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Analysis of an Excerpt From The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy Alec, Kelsey & Jeffrey Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it. ~Henry David Thoreau
The Big What • The main characters inability to understand the death of the wolf leads to the natural realization that even though he can draw parallels between his world and the wolfs world, he can never truly understand the wolfs death.
Literary Elements • Enigmatic tone • Elements of Romanticism • Loose Sentence • Commas • Metaphors • Allusions
Enigmatic Tone • The main character is never given a name in the passage, only referred to as “he”. • “He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it, or he reached to hold what can not be held, what already ran among the mountains at once terrible and of a great beauty, like flowers that feed on flesh.” (Line 53) • Contradictory elements help to create a sense of otherworldliness, something beyond human comprehension is taking place.
Elements of Romanticism • “Coyotes were yapping along the hills to the south and they were calling from the dark shapes of the rimlands above him where their cries seemed to have no origin other than the night itself.” (Lines 10-14) • “…like a burning scrim standing in a wilderness…” (Lines 20-21) • “… he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” (Lines 45-47) • There is a stark contrast between nature, “the rimlands”, and the character. • He is separated from nature, and stands apart as a sort of oddity that is desperately trying to comprehend the overreaching laws of nature such as death.
Loose Sentence • “He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it or he reached to hold what cannot be held, what already ran among the mountains at once terrible and of a great beauty, like flowers that feed on flesh” (Lines53-57) • Two portions of the sentence- makes sense without the second part • Second portion draws the parallel between death of wolf and his world
Commas • “He took up her stiff head out of the leaves and held it or he reached to hold what cannot be held, what already ran among the mountains at once terrible and of a great beauty, like flowers that feed on flesh” (Lines 53-57) • Draws a natural comparison between the two parts of the sentence • Shows progressive and flowing thought, human struggle to understand the death
Metaphors • “It steamed in the firelight like a burning scrim standing in a wilderness where celebrants of some sacred passion had been carried off by rival sects…” (Line 21) • “He fell asleep with his hands palm up before him like some dozing penitent.” (Line 31) • “Where she ran the cries of the coyotes clapped shut as if a door had closed upon them and all was fear and marvel.” (Line 51) • Comparison between something that is real or concrete and something that is abstract
Allusions • “Celebrants of some sacred passion had been carried off by rival sects or perhaps had simply fled in the night at the fear of their own doing.” (Line 22) • “…like some dozing penitent.” (Line 32) • “What blood and bone are made of but can themselves not make on any altar nor by any wound of war.” (Line 57) • “Deer and hare and dove and ground vole all richly empaneled on the air for her delight, all nations of the possible world ordained by God of which she was one among and not separated from.” (Line 47) • Using allusions create a parallel to the “other worldly” (biblical/metaphysical) feeling that the main character is trying to connect to
The World We Live In • Understanding other cultures • Connecting with nature (human vs. nature) • Huckleberry Finn
Al Fin Adios The End 結束 Alla Fine Het Einde Sa Dulo