Written by Dylan Richmond ’18
Over the short three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas Break, AP Literature students have selected a book of their choosing to which, with a few other classmates, they have discussed the book as they would within a normal class.
Avery Jurek, Jake Bieler, and I, Dylan Richmond, chose All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. Having already read The Road by McCarthy, I was interested to see whether the author’s writing style would change or keep the same dark, uninterested tone. So, some may either be happy or disappointed to know that McCarthy does not throw a curveball.
The story begins in San Angelo, Texas, with young John Grady Cole in a bit of a situation when his parents divorce. His mother decides to sell the ranch, and John figures that running off to Mexico with his friend, Rawlins, is a better life than not living on the ranch.
The two journey through western Mexico on horseback seeking paradise in a desert. Along the way they meet a peculiar young lad, Blevins, who has also run-off. Blevin’s stories often do not line up; moreover, he also happens to have in his possession a beautiful horse to which the two recognize to only cause trouble in Mexico. Nevertheless, together they continue to travel south until, as predicted, Blevin’s horse is taken in a rainstorm. Eventually they find the horse and, although John and Rawlins decide against stealing back the horse, Blevins was not going to give up that horse. In the ensuing chaos that commenced upon the horse stealing, the three become split into their original groups.
John and Rawlins continue their journey until the paradise they had been seeking unfolds before their eyes. They find work on a enormous ranch in the area gathering and training wild horses. While there, John finds love with his boss’ daughter, Alejandra, and, despite being told from her relatives to back off from a girl of her status, intends to marry her. Once the father is revealed to the truth and Mexicans from the north declare that three americans stole their horse, John and Rawlins are jailed. There they find Blevins, already there for some time. After discussion with the authorities, they find their situation is helpless in the corrupt system without money. They are transported farther north where Blevins is executed and they to a penitentiary.
John and Rawlins quickly realize that fighting is the only way of life when incarcerated and are subject to such abuse every day. Eventually, they become targeted and both are nearly killed by knife attacks. Luckily they survive, but John was forced to kill the attacker in defense. An experience that troubles him for the rest of the story. After some time in a dark room being treated for his wounds, John and Rawlins are released. The reason being that Alejandra’s aunt paid for their release on the condition that John and Alejandra are forbidden to see each other.
John and Rawlins split ways, Rawlins to Texas and John to see about Alejandra and the horses. He meets with Alejandra for a day but their love is cut short when she decides that they should abide by the rules. He then treks home and along the way steals back the horses while taking his old captor hostage. Eventually, John releases the hostage and travels along the border to find the original owner of Blevin’s horse. A few men lay claims to the horse and after a heated dispute the judge rules in the favor of John for the custody of the horse. John then makes his way home to where he returns Rawlins’ horse and then bids his farewell as he takes off once again into the wild.
The story often describes with deep thought and immense details the night sky of the wild and it should also be noted that the Americans are on their horses the entire time. It is a story of danger, love, wildness, horses, and the dying breed of the cowboy.