Date of Award
Billy J. Stratton, Ph.D.
American West, Amoral, Cormac McCarthy
The history of the American West, of conquering the frontier, forms the very backbone of national identity in the United States. Cormac McCarthy's southwestern works probe the Western mythic: Blood Meridian, No Country for Old Men, and his screenplay The Counselor offer an alternative to the romantic, antiseptic Western American tradition, exposing the necessary complexity of a realm that cannot be encapsulated in the binary dualism that has so long defined it.
The amoral nature of Cormac McCarthy's antagonists demonstrates that the story of expansion is more complex than is/has been typically understood, both by scholars and the public. McCarthy is offering a different lens through which to examine a foundational period for the nation - one characterized not simply by the traditionally recognized ethos of rugged determinism, but also by depravity and bloodshed. This work seeks to reveal that lens, in an effort to demonstrate the importance of reconceptualizing American identity.
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Arthur, John Thomas, "Amoral Antagonists: Interrogating the Myth of the West in Cormac McCarthy's Fiction" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1252.
Received from ProQuest
John Thomas Arthur