While McCarthy studies have emphasized elements of the sacred in his writing, this thesis adds a new historical perspective and synthesis to reading paradigms of Cormac McCarthy. The Crossing combines the patterns of the ancient pre-Hebraic genre of the desert sublime with the basic formula of the American Western genre to interrogate McCarthy's question of whether in the postmodern moment one can still divest oneself in the desert and find access to the sublime. In an era of an invisible or absent God where post-humanist thought erases the anthropocentric supremacy of human over animal and the earth itself, the one constant in the desert sublime genre is the physical reality of the desert itself. Thus, McCarthy's recourse is to infuse the desert sublime with contemporary ecological thought. In the desert Billy Parham encounters other desert dwellers who share with him shards and traces of belief while Billy also learns bodily from the material experience of his physical sojourn. Billy is a nascent postmodern saint whose journeys into the desert reveal to him the ecotheological principle of the interconnectedness of all things as a natural physical law that undergirds the spiritual truth guiding ethical behavior. Billy arrives at a point of radical transformation that teaches him the necessity of choosing compassion, affiliation, simple service, and humility in a world of interconnected beings and living forms.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Riding, Michael J., "Revisiting the Desert Sublime: Billy's Ecotheological Journey in Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing" (2009). Theses and Dissertations. 2318.
Cormac McCarthy, Edith Wyschogrod, David Jasper, crossing, desert sublime, ecotheology, ecology, interconnectedness, compassion, ecocriticism, western