Journal article Open Access

Re-negotiating the Western: A Study of Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian

Rohan Hassan

A curiously distinctive American product, Western is a genre of fiction which has enjoyed considerable
popularity in and outside its birth place. Often considered as a prime example of popular culture, the Western
nevertheless has withstood the test of time and continues to capture the imagination of both creative artists
as well as the readers. The Western characters and tropes are instantly recognizable often owing to their
steadfast loyalty to their generic preoccupations. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian with its specific
geographical setting, its historical time frame and its direct allusion to some culture specific myths of the
frontier, naturally demands its own rank amidst the canon of the Western. A truly consummate artist as
McCarthy, however, does not just stop at simply subscribing to the essential tropes of the Western while
writing his novel. What he does instead is alongside evoking the recognizable patterns of the Western, he
provides a covert critique or rigorous revision of them which in turn provides his readers with a much more
complex albeit rewardingly insightful reading experience. This paper provides a brief anatomy of the basic
narrative structures of a Western novel and tries to analyze how McCarthy in Blood Meridian attempts to renegotiate
with them.

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