Image Study

 The first picture that I have here is a picture of money. This is the driving force behind all of the terrible things done in this book. When the kid first unites with the scalp hunters, they are charged with the task of finding, and killing an Indian leader who is terrorizing the town. With this they are told that for every Indian scalp they bring back, they will get one hundred dollars. This causes them to kill everyone they encounter along the way when they are in search of the Indian leader. Whether they are innocent or not, man or woman, adult or child, they kill indiscriminately, and some of them with joy. They scalp anyone who could pass for an Indian warrior, and at one point in the story they bring 128 scalps into town. Only a fraction of these are from Indian fighters. The rest came from innocent people who were unfortunate to get into the path of these horrible, greedy men. I think in the end, that is what McCarthy is commenting on. The greed exhibited by these men is a horrible thing and led to the deaths of many, many people. That lust for money was one of the biggest, and most dangerous problems on the early western frontier.

This picture of a gun represents the violence of the novel. The entire premise of the novel is a group of men hunting and scalping Indians, yes, but McCarthy brings the violence in this book to very brutal and almost unnecessary levels. At one point in the novel, one of the men in the group, the judge, is asked by a local town boy to buy two dogs. The judge does so and even pays the boy more than the asking price, and after purchasing these dogs, he, “crossed upon the stone bridge and he looked down into the swollen waters and raised the dogs and pitched them in.” After seeing this, another man in the group shoots both of the dogs and kills them before they drown. This mindless brutality is prevalent all throughout the band of scalp hunters. We see time and time again how they will kill and old lady for no reason, or even kill one of their own over a squabble around the fire. McCarthy often goes into a very detailed description of gore when some unfortunate soul become one of the novels many casualties. McCarthy makes sure to jam into the readers throat that these men were far from the romanticized version of cowboys we think of today. They were cold, hard killers because that’s what it took to survive in the lawless land of the old west.


This is a picture of an Apache Indian. The Apaches are the real fight for the scalp hunters. They are the tribe that the scalp hunters contend with and actually fight against. They are powerful warriors and can be just as brutal as the scalp hunters. That being said, the Apache, and all other Indians in the book, are somewhat of an enigma. They only show up at inopportune times and wreak havoc upon the scalp hunters. Once they are done killing, they disappear off into the desert, victorious. Now the Apache are important because they show the true weakness of the scalp hunters. These are men who can kill defenseless people without a problem, but when they face a real enemy, a warrior, they are virtually helpless. So far, the scalp hunters have not won a single fight against the Apache. A fight against the Apache always results in their defeat, and the death of more than a few of the hunters. McCarthy is trying to make a point with this by saying that even though these men are hardened killers and tough guys against the weak, they are no match for a real enemy. McCarthy is saying that being a tough guy doesnt make you strong.

This is a picture of the setting of the novel, the mid-western desert. This is the heart of all of the problems. It is common knowledge that this place has a brutal history and that whites and Indians fought bitterly over these lands. Going back into the story, you can see that this is the heart of the problem. The only reason the scalp hunters started was to stop Indians from raiding the towns of the area. They are raiding the towns because they want their land back. Unfortunately the whites want the land too, and both sides are more than willing to fight for it. McCarthy uses this place as the perfect stage for his novel about violence and greed and killing. The best part is, it’s only partly fiction.


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