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

Caren J. Town

Committee Member 2

Bradley Edwards


This paper focuses on the contradictory merging of the differentiating forces that drive the natural world and the people in McCarthy’s Border Trilogy, with the most prominent being Billy’s persistent naïve view of the world as he grows from a boy to a man on his journey. The Border Trilogy chronicles the coming of age journey of John Grady Cole and Billy Parham. The second installment, The Crossing, focuses on the various dichotomies that construct the natural world—all of which are mirrored in Billy’s relationships with the mystical she-wolf, his brother, Boyd, the various people that he meets on his journey, and the land itself. I highlight how McCarthy creates Billy’s journey by weaving several smaller dichotomies throughout the text that serve as metaphors which, in turn, represent the bigger dichotomy of life and death found within the natural world. Billy’s connection with the natural world creates his “largeness of spirit,” which is recognized by the many who gravitate to Billy during his life. Given McCarthy’s tendency to place his characters in such a dire world, Billy’s persistent naivety in juxtaposition to all his experiences causes his spirit and his journey to serve as a message of hope for the world, humanity, and the precious treasures that can be found beneath all the heartache.