31. When the Blood Trail Comes Full Circle: Cormac McCarthy's Gothic of Guilt

  1. Charles L. Crow
  1. Ronja Vieth

Published Online: 13 SEP 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch31

A Companion to American Gothic

A Companion to American Gothic

How to Cite

Vieth, R. (2013) When the Blood Trail Comes Full Circle: Cormac McCarthy's Gothic of Guilt, in A Companion to American Gothic (ed C. L. Crow), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118608395.ch31

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 SEP 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 NOV 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780470671870

Online ISBN: 9781118608395

SEARCH

Keywords:

  • Cormac McCarthy;
  • Frontier Gothic;
  • National Guilt;
  • Manifest Destiny;
  • Appalachian Gothic;
  • Southern Gothic;
  • Tennessee Novels;
  • William Faulkner;
  • Western Fiction;
  • Post-Apocalyptic

Summary

Even though Cormac McCarthy's fiction is not generally classified as American Gothic, many of his works contain Gothic elements. Set in Tennessee, his early works sporadically utilize the tropes of the American Gothic in order to investigate the relationship between personal, societal, and national guilt; however, it is not until his later work set in the American West, Blood Meridian, Or the Evening Redness in the West (1985), that the Gothic tropes used for this inquiry have resulted in a full-fledged Gothic novel. McCarthy's investigation of moral ambiguity and guilt continues and comes full circle in its return to the east coast in his latest novel up to date, The Road, published in 2006. In it, McCarthy investigates questions of guilt by looking at people who attempt to make morally sound choices when faced with the harshest circumstances imaginable, namely a post-apocalyptic American landscape.