“To Make a Fire Somewhere Out There in All That Dark”: The Mystery of Evil and Grace in Cormac McCarthy’s Later Works
Ziegler, Aaron Christopher
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CitationZiegler, Aaron Christopher. 2019. “To Make a Fire Somewhere Out There in All That Dark”: The Mystery of Evil and Grace in Cormac McCarthy’s Later Works. Master's thesis, Harvard Extension School.
AbstractThis thesis explores the seemingly paradoxical and mysterious relationship of evil and grace in Cormac McCarthy’s later works: No Country for Old Men, The Road, and The Sunset Limited. While McCarthy’s literary worlds articulate a metaphysical collapse and are consequentially replete with such cruelty as to appear entirely absurd and devoid of beauty, the later works actually reveal a robust set of grace moments. A scholarly conversation attempting to ascribe McCarthy’s fiction as gratuitously cruel, on one extreme, and explicitly moralistic, on the other extreme, often denies the interdependence of terrifying, unintelligible evil and unexplainable goodness and beauty in McCarthy’s fiction. In fact, evil and grace, as much as they represent vastly different forces, share a strange, inextricable relationship. In considering the pairing of evil and grace, McCarthy raises profound questions about the notion of living in a world of such polarizing forces. Through a study of the later works, in accepting the terror of the metaphysical collapse along with the moments of grace, McCarthy suggests that living in such a world requires turning toward the terror—not escaping from it—and persisting in whatever moment, on whatever road, and through whatever journey.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365379