Tuesday, November 25, 2014


For starters I want to apologize for this being late, I'm just had my world turned upside down and it all still doesn't feel real but my husband came home from deployment this weekend and I lost track of time. I sincerely apologize but plan to get back on track and up to speed. But needless to say I've been on cloud nine and collecting my thoughts lately has been near to impossible. Lol 

This story is dark and very bleak but what stands out most for me other than the blantant plot and story line is the way that Cormac McCarthy tells it; with precise word choice, little detial, and specific uses of punctuation or lack there of. From the beginnin of this novel I noticed that at certain times he doesn't use apostraphes. For instance on page 4 in the first paragraph he doesn't use one for the words wasn't or hadn't but in the next paragraph he does use them for the word there'd. (McCarthy 4). I don't know exactly why he does this, picking and choising when to use an apostrophe but I personally think it might have to do with necessity, the idea of only using things when their needed and that parallels the story with the father and son doing everything they can to preserve what they have. But I'd love to hear others opinions on this grammatic error. 

Another thing I'd noticed is his use of precise word choice. While I'm not a linguist by any means I do find myself to be a fairly articulate person, however some words in this book utterly stumped me and I had to resort to asking Siri on my iPhone to define their exact meanings. For instance, when he says, "She would do it with a flake of obsidian" (McCarthy 58). I had to look up the meaning of that word to figure out that he was saying she cut herself with a shard of extremely sharp volcanic rock, but obsidian is certainly not a piece of vocabulary I have sitting idly in my reportoure. Then there's when he's describing the people that pass by them on the road and says that there are catamites in their party (McCarthy 92).  I had no idea what that word meant, so I again resorted to my good old smart phone to help me out. Learning that they are young boys that are used as sexual partners with men. Thanks for that Google. This word choice is odd to me since the rest of the narration is so plain and straight forward yet at the same time it is saying something. I believe it's telling us that the man, the father, was intelligent. He was someone of higher social class and intelligent. I'm not sure if he was a doctor but it's seems to me that this hints at the fact that at this time, those things; social class, wealthy, higher education, those things don't matter anymore. What matters is being able to survive. 

Lastly I wanted to bring up the boys use of the word "Okay" in conversation. A majority of the conversations shared between the boy and his father all end with this sentiment and I believe it says a lot about the boy and his mind set. Children often are not so understanding, they question, the want answers, they constantly ask why. But this boy doesn't, he does have questions but it's not the same necessarily. I think his acceptance of the realities around him is part of his character, he's agreeing to what's being said to him and making peace with that being the truth. He isn't flippant or being passive, he's understanding and in a way the boy is being shaped by the lessons and truths that he's learning from his father, in this strange reality. 

This book is great, the writing style is awesome and there's so much to pull from it besides just what the story itself is saying. There was one more part, I don't know if anyone else noticed where the author actually changed perspective of writing. There's a shift from third person with the narrator being someone not in the story to first person where the father himself is actually relaying to us what is happening (McCarthy 87). It's when they're discussing the child having seen another boy, but the father insists that is was a dog. Instead of the original narrator telling us this, the father directly tells the audience that the boy doesn't remember having seen a child, that he saw a dog and remembers that but not a child. This was strange to be that suddenly the narration changes and the father directly addresses a situation. Was he trying to defend himself, had the child really just imagined it? It's hard to know, or understand why exactly McCarthy chose to do this in his writing at this moment. 

I hope everyone back in STL is safe and that things settle down soon. 


  1. I think you have a good point that the boy does not ask questions but just accepts the reality of their life.

  2. Kayla,
    Congrats, and I LOVE the pictures! You (or the photographer) should submit the second image to Sycamore (our lit. magazine). It's awesome!
    How is your husband doing?

    I agree with your interpretation of the apostrophe use. In wasn't and hadn't, it is pretty easy to figure out the meaning without the apostrophe, but in there'd it would be harder and might distract. I feel like McCarthy varies between that pared down style and a much more lyrical, formal style in places that really adds another layer to the novel. McCarthy seems very intent on resisting the apocalypse tropes that result in what Badrillard refers to as "disaster porn."

    1. Thank you, it was a pretty amazing day. I am grateful to have him home. He's having a nice time on leave but since I could only stay for a week because I had to come back for finals he's looking forward to coming to STL to get me.

      I think grammar can mean so much to a story and I think that McCarthy found a way to transform a story about the apocalypse into something amazing about the relationship between a father and his son and the relation to the world after it comes to a time of absolute crisis. It's heartbreaking to see them with so little of anything, it's hard to read their story about a child being raised in a world like this. Who knows maybe the punctuation means something to do with the childs lack of formal education. But what McCarthy makes clear is that the tiny details don't matter. He doesn't spend pages and pages talking about the surrounding, instead he really focuses on what's happening to the father and son and I think that really makes this story stand out because it's not trying to shock the reader. It's not necessarily trying to entertain, beyond the basic joy of reading, but more it's trying to enlighten and cause the reader to really think.