Study Guide

Blood Meridian Chapter 16

By Cormac McCarthy

Chapter 16

  • Glanton and his men ride into an old church and find an old man inside dying. One of Glanton's men has shot him. Apparently, there was another old man inside the same church, but someone saw him run away. They eventually chase down the other guy and learn that he is the brother of the other dude they just shot and killed. They've been hermits living in this old church for so long their minds are gone.
  • The men leave the other crazy old brother alive and ride on. They camp in the desert. They eventually come across some scouts they'd sent ahead to look for trouble. Well it looks like the scouts found plenty of trouble, because they're hanging dead in a bunch of trees. There must be Apaches around…
  • Eventually Glanton and his crew come across the Apaches. They can see the Apaches holding stuff that used to belong to their dead scouts, so they put two and two together…
  • Glanton rides up to the Apache leader and his horse bites the Apache's horse on the ear. As you can imagine, a fight breaks out.
  • Somehow, the judge manages to calm things down and to reason with the Apaches by speaking in Spanish.
  • Another eight Apaches show up on the scene. The leader of the group is among them and he demands to know what's going on. Again, the judge uses his Spanish to reason with the guy and to avoid a fight that Glanton's crew probably won't win.
  • The Apache leader wants whiskey as a payment for Glanton's horse biting the ear of his man's horse. But the Americans have no whiskey, so they ride into a town that the Apaches recently ransacked to look for some whiskey to drink together.
  • While the men drink, Glanton and the judge go looking for new recruits for their crew. They come upon a travelling showman who's looking to go to California and they say he can come with them if he can pay up. The guy travels with his brother, who he shows to people as a freak called "The Wildman." His brother clearly has mental problems that the man is more than happy to exploit for money by putting his brother in a cage and treating him like an animal. After some haggling, the showman agrees on a price with Glanton and gets ready to leave the town.
  • Meanwhile, the men in the nearby bar have some trouble with the bartender, who isn't willing to serve John Jackson because he's black. So Jackson shoots the bartender on the spot and kill him.
  • Later on, an officer shows up and demands to know which of Glanton's men shot the local through the head. Through some clever legal language, the judge tells the guy that neither he nor anyone in Glanton's group ever went inside the tavern where the man was shot. This is a boldfaced lie and everyone knows it. But the officer doesn't know what to do.
  • The officer comes back that evening and sits for a long chat with the judge. The judge dazzles him with all kinds of impressive legal-speak.
  • In the morning, people learn that a young Mexican girl has been abducted. Instead of looking for the girl, Glanton's men gamble over whether the judge can lift heavy objects of his head and throw them.