Literary Elements in All The Pretty Horses

Diction, word choice, and descriptions in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.

            Cormac McCarthy’s way of writing All the Pretty Horses is definitely unique in many ways. Some of which make it particularly difficult to understand, and some make it more of a pleasure to read. All the pretty horses is distinctive in many ways. These ways include word choice, dialogue, and descriptions.

            The word choice of Cormac McCarthy is different because the setting of the book takes place a little after the beginning of the 19th century. McCarthy’s choices of words definitely correspond to the dialogue of that time. Also the story takes place in Mexico and the people that live there are not able to have some of the more expensive luxuries of their time. So many of the objects they used were outdated and would not be readily used or mentioned today. And because the setting is in Mexico many of the names of people and places are Spanish and are hard to understand.  There are also some words the author used to describe things that would be hard for the reader to comprehend because of it being in a different language.

            When McCarthy describes the locations and events that take place the description is so vivid and detailed that it almost distracts you from the plot of the story. He illustrates the events in such an intense way that you can almost attach yourself to what the characters are feeling. In All the Pretty Horses McCarthy explains how John Grady Cole cauterizes his gunshot wound with the barrel of his pistol. As I was reading how Cole “jammed the redhot barrel ash and all down into the hole in his leg.” my thigh began to ache as I felt the barrel enter my own leg. I could actually hear the sizzling of the flesh as it cooked against the steel. The author also goes into such detail describing the characters surroundings that the reader can actually see where the characters of the book are. McCarthy illustrates the environment so meticulously that he does not leave too much up to the reader’s imagination.

            All the Pretty Horses’ dialogue is odd and frustrating. McCarthy does not use quotations around any conversation to signify that there is someone talking. That made it exceptionally difficult to recognize as dialogue. What’s more, many of the conversations are in Spanish. Spanish is tremendously hard to understand when you do not speak the language. Not knowing what the characters are talking about makes the readers feel left out in the story.

            Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is an out of the ordinary yet pleasant book. His different style takes some getting used to but definitely makes this book an enjoyable one.

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1 Comment
  1. Posted December 11, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    You can also view a few of my other articles on various literary pieces.
    http://bookstove.com/book-talk/ideas-in-pilgrim-at-tinker-creek/

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