this excerpt from The Crossing, by Cormac McCarthy, the subject has killed a wolf and is presently brooding over his feelings regarding the fallen creature. His thoughts are displayed in a rather convoluted manner, many of which offset one another, and can cause confusion for the reader. Fortunately, through the usage of diction, syntax, and imagery, McCarthy helps to convey the impact that the experience of the situation has on the main character.

Diction plays an enormous role in expressing the impression the wolf's death (and circumstances surrounding it) has on the subject. From the onset, the author establishes a dramatic mood by describing the scenery as having "talus sides" (Line: 1) and "tall escarpments". (Line: 2) As the passage progresses, the passion of the choice of words increases. Such is exemplified in Lines 57 and 58 when the author states: "What blood and bone are made of but can themselves not make on any alter nor by any wound of war".

Such a quote implies that the elemental make-up of a body can create the shell of a creature, but no act of man can bring back a soul to fill the casing. The terms "blood", "bone", and "wound of war" are all very fervent and poignant expressions. Their usage conveys the gravity of the quote itself. The utilization of a simple, two-lettered word held great meaning to one particular line of the passage: "He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it or he reached to hold what cannot be held..." (Lines: 53 - 55). The placement of "or" implies that the subject is confused about his own emotions, but the situation indicates that they are strong. Simply holding the wolf's corpse in his arms is an attainable feat, but the...