Study Help Essay Questions


1. Compare one of the camping scenes with Rawlins and John Grady with a camping scene from Hemingway (for example, The Sun Also Rises or one of the Nick Adams stories).

2. Compare and contrast the breaking of the horses in Chapter II with Faulkner's "Spotted Horses."

3. What is the significance of the picture of the horses in the Grady formal dining room, the horses his grandfather called "picturebook"?

4. What is the significance of the antiques in the Grady ranch house? Compare and contrast these antiques to the ones at La Purisima.

5. What is the significance of John Grady's mother pursuing an acting career? Why does she never have a name?

6. When John Grady says goodbye to his girlfriend, Mary Catherine, in Texas, he feels he has "stepped out of the glass forever." When Alejandra tells him she cannot go with him, his life feels that it will lead nowhere at all. Compare and contrast the two scenes. Is John Grady a romantic who always feels his life is over after a romance has ended? Is this just a youthful reaction? Would Rawlins feel this way in a similar situation?

7. What does this novel teach the reader about horses?

8. What is the significance of the chess-playing scene between Alejandra's great-aunt and John Grady?

9. How would you characterize Blevins? Why do John Grady and Rawlins disagree about Blevins and what to do with him?

10. What is the significance of the scene early in the novel when they take down a fence, lead their horses over it, and then carefully put it back in place?

11. When the wax traders try to buy Blevins, why is John Grady so appalled? How does this highlight his American sense of justice and equality that gets him into so much trouble with the great-aunt and other Mexican authorities?

12. What are the differences between American and Mexican values? Illustrate with specific scenes from the novel.

13. In addition to the horses, what are the elements of commonality between John Grady and his Mexican friends?

14. What is the most horrific event in the novel?

15. Why does John Grady become a wanderer and outcast?

16. Why does Rawlins go back to his family?

17. Why did Blevins pick the Jimmy Blevins name, after a radio preacher?

18. Write about the influence of a great author (Faulkner, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Camus, Twain, or London, for example) on McCarthy's book.

19. What are the various meanings of the journey as a theme in the novel?

20. What role do the good Samaritans John Grady meets along his journey play in the novel?

21. What, if any, religious significance is present in the last scene of the book?