Themes from American Literature: Nothing is Forever

A very important theme in this book comes to light about halfway through. A man by the name of “the judge” is telling a story to the band of Indian hunters. In the end of the story, he makes a comment about humans of the current era. The judge says, “The way of the world is to bloom and to flower and die but in the affairs of men there is no waning and the non of his expression signals the onset of night. His spirit is exhausted to the peak of its achievement. His meridian is at once his darkening and the evening of his day… This you see here, these ruins wondered at by tribes of savages, do you not think that this will be again? Aye. And again. With other people, with other sons.(p.147)”

McCarthy is, first off, commenting on the idea that our society will last forever. The judge prefaces his nugget of wisdom with a speech about the Anasazi, a great and ancient tribe that used to live in that region. He says that they are gone now, but someday, the will return. The implication here is that our society will collapse and the new one will take over eventually. The judge uses the example of the Anaszi because they were not only a great societ, but a good one, respectful to the land and its inhabitants. McCarthy wants to make clear that our society can not last forever.

McCarthy emphasizes that the way of the world is for things to be born, grow, and die, but man goes against that law. Man does not end, and refuses to. He will make the time his own and change the natural way of things. Now this is said in a broad spectrum, but its implication is a more narrow target. He goes on to accuse the people of believing that they will last forever, and that they are special. He then goes on to refute that by saying that there have already been great civilizations that have risen and collapsed, and eventually it will happen to us, and then happen again.

Now although this is being said to a group of Indian hunters, the real audience is the people of America today. It is very common to find someone today, in America, who assumes that we are the best in the world and we will rule supreme forever. McCarthy is blatantly accusing these people of being stupid and wrong. It is ignorant to assume that. History repeats itself and in the past, all of the great civilizations have fallen. McCarthy is telling these people that nothing is forever.


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