The Issues of Morality in Blood Meridian

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Every society has an established system that categorizes a behavior as being good or bad. It all depends on what is considered proper or improper. Literary artists in various settings have had an interest in describing and discussing certain behaviours as per their perceptions. From their works and other non-fiction works, there seems to be some recognized moral principles and standards that are prevalent across many societies and cultures and could therefore be taken for being universal. These traits include honesty and compassion. Cormac McCarthy an American author produced the novel, Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West with the character like the kid and Judge Holden as the protagonist and the antagonist. McCarthy uses the two characters to demonstrate the two stands of morality. The protagonist is pro-morality while the antagonist engages in activities that are seemingly immoral. The story revolves around the historical time when America was in intense violence at the border with Mexico between 1849 and 1850. During this time, there was a gang by the name of Glanton Gang that purposed to hunt human scalps. They engaged in mass murders as they sought to get the scalps. Their main target was the Native Americans as some regional leaders paid bountifully for any scalp of the Apaches. As the demand for the scalps increased, the gang murdered almost everyone that they came across including the Agrarian Indians, vulnerable Mexicans, as well as Mexican and American soldiers. Judge Holden first interacted with the kid in a religious revival in Texas where he accuses the clergyman of raping a young girl and a goat and even incites the attendees of the revival to physically attack the preacher. However, Holden’s accusations were false. In addition, the kid is involved in a fight with a bartender in an instance where he is recognized as an excellent fighter. The kid is thereafter convinced to be part of the US Army irregulars to claim land, Mexican land for the US. The gang succeeds in entering Mexico but many are killed while others, including the kid, were arrested. During the arrest, he meets Toadvine, who facilitates their release to join the Glanton Gang. Upon release, they meet Holden, who kills innocent people brutally for the scalps. The gang engages in extreme activities in Arizona where they take over a ferry belonging to the Yuma, but the Yuma’s overpower them and kill most of the gang members. The kid and Toadvine survive with injuries. Afterwards, they encounter Holden who tries to take their pistol and reserve water. Holden attacks Tobin and the kid fires back by shooting at the Judge’s two horses. Furthermore, Holden gets furious and wants to kill the kid. The kid also had chances to kill him but hesitates showing his compassionate side. They eventually get to San Diego but they are arrested again. They are suspected of being involved in the Gang and the kid tells the authorities of how the Judge led the gang in committing crimes. Therefore, the kid maintained a moral principle of being honest and compassionate despite being entangled in a very violent environment.

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The kid is exposed to extreme violence throughout his life. Regardless of the fact, the kid still showed acts of compassion. At a tender age, he attended the revival where he witnessed Holden hypocritically accusing an evangelist of raping a goat and a young girl, thereby instigating people to mob the preacher (McCarthy 56). In the same manner, the character in question attacked a bartender physically injuring him after they crossed paths (109). After these encounters, the kid discovered that he was a good fighter, and as a result, he was involved in different gangs where he would use the skill in fighting to enhance his survival in a notable violent environment. Throughout his journey the kid still portrayed to readers, also noticed by Holden, that he is different than most of the members in the gang, For example, McGill, a member of the gang, was caught on fire (163). At that moment the author made it known that the kid approaches with acts of compassion to try to help his comrade but unfortunately, Glanton stopped him. Another similar illustration would be when Davie Brown, another teammate, had the misfortune of getting an arrow pierced through his leg (167). Davie asked for help and everyone refused, as they knew the consequence that would happen to them if they failed to take the arrow out, but the kid was keen on helping him. To conclude, McCarthy wanted the readers to see this side of the kid, making the little details of compassion make a great impact in the kids timeline.

People that are often exposed to gang activities are easily thought to be dishonest. Gangs are known for training their members to keeping the secrets of the group and not exposing anything despite the pressure. The kid was involves in several gang activities. He could be mistaken for a totally immoral person that would never open up about the truth concerning his membership or any other person’s participation in the gang activities. However, he proves to be moral when he was arrested and imprisoned at San Diego (253). Holden visits him in jail where he tells him that he had told the soldiers the truth about everything. The kid is however quick to tell Holden off that he was a leaser of the Glanton Gang. His sincerity and reproach amuses Holden, who in several instances had been depicted as a dishonest person that would lie over anything. Holden could have adopted the immorality from the ruthlessness in the battlefield and the exposure to violence. However, the kid’s honest character was never altered by the violence or influenced by Holden.

In conclusion, the discussion above comprehensively covers the issues of morality as they relate to exposure to violence in Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West. The common assumption would be that people the engage in violent gang activities are immoral, ruthless and do not have any sense of humanity. They could be believed to have no value for the life of others or uphold simple values such as honesty and mercy. However, there are certain members of the violent communities that still uphold morality and show acts of mercy, and honesty. The kid from the novel is a perfect illustration of how humans should hold on some of the essential moral principles despite the exposure to environments that discourage any form of morality.

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