Blood Meridian Questions and Answers
by Cormac McCarthy

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What could be an example of a clear, focused, and arguable thesis statement for a paper that analyzes violence and morality in Blood Meridian?

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In Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy presents a realistic narrative which deconstructs the traditional motif of the Old West, specifically through two characters: Judge Holden, whose belief in predestination compels him to exert violence over others without moral implications, and Ben Tobin, an ex-priest who believes morality exists through a human connection to an all-knowing God.

McCarthy typically does not explain the reason behind many of the violent acts and instead portrays violence as inherently necessary to basic survival in a world moving from barbarity to civilization. This narrative style is a drastic change from the traditional Western genre, which feature media like spaghetti westerns. It’s worthwhile to examine specific themes within this genre, such as the wandering protagonist hero, and explain how McCarthy either reinforces or deconstructs these themes and motifs.

The theme of violence is philosophically juxtaposed by two characters: Judge Holden and Tobin. As a believer in predestination, Judge Holden views violence as the ultimate proof of existence. When a man takes another man’s life, it is simply one man exerting his existence over another. Since all actions are predetermined, there is no reason to not participate in violence, and this violence has no negative moral implications. How can a natural act be immoral?

On the other hand, Tobin rejects predestination for the idea of free will and the existence of an all-knowing God. Tobin believes in making decisions in order to serve a high power, while Judge Holden believes a person can become a god on earth by dominating others.

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