Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
The Border Trilogy is a fictionalized portrayal of two boys’ pilgrimage from youth to manhood during the years immediately before, during, and following World War II. John Grady Cole and Billy Parham are the central figures in a sweeping story depicting the decline of the cowboy way of life in the American Southwest.
All the Pretty Horses opens in 1949 with sixteen-year-old John Grady Cole, the last in a long line of Grady ranchers, facing an uncertain future. His grandfather has just died, and his father has returned from the war disillusioned and sick, prompting his mother to sell the ranch and leave Texas. With his horse Redbo and his best friend Lacey Rawlins, Cole decides to head south across the Pecos River into Mexico. At the border crossing, the two pick up young runaway Jimmy Blevins. When Blevins’s horse is spooked during a lightning storm, Rawlins and Cole are reluctantly drawn into a plan to retrieve it. During the attempt, bedlam breaks out, and Blevins is separated from Rawlins and Cole. Subsequently, he is caught by the Mexican police and later executed. Cole and Rawlins eventually wind up being hired to break horses on a large hacienda, where Cole engages in forbidden love with the owner’s beautiful daughter, Alejandra. This leads to a succession of disasters, from the boys’ arrest and incarceration to Cole’s involvement in a prison killing. Once they are released from jail, Rawlins decides to return to Texas....
(The entire section is 729 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
It is 1949, outside San Angelo, Texas, and the death of John Grady Cole’s grandfather causes his absentee mother to sell the family ranch. John Grady’s poor, ill, vagabond father, who is also a gambler, cannot help the family.
John Grady and Lacey Rawlins, his friend, head for Mexico. The boys enjoy the old cowboy life without the cattle. They are followed by a skinny younger boy who calls himself Jimmy Blevins and claims ownership of the magnificent bay, or red-colored horse, he is riding. Although John Grady and Lacey doubt his story, they allow him to ride along anyway.
Jimmy exhibits his shooting skills and regales them with his stories. One day a norther, or strong storm with north winds, threatens, and Jimmy insists on trying to outride the storm; he hides in an arroyo wearing only his dirty underwear because he fears the fastenings of his clothes will draw lightning. The next day, John Grady and Lacey find Jimmy with only one boot and no horse. His clothes have washed away in the flood of the storm. John Grady consults the reluctant Lacey and then lends Jimmy a shirt. He and Jimmy ride double.
In Encantada, they spot Jimmy’s pistol in a man’s hip pocket and his horse in an old mud building. Rawlins argues that they should ride away before it is too late, but John Grady realizes that he cannot abandon Blevins, and Rawlins agrees to stay. Blevins says that he will not leave without his horse, saddle, and gun. The boys...
(The entire section is 2349 words.)