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American Southern Gothic Literature Child of God LECTURE DB due 5/6 We end the Semester with Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, a work published in XXXXXXXXXXIt is generally accepted that Southern...

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American Southern Gothic Literature    Child of God LECTURE        DB due 5/6
We end the Semester with Child of God by Cormac McCarthy, a work published in XXXXXXXXXXIt is generally accepted that Southern Gothic literature is a genre that covers a finite period of time, i.e., roughly 1920s to XXXXXXXXXXHowever, even though McCarthy’s work enters the mix 13 years after the official end of this genre’s literary period I think you will agree that it definitely belongs.
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy is a short read – less than 200 pages total. I was so impressed by McCarthy’s stark, spare prose (the exact opposite of Faulkner’s writing style) that I read it through twice in one sitting. It is an astonishingly dark story told through a few na
ative voices (this device reminiscent of Faulkner).
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy rests shakily somewhere between gothic and ho
or but it is ultimately worthy of our genre because of McCarthy’s deft handling of Lester Ballard whose mental, physical and spiritual “station” in life makes him the so
iest character we have ever laid eyes on in literature.
We began the Semester with a damsel in distress, compromised within the gloomy setting of the cellars of a castle in Horace Walpole’s 18th century European gothic tale, Castle of Otranto. We end the Semester with the most perverted example of a damsel in distress imaginable, set against the backdrop of a series of caves that could represent a castle’s cellars.
The author Cormac McCarthy has received top literary awards including the Pulitzer Prize and the MacArthur “genius” award. In addition, many of his books have been successfully adapted to film including The Road, No Country for Old Men, The Counselor and The Sunset Limited (the latter with Samuel L. Jackson).  Although not born in the South McCarthy was raised in the south (Tennessee) and as an adult returned there to live. In addition like Flannery O’Connor he was a Roman Catholic amongst Southern Protestants – affording him that same type of authorial “outsider status” maintained by O’Connor.
When I first introduced this book a few years ago I took a vote from my students to determine if Child of God was just too weird for them but the majority insisted that I keep it in the syllabus as a true example of contemporary Southern Gothic. I apologize if anyone is offended since unlike our other works this one could never be taught in high school.
DB due 5/6: In the beginning of the course you read Walpole and Poe with an assignment for close reading to allow comparison between the two stories. Now you must apply that same close reading process to Child of God’s first 20 pages below. (Full novel is in Our Online Li
ary.) Read text below and select a sentence or phrase to analyze, i.e., what’s actually happening or being said in your own words. Look up unfamiliar vocabulary if you have to but DO NOT USE THE INTERENT FOR RESEARCH ON THE NOVEL. Use your own
ain for analysis. No duplicate sentence picks allowed so post the first few words of your sentence as the subject thread in the relevant DB. Comment on a classmate’s sentence post. Assignment due 5/6.
Cormac McCarthy - Child of God – First 20 pages
THEY CAME LIKE A CARAVAN of carnival folk up through the swales of
oom straw and across the hill in the morning sun, the truck rocking and pitching in the ruts and the musicians on chairs in the truck bed teetering and tuning their instruments, the fat man with guitar grinning and gesturing to others in a car behind and bending to give a note to the fiddler who turned a fiddle peg and listened with a wrinkled face. They passed under flowering apple trees and passed a log crib chinked with orange mud and forded a
anch and came in sight of an aged clapboard house that stood in blue shade under the wall of the mountain. Beyond it stood a barn. One of the men in the truck bonged on the cab roof with his fist and the truck came to a halt. Cars and trucks came on through the weeds in the yard, people afoot.
To watch these things issuing from the otherwise mute pastoral morning is a man at the barn door. He is small, unclean, unshaven. He moves in the dry chaff among the dust and slats of sunlight with a constrained truculence. Saxon Celtic and bloods. A child of God much like yourself perhaps. Wasps pass through the laddered light from the barn slats in a succession of strobic moments, gold and trembling between black and black, like fireflies in the se
ied upper gloom. The man stands straddle legged, has made in the dark humus a darker pool wherein swirls a pale foam with bits of straw. Buttoning his jeans he moves along the barn wall, himself fiddle backed with light, a petty annoyance flickering across the wallward eye
Standing in the forebay door he blinks. Behind him there is a rope hanging from the loft. His thinly
