Study Guide

Toadyvine in Blood Meridian

By Cormac McCarthy


Toadvine is the first main character that the kid runs into (apart from the judge). They get into a fight because neither one will step to the side when they run into each other on the sidewalk. Of course this means they need to fight to the death. Toadvine pulls out his knife and tries to stab the kid to death, but someone else bashes the kid's head in before Toadvine can get a chance. When the kid wakes up, Toadvine half-apologizes by saying:

I never meant to break your neck […] I meant to kill ye. (1.61,1.63)

In other words, Toadvine believes in keeping his word even when he's promising to kill someone.

Toadvine is a rough-looking customer, to say the least. He has the letters H, T, and F burned into his forehead and is missing both of his ears. Charming. As the narrator tells us:

On his forehead were burned the letters H T and lower and almost between the eyes the letter F and these markings were splayed and garish as if the iron had been left too long. (1.75)

He seems especially upset about his ears because he carries a necklace made out of many other people's ears as though it's some kind of revenge jewelry because that's not gross or anything. Ultimately, his markings show us that he has had a long history of violence and that he's no longer afraid of death or pain.

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