Study Guide

Glanton in Blood Meridian

By Cormac McCarthy


Glanton is the toughest, meanest dude you'll find in this book. Well…maybe the judge is tougher, but Glanton is sure mean. He takes total pleasure in killing things for the sheer fun of it, as we see when he tests out his new gun on whatever animals are around him:

Glanton turned with the pistol and shot a small goat that was standing with its throat pressed to the wall in terror and it fell stone dead in the dust. (7.4)

When the gun dealer asks if they have a deal on the price of the guns, Glanton answers, "Not till some money changes hands it ain't agreed" (7.17). Frankly, Glanton has a psychopathic hatred for all forms of authority…and goats, apparently. He also hates the suggestion that anyone could ever have any power or bargaining position over him. He simply acts as though the world belongs to him and he's willing to die to keep acting that way.

You can see the cracks showing in Glanton's mindset when a fortuneteller starts talking about his future. Glanton can't stand the idea that any force other than himself will control his future, so he pulls his gun on the fortuneteller and says, "By god you will shut up" (7.161). Very mature, Glanton.

Later on, some of the narrator's comments tell us that Glanton is coming apart in his mind and thinking about all the men he's lost:

That night Glanton stared long into the embers of the fire. All about him his men were sleeping but much was changed. So many gone, defected or dead. The Delawares all slain. (17.9)

Eventually, it's all too much. Glanton keeps upping the ante on his violence rampages until a group of Yumas finally kills him. As the book suggests, it's impossible to be as self-obsessed and as independent as Glanton without having some kind of death wish. Basically, Glanton's motto is, "My way or the highway."

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