istled jaw knots and slacks as if he were chewing but he is not chewing. His eyes are almost shut against the sun and through the thin and blue veined lids you can see the eyeballs moving, watching. A man in a blue suit gesturing from the truck bed. A lemonade stand going up. The musicians striking up a country reel and the yard filling up with people and the loudspeaker making a few first squawks.
All right now let's get eve
ody up here and get registered for ye free silver dollars. Right up here. That's the way. How you little lady? Well all right. Yessir. All right now. Jessie? Have you got it ... ? All right now. Jess and them is got the house open for them that wants to see inside. That's all right. We're fixin to have some music here in just a minute and we want to get eve
ody registered fore we have the drawins. Yessir? What's that? Yessir, that's right. That's right eve
ody, we will bid on the tracts and then we'll have a chance to bid on the whole. They's both sides of the road now, it goes plumb across the creek to them big timbers on the other side yonder. Yessir. We'll get into that directly.
Bowing, pointing, smiling. The microphone in one hand. Among the pines on the ridge the sound of the auctioneer's voice echoed muted, redundant. An illusion of multiple voices, a ghost chorus among old ruins.
Now they's good timber up here too. Real good timber. It's been cut over fifteen twenty year ago and so maybe it ain't big timber yet, but looky here. While you're alaying down there in your bed at night this timber is up here growin. Yessir. And Imean that sincerely. They is real future in this property. As much future as you'll find anywheres in this valley. Maybe more. Friends, they is no limit to the possibilities on a piece of property like this. I'd buy it myself if I had any more money. And I believe you all know that ever penny I own is in real estate. And ever one I've made has been from real estate. If I had a million dollars I would have it ever cent invested in real estate within ninety days. And you all know that. They ain't no way for it to go but up. A piece of land like this here I sincere believe will give ye ten percent on your investment. And maybe more. Maybe as high as twenty percent. Your money down here in this bank won't do that for ye and you all know that. There is no sounder investment than property. Land. You all know that a dollar won't buy what it used to buy. A dollar might not be worth but fifty cents a year from now. And you all know that. But real estate is goin up, up, up.
Friends, six year ago when my uncle bought the Prater place down here eve
ody tried to talk him out of it. He give nineteen-five for that farm. Said I know what I'm adoin. And you all know what happent down there. Yessir. Sold for thirty-eight thousand. A piece of land like this ... Now it needs some improvin. It's rough. Yes it is. But friends you can double your money on it. A piece of real estate, and particular in this valley, is the soundest investment you can make. Sound as a dollar. And I'm very sincere when I say that.
In the pines the voices chanted a lost litany. Then they stopped. A murmur went through the crowd
The auctioneer had handed over the microphone to another man. The other man said: Holler at the sheriff yonder, C B.
The auctioneer waved his hand at him and bent to the man standing in front of him. Small man, ill shaven, now holding a rifle.
What do you want, Lester?
I done told ye. I want you to get your goddamn ass off my property. And take these fools with ye.
Watch your mouth, Lester. They's ladies present.
I don't give a fuck who's present.
It ain't your property.
The hell it ain't.
    You done been locked up once over this. I guess you want to go again. The high sheriff is standin right over yonder.
I don't give a good goddamn where the high sheriff is at. I want you sons of bitches off of my goddamned property. You hear?
The auctioneer was squatting on the tailboard of the truck. He looked down at his shoes, plucked idly at a piece of dried mud in the welt. When he looked back up at the man with the rifle he was smiling. He said: Lester, you don't get a grip on yourself they goin to put you in a ru
er room.
The man took a step backward, the rifle in one hand. He was almost crouching and he held his free hand out with the fingers spread toward the crowd as if to hold them back. Get down off that truck, he hissed.
    The man on the truck spat and squinted at him. What you aim to do, Lester, shoot me? I didn't take your place off of ye. County done that. I was just hired as auctioneer.
Get off that truck.
Behind him the musicians looked like compositions in porcelain from an old county fair
Answered Same Day Apr 30, 2020


Ritika answered on May 01 2020
138 Votes
This quote “Whatever voice spoke him was no demon but some old shed self that came yet from time to time in the name of sanity. A hand to gentle him back from the rim of his disastrous wrath.” By this quote Lester has been mentioned here in the story of Child of God by Cormac McCarthy. It is Lester Ballard who is being discussed and spoken about here in this story. Even though he was lonely and lasted to stay...

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