Reality and Escape in "All the Pretty Horses"

Essay by RochefortHigh School, 11th gradeA, December 2005

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Throughout the novel "All the Pretty Horses", John Grady Cole is trying to escape the dismal reality of his life and the world around him. This is evident even at the very beginning of the novel as he decides to leave Texas as his whole life is falling down around him, and continues to be a main theme throughout the book. A vivid series of dreams that John Grady has also provides an escape from the hardships he endures through his travels, usually by placing him in his romantic view of the west and the life he wishes to live. John Grady Cole is constantly trying to escape his reality, but in the end all of his attempts prove fruitless as he is forced to face reality.

In the opening of "All the Pretty Horses", John Grady's beloved grandfather is dead, his parents have divorced, and his mother is steadfast in her decision to sell the ranch.

Everything important to John Grady, especially his notion of being a 'cowboy', is sinking. He comes to the conclusion that there is nothing left for him anymore in San Angelo "If I don't go will you go anyways?...I'm already gone, he said" (27) And he sets off on his journey to Mexico to escape his dismal state of being. By leaving his hometown in Texas, he is not only leaving his family and home, he is leaving his entire life and starting with a clean slate in Mexico. Even though this was more of a psychical attempt at escaping reality, John Grady also uses his mind to escape.

Oft and again, usually in the worst of times, John Grady escapes his reality through dream and self-imposed limited cognition. While being held prisoner in a small dark Mexican holding cell, John...