Study Guide

Blood Meridian Sex

By Cormac McCarthy


"The black stood stripped to the waist behind the tent and as the juggler turned with a sweep of his arm the girl gave him a shove and he leaped from the tent and strode about with strange posturings under the lapsing flare of the torches" (7.185).

John Jackson has been having sex with the daughter of a juggler behind the juggler's back. Though it's not like the juggler could do anything about it even if he knew. He's more or less at the mercy of Glanton and his men.

"Standing just within the door of a foul saloon with his eyes shifting under the brim of the hat he wore and the light from a wallsconce on the side of his face he was taken for a male whore and set up to drinks and then shown the rear of the premises" (22.64).

The kid has no way of making money once Glanton's gang is killed, so he wanders the deserts and often gets mistaken for a male prostitute. It's not really clear whether he takes any men up on their offers to pay him for sex.

"Garishly clad whores were going out through a door at the rear of the premises" (23.132).

In the Wild West, the police weren't too keen on enforcing the laws against prostitution. In fact, most of the time there were no police at all. So yeah, stuff like sex for money was pretty darn common.

"I seen you right away, she said. I always pick the one I want" (23.193).

Throughout the book, the kid can seem like a passive guy. And that goes for sex, too. In this case, a prostitute walks up to him and more or less tells him they're going to have sex. Well, that was easy.

"He was naked and he rose up smiling and gathered [the kid] in his arms against his immense and terrible flesh and shot the wooden barlatch home behind him" (23.206).

This is the last time we ever see the kid in this book. It's hard to tell whether there is anything sexual about the judge embracing him and pulling him into the outhouse. The judge might have sex with him, might kill him, or both. It's impossible to know.

"She led him through a door where an old Mexican was handing out towels and candles and they ascended like refugees of some sordid disaster the darkened plankboard stairwell to the upper rooms" (23.194).

A small prostitute grabs the kid and takes him up to a room above a tavern for sex. Being his usual confused and passive self, the kid decides to follow. At this point, he's like a leaf going in whatever direction he's blown by the wind. This time it just happens to be right into a prostitute's bed.

"Lying in the cubicle with his trousers about his knees he watched her" (23.195).

The kid doesn't even get a room for his sex with a prostitute. It's just a little cubicle, which goes to show how gross and non-private sex in the Old West could be. Then again, what wasn't horrible about the Old West, at least according to this book?

"He watched her take up her clothes and don them and he watched her hold the candle to the mirror and study her face there" (23.195).

Who knows what this prostitute is thinking when she gets up and looks at herself in a mirror after sex. Maybe she's thinking, "We sure don't get many female characters in this book." We'll never know because McCarthy never tells us.

"Let's go, she said. I got to go" (23.196).

Now that the sex with the kid has finished, the prostitute doesn't have any time for chit chat. She needs to get back downstairs to find her next john (customer). The kid might want a moment to connect with her, but the world of this book is no place for the sentimental type.

"He sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the little iron cot and stood and pulled his trousers up and buttoned them and buckled his belt" (23.199).

Just like that, the kid's sex is over and he must return to his sad, lonely life. Come to think of it, this is the first time we've ever seen him have sex in the book. It's possible that up until this moment, he's been a virgin.

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