Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

English (Literature)

Department or School/College

Department of English

Committee Chair

Brady Harrison

Commitee Members

Nancy Cook, David Emmons


Authority, Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy, Hero, Judge Kid Relationship, Protagonist, Resistance, The Judge, The Kid


University of Montana


In this study I examine the relationship of “the kid” and “the judge” in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian Or The Evening Redness in the West (1985), specifically, how and why the kid resists Judge Holden’s overbearing existential philosophy. In my introduction I set the stage for Judge Holden’s imperial philosophy and practice through a brief explanation of his character, both historical and fictional, and the novel’s success because of his tyrannical grandeur. I then juxtapose the recalcitrant character of the kid against this megalomaniac to set up the rest of the examination of their relationship. In my chapter on Judge Holden’s universe, I outline his worldview through close readings of his endless lectures and soliloquies, and argue that his ultimate concern is for control. Chapter Two lays out the particulars of how the kid resists this control through various strategies that directly oppose the judge’s controlling mechanisms. Finally, my third chapter examines the implications of the kid’s resistance and how it affects the judge on the narrative level, and how it affects readers’ ability to approach this juggernaut anew. Maintaining a focus on the kid, as the judge does throughout the novel, despite both the novel’s noticeable focal shift off of him, and his reluctance to engage on a dialogic level, argues for a new reading of the kid. Though he kills and raids with the rest of them, the judge’s inability to extend his usual control signals something morally unique in the kid. Not enough to save his life, but enough to lend some heroic credence to the mysterious figure of the novel’s epilogue.



© Copyright 2009 William Dean Clement