Cities of the Plain – post III

Whenever you read a McCarthy book you always sense that there are moments that carry great symbolic weight. The problem is that when most of the book is broken up with a pattern of dialogue the prospect of a wall of unbroken text signals something is happening. As a result you tend to concentrate that little bit harder than elsewhere in the book and when you come away not quite understanding if there was some sort of hidden meaning you might have missed it can be frustrating.

Maybe there is nothing there anyway and it is a shame to spoil the reading of a good story but it is hard not to. For instance when a pack of wild dogs is discovered in the rocks above the pastures and it is responsible for killing calf’s a whole section starts on the chase to hunt them down. In the end using cowboy skills to lasso and kill the wild dogs the problem is solved but maybe the message is that the only chance these cowboys have for using their skills is on dogs.

There is also something about the way John Grady turns the abandoned shack into a home for his bride to be that reminds you of a simple life of the past when people lived on the land.

The story starts to move towards its pivotal point when the young girl will leave the brothel and try to meet up with Grady and cross the border so they can start their life in America.

The blind piano player from the brothel that Grady has befriended warns him that the pimp who runs the brothel is in love with the girl and he will kill her rather than let her go. There is also a suggestion that she is ill and has not told Grady about herself.

As she breaks out of the brothel and heads towards the border the girl is met by a taxi driver and promised to be taken over the bridge but she is driven to the river and waiting for her there is the brothel pimp’s sidekick armed with a knife.

More tomorrow…


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