'He contemplated the wildness about him, the wildness within'. What does Cormac McCarthy reveal about his views of the relationship between man and the land in 'All The Pretty Horses'?

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In ‘All the Pretty Horses’, McCarthy presents the reader with a protagonist whose magnificent connection with the land and, more specifically, with horses, extends into the metaphysical range, in terms of its spirituality and mysticism. It is this connection, and his Emersonian-like desire to embrace and enhance this unity which acts as a catalyst for John Grady’s departure from America. By 1949, America had become too technologically dependent to support John Grady’s more spiritual aspirations and the novel which is ‘grounded in the nostalgic, mythic remembrance of the Old West and American cowboys’ laments the loss of these ideals. The novel depicts John Grady’s attempt to resurrect a dying relationship between man and the land, taking him on a journey through the savage brutality and uncontrollable wildness of Mexico. In returning to America and the boundaries and lawfulness he was trying to escape, McCarthy suggests that John Grady has come full-circle.

Indeed, Zill argues that John Grady’s return is synonymous with his disillusionment and his defeat and this psychological return is reflected by his geographical return, highlighting the intimate connection John Grady shares with the land.

McCarthy presents John Grady as being nostalgic for a less technological way of living. His mother’s sale of the ranch on which he grew up symbolises the passing of the Old West and reflects what was happening on a broader scale in an increasingly modern America. Whilst the story is set almost half a century before McCarthy was writing, the feeling that America was lacking something, both psychologically and geographically, would have been incredibly poignant in 1992, given the political unrest following a one-term presidency. It is impossible for John Grady to retain his romantic vision of the cowboy life in America and he is forced into Mexico to attempt to recapture these...