Critical Insights: All the Pretty Horses

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Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses is one of the most well-known works of the last four decades.  The first of McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, it won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the National Book Award. Taking place in 1949, the novel explores the intimate story of relationships while at the same time presenting a global consideration of the American economic expansion that would set the tone for the second half of the twentieth century. The novel also highlights a homogenization of North America thanks to the increase in jobs across the continent as well as the expansion of the transportation system. With America and Mexico sharing an unprecedented period of growth, Americans like McCarthy’s sixteen-year-old protagonist, John Grady Cole, and his best friend Lacey Rawlins could cross the border with ease, bringing into focus how both countries alternatingly accepted and resisted assimilation.  As a sociocultural, political, and economic tour de force, McCarthy’s novel remains compelling and provocative thirty years after it first captured the attention of the literary world in 1992. This collection examines McCarthy’s book from various perspectives—historical, cultural, social, economic, ethnic, and literary. 

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