Study Guide

Blood Meridian Chapter 19

By Cormac McCarthy

Chapter 19

  • Glanton chats with the doctor who owns the ferry on the Colorado River and tells him he'll need protection from the nearby Yumas. He says this knowing that the Yumas are coming to attack (since Glanton planned it all). But the doctor says he gets along fine with the Yumas.
  • The doctor owns a howitzer (a.k.a. a huge gun that they fill with pellets) and the men want to try it out. So they do, and everyone is impressed with the power of the thing.
  • Two days alter, the Yumas attack the ferry crossing, just like Glanton has planned. But when they attack, Glanton fires on them with the Howitzer and blows half of them away. Then Glanton's men ride out of the trees and kill the rest of them. It's a total betrayal.
  • Some of the Yumas get away and Glanton's bunch don't chase them.
  • After this incident, Glanton officially takes control of the ferry and charges people everything they have to get across the river.
  • Later on some people build a ferry farther downriver and they're chased off by some Yumas who start operating the rival ferry themselves. It takes not time for Glanton to attack them and burn their ferry.
  • By this time, Glanton has captured some local Sonorans and turned them into slaves. You really have to wonder when this guy is going to get what's coming to him.
  • Some men leave the camp one day to get supplies. Among them is David Brown, who gets drunk and wakes up the next day in some sort of shack. He hears that his two buddies have been thrown in jail and demands their release. But some soldiers warn him away, so he heads to a local craftsman and asks him to saw off the barrels of his shotgun (which will allow him to spray the shotgun pellets over a larger area, killing more people). The dude won't saw off the shotgun barrels though because the gun is too nice to be ruined this way.
  • Brown chases the guy away and starts sawing off the barrels himself. Soon after, a soldier shows up with the craftsman, asking if Brown threatened the guy. Brown denies it and won't say where he got his gun. He finishes sawing off his barrels and heads outside, but the craftsman accusing him of threats has disappeared. So that's that.
  • Brown runs into his two buddies, who've been released from jail. They're on the coast at this point, so they take a moment to stare at the ocean. They get drunk and run into some soldiers and get into a fight. Brown pours liquor over a soldier and sets him on fire, burning him to death.
  • Brown wakes up alter in a prison cell. He eventually bribes a young soldier to help him escape and murders the soldier as soon as he's out of town.
  • When the other two of Glanton's men get back to the river, they take a group of men to free Brown from jail. But they don't realize that Brown has already escaped on his own, so they end up beating some guards for no reason.
  • Glanton returns to the ferry crossing alone, since his men have gone off to check out some California gold fields.
  • That night, John Jackson goes down to the river to go to the bathroom and he gets shot with an arrow and killed with a club. It looks like the Yumas have had enough of Glanton and are ready for some revenge.
  • After killing nearly everyone else, the Yumas enter Glanton's cabin and one of them kills Glanton with an axe. There, finally the dude has died. He goes down swearing and hating the world, as you'd expect.
  • Next, the Yumas enter the judge's place. But the judge is waiting for them, holding the giant howitzer under one arm and threatening to set it off with his cigar. This gun would wipe out everyone in the room, so the Yumas back off and the judge escapes.
  • The Yumas build a huge fire and burn Glanton's body in it, along with his dog.