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The Trout

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

We realize that none of these images have been too happy. Well, here's a happy one, although we're not sure how much it'll lift your spirits after all the disquieting stuff. McCarthy gives us pages and pages of violent imagery with only the brief and occasional respite, but the trout are really beautiful. So beautiful that we're inclined (along with quite a few critics) to call the novel's ending hopeful.

Once there were brook trout in the streams in the mountains. You could see them standing in the amber current where the white edges of their fins wimpled softly in the flow. They smelled of moss in your hand. Polished and muscular and torsional. On their backs were vermiculate patterns that were maps of the world in its becoming. Maps and mazes. Of a thing which could not be put back. Not be made right again. In the deep glens where they lived all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery. (390.1)

Even though McCarthy states that these trout existed once, his description is so powerful that it makes us think they might still exist in some remote mountain stream. As if the world, from the maps on their bodies, could come into being again.

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