Study Guide

Blood Meridian Chapter 7

By Cormac McCarthy

Chapter 7

  • In Glanton's militia, there are two guys named John Jackson, one white and one black. And guess what? They don't get along one bit.
  • The group stops one day to buy some pistols from a guy named Speyer. The pistols are so heavy-duty that they weigh a few pounds each and can shoot a bullet through six inches of pure hardwood.
  • Glanton tries one of the guns out and shoots whatever is nearby, including a cat and a goat. After a while, a group of nearby soldiers notices the commotion and comes riding toward the group. Glanton tries to antagonize them, but the judge talks them down and smoothes everything over.
  • By the time everything settles down, Glanton's crew is riding away. Each man has two of the huge pistols.
  • Once the group is in the desert again, we learn that the kid, Toadvine, and the veteran have been recruited to replace three other men who were killed in Glanton's last battle.
  • Toadvine makes friends with another fugitive named Bathcat—which by the way is the most awesome name ever—and they make bets about which John Jackson (the black one or white one) will end up killing the other.
  • Bathcat tells stories about how the Aboriginals used to get along well with the white settlers in the early days, before the two groups started killing each other at random.
  • One day, the group is approached by a family of travelling musicians who are willing to pay money to be escorted safely across the desert.
  • Glanton eventually gets bored one night and asks the magician to do some fortune telling. The dude takes out a deck of tarot cards. He starts saying stuff about the different riders, and the black John Jackson wants to know what he's saying, since all of it's in Spanish. Heck, it'd be nice if we knew what he was saying, too. But McCarthy never translates any of it. Oh well, that's what Google Translate's for, isn't it?
  • After saying the kid's fortune, the magician is told by the judge to do Glanton's fortune. Once he starts telling it, though, Glanton orders him to stop. He's not interested by the idea that his fortune is set out for him in advance. He's about to shoot the magician's wife when the judge warps his arms around him and stops him. The magician and his wife are shooed away while the judge holds on.
  • The next day, everything seems fine. The magician rides at the head of the group next to Glanton until they reach a town called Janos. The streets are deserted, and when Glanton stumbles on an old woman, he shoots her in the head and kills her. Then the men cut off her scalp so they can sell it for a bounty, although we're never even told if the woman is Aboriginal.
  • The magician and his family continue to travel with them, and one night, Toadvine and the kid see the black John Jackson stumbling out of the magician's daughter's tent only half-dressed.

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