Term of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Olivia Carr Edenfield

Committee Member 1

Bradley Edwards

Committee Member 2

Dustin Anderson


In Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing, one of the most important aspects of blood is the way it connects Billy Parham to his family and the world around him. Billy's actions are driven largely by his desire to maintain his moral code and his connections to nature and his maternal grandmother. His link to nature begins with an encounter with a wolf pack and continues with an attempt to return a she-wolf to her homeland. The connection to his grandmother provides him with the means to do so when he crosses the border from New Mexico into Mexico. Billy's ability to speak Spanish is a result of his relationship with his grandmother, and it allows him to make three individual journeys into Mexico. In addition to language, Billy also understands enough of the culture to be able to interact with many of the people he meets, and he hears many stories that he would not know if he did not speak Spanish. Part of Billy's reason for going into Mexico is an effort to keep true to his promises, and the final two trips into Mexico are the result of trying to regain some element of his family, whether through his search for the family horses or the quest to retrieve his brother's body. Despite repeated failures, he remains faithful to his code, much in the same way that Plato tells the myth of Er, in which the only option once actions have been made is to stay true to oneself.