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Reading Log #8

Reading Log #8



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Published by Scott

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Published by: Scott on Apr 07, 2008
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Scott 2Scott SuasoMr. SmytheEnglish 11 Period #52/20/2008
The Crossing
Cormac McCarthy201
The Crossing
is a novel about achieving independence, responsibility, andcourage. In broader terms, it follows the journey of a 17-year-old boy intoadulthood. Written by Cormac McCarthy, an established and well-respected authorfor his previous works, it is the second book in a trilogy, and is noted for beingmore melancholic than the first. Called “
The Crossing” 
, it follows the journeys of Billy, and for a time his little brother Boyd, as they make numerous “crossings”over the New Mexico/Arizona border into Mexico and back again. The book'stheme represents the dying western frontier, and along with it the way of life of the areas inhabitants, both never to return again. The book's dark mannerreinforces this, and as you read you'll find yourself hard pressed to establish amoment when you aren't depressed; especially if you happen to be male, as youwatch that self-reliant, independent, frontiersmen lifestyle die away, a lifestylethat the soul craves, and which everyman dreams of. In my opinion this is not abook for the weak heart, but if you can withstand then it is sure to force upon youa new outtake on life , and a new appreciation for the American
Scott 2Southwest/Mexican North and those who lived there.
The Crossing
is actually three stories, all following some of the samecharacters and setting, but with a different plot. I have only read the first two, butyou needn't read all three to understand the rest. The first follows, Billy, hisfather, and to a lesser extent Boyd, as they set out to trap and kill a pregnantfemale wolf; one of the last wolfs remaining in an area once teeming with them.When she is caught in one of Billy's traps he finds it difficult to bring himself to killher, and immediately sets out on returning her back to where she is believed tohave come, the mountains of Mexico, without notifying his family. He does not doso on purpose, but hunters have been reported in the area, and taking her homefirst would just mean Billy's father would do the deed. So the story continues overthe next couple weeks as Billy encounters the Mexican populous, Americans,Native-Americans, and vast stretches of mountains, rivers, valleys, and plains.After this the second book then begins, and we start off with Billy deep in Mexico,lacking food, money, and the most important of all, company; he does haveragged, dirty clothes, an underfed, tired horse, and unfinished business. Once hehas completed his business he must now journey out of Mexico and back home.He only stops to find a lone Mormon (priest?) living in a half-destroyed chapel, in aghost town perched on the edge of a cliff, living with a couple dozen cats andsome interesting revelations on God and the world. Once home though he learnsthat things have drastically and irreversibly changed, and keeping intone with therest of the book, not for the better. So once again he must return to Mexico, butthis time with his brother, as they set out in search of their families lost horses
Scott 2and a man, and they hope away from the law.
The Crossing
has little conveyed through it's dialog, and the author sticks toa more poetic style for dialog forgoing standard quotes and the “He said/She said”beginnings. This allows the author to shift a lot of the focus from the relationshipsbetween characters, to the individual actions of each character. McCarthy choosesto explore a lot of his themes through actions such as in this excerpt, “Crouched inthe broken shadow with the sun at his back and holding the trap at eye levelagainst the morning sky he looked to be truing some older, some subtlerinstrument. Astrolabe or sextant. Like a man bent at fixing himself someway inthe world. Bent on trying by arc or chord the space between his being and theworld that was. If there be such space. If it be knowable.” Here McCarthy isshowing us how a simple action such as laying a trap can be much deeper.McCarthy is telling us that when Billy's father is setting the trap, he is actuallyforming a connection with himself and the world, he is finding a place that he fits.I particularly noticed how McCarthy said, “the world that was”, which traces backto my original point of the dying frontier, and how Billy's father can no longer findthat connection between himself and that way of life he used to belong too.Along Billy's journey he encounters a number of particular travelers whoexplain to him their deepest philosophies in a sophisticated dialog. This isparticularly so in the Mormon, who says “Things separate from their stories haveno meaning. They are only shapes. Of a certain size and color. A certain weight.When their meaning has become lost to us they no longer have even a name. Thestory on the other hand can never be lost from its place in the world for it is that

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