What is the historical context for All the Pretty Horses?What are the moods and attitudes that existed in Texas and Mexico in 1949?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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 In the 1940s before World War II, there was apprehension in the United States that Mexico would side with the Axis powers; fortunately, however, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Mexico declared war on Japan and the Axis powers. During the war, many Mexicans emigrated to the US to work in steel mills and factories in order to replace labor lost to the American draft. However, after the war, President Harry S. Truman deported over two million illegal immigrants in order to open jobs for returning soldiers.

With the disparity of economic power between the powerful United States and Mexico, there was a certain lack of amicableness. But, during WWII, there was an increased demand for raw materials and Mexico profited.  Also, President Lázaro Cárdenas initiated an era of industrial expansion and land reforms. He also nationalized foreign-owned oil concessions, an act which virtually stripped US and British investments made by large companies. Added to this nationalization, Cárdenas instituted a program of heavy protection of Mexican industries from import competition. Thus, there were tensions between the two countries.

Texas, a state that once belonged to Mexico, had people who felt a certain animosity to Mexicans.  Certainly, there was a disparity between the two cultures. In McCarthy's narrative, there are incidences in which the ideologies and reasoning of the Texan differs greatly from that of the Mexican. For instance, a Mexican speaks of how Gringos think that a car is evil.  "It's no good."  But, no Mexican would say something like this because evil cannot be in things.  In another incidence, the Mexicans are wary of the Americans, and they silently watch them. Blevins finishes eating and he leans back; unfortunately there is no wall or back to his seat, and he lands on the ground. Two Mexican girls clap their hands and shriek with delight.  However, Blevins becomes angered, thinking that they make fun of him. Rawlins looks at the girls who now are wide-eyed and serious. 

Both the man and the woman were looking at them with concern....The man of the house looked worried and he leaned to John Grady and made a whispered inquiry.

The Mexicans are worried that the Texans will become violent. So, in the 1940s there was a certain tension that existed between the Mexicains and the Americans because of historical and cultural differences.


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