Study Guide

Blood Meridian Race

By Cormac McCarthy

Race

"I was a slaver, don't care to tell it. Made good money. I never did get caught. Just got sick of it" (2.47).

Early in the book, the kid meets a man who used to capture and sell slaves. But the man says he got sick of it. You'd like to think he quit because he felt immoral. But the truth is that he didn't like spending so much of his life around non-white people.

"What we are dealing with, he said, is a race of degenerates. A mongrel race, little better than n—s. And maybe no better" (3.95).

Captain White really has a hate-on for the Mexicans. This probably has something to do with the fact that at this point in history (the 1840s), the Americans have just finished fighting a war with the Mexicans. And war has a habit of bringing out some racist attitudes against the enemy.

"In this company there rode two men named Jackson, one black, one white, both forenamed John" (7.1).

There are two John Jacksons in Glanton's militia—one black and one white. And guess what? They don't get along one bit. The world ain't big enough for the two of them, and one eventually kills the other. You'll have to read the book (or our chapter-by-chapter summary) to find out which one lives.

"You don't get you black ass away from this fire I'll kill you graveyard dead" (8.77).

The white John Jackson doesn't want to share the same campfire with the black John Jackson. Why? Because racism. Little does he know that this final insult will come back to bite him.

"In three days they would fall upon a band of peaceful Tiguas camped on the river and slaughter them every soul" (13.17).

Glanton doesn't really care whether the people he's slaughtering are armed. He just rides in and takes them all out. All he sees are non-white people who he wants to wipe from the face of the earth. Some might call this racist, but to us it sounds almost genocidal.

"[They] rode out north in the cold darkness before daybreak carrying with them a contract signed by the governor of the state of Sonora for the furnishing of Apache scalps" (15.1).

Despite his brutal behavior, Glanton always finds a way to get new contracts for hunting Apaches in Mexico. The Mexicans figure that even though Glanton is bad, the Apache raids are even worse. So they'll take on one problem at a time and worry about Glanton after the Apache threat is gone.

"I don't like to see white men that way, Glanton said. Dutch or whatever. I don't like to see it" (16.16).

Deep down, Glanton has a lot of pride in the white race. He never likes to see any white person living a dirty, crazy life because he feels it makes them just like any other race. Little does he know that all of his white supremacist ideas will eventually get him killed, but we can definitely see it coming all along.

"She won't bring you nothin without I tell her to. I own this place" (16.111).

One racist bartender decides that he's never going to serve anything to the black John Jackson. He makes himself perfectly clear, although he doesn't seem to realize that he's dealing with a bunch of bloodthirsty murderers…or maybe he just assumes everyone is, given the time and place.

"Glanton told him to his face that any man who trusted an Indian was a fool" (19.1)

Glanton hates the idea of peace between whites, Mexicans, and Aboriginal people. It's not quite clear though whether he thinks peace is impossible or whether he doesn't want there to be peace. After all, the guy has made an awful lot of money off the lack of peace, so the idea of peaceful coexistence and racial harmony probably doesn't interest him too much.

"They dismounted and walked methodically among the fallen dispatching them man and horse alike each with a pistolball through the brain" (19.4).

Glanton and his men have no mercy when it comes to killing Aboriginal people. They even kill the Aboriginal horses as though they've been symbolically ruined by their association with the Aboriginals. Talk about overkill...literally.

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