Manifest Destiny and American Identity in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Vali-e-Asr University, Rafsanjan, Iran

2 English Department, Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran

3 North American Studies, Faculty of World Studies, Tehran University, Tehran, Iran


McCarthy scholarship has predominantly tended to stress the writer’s revisionism with regard to his rendering of the myth of the American West in Blood Meridian (1985). McCarthy’s novel has beenmainlyhailed as a critique of the violence of manifest destiny. This study aims to delineate aspects of McCarthy’s narrative which resist the predominant view of him as a revisionist. In this regard, it addresses the writer’s representation of manifest destiny and American identity in this narrative. It is argued that McCarthy’s narrative essentially problematizes historiographic representation of the myth of the West not only by denying a valid access to history, but also by calling into doubt the truth claims of such a representation. Furthermore, the writer’s visions of violence and evil as universal entities undermine the predominant view of him as a revisionist. Finally, a critical reading of McCarthy’s rendering of American identity vis-à-vis Native American identity underscores the marginalization and denigration of Native Americans in the text.


Ahmed, A. (2010). Journey into America: The challenge of Islam. Washington, WA: Brookings Institution Press.
Bloom H. (2009). Introduction. In H. Bloom (Ed.), Bloom’s modern critical views: Cormac McCarthy (pp. 1-8). New York: Bloom’s Literary Criticism.
Cherry, C. (Ed.). (1998). God’s New Israel: Religious interpretations of American destiny. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Evans, D. H. (2013). True West and lying marks: The Englishman’s boy, blood meridian, and the paradox of the revisionist Western. Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 55(4), 406-433.
Gleason, P. (1981). Americans all: World war II and the shaping of American identity. The Review of Politics, 43(4), 483-518.
Gray, R. (2011). A brief history of American literature. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Hage, E. (2010). Cormac McCarthy: A literary companion. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers.
Hawkins, T. (2017).  Cormac McCarthy’s philosophy. Chapel Hill, NC: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hine, R. V., & Faragher, J. M. (2007). Frontiers: A short history of the American West. New York: Yale University Press.
Kollin, S. (2001). Genre and the geographies of violence: Cormac McCarthy and the contemporary Western. Contemporary Literature, 42(3), 557-588.
Malhotra, R.  (2009). American exceptionalism and the myth of the frontiers. In R. K. Kanth (Ed.), The challenge Eurocentrism: Global perspectives, policy, and prospects (pp.171-216), New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Mayne, N. (2001). As far as the eye could see, Cormac McCarthy, myth and masculine visions in the New American West. Australasian Journal of American Studies, 20(2), 1-12.
McMillan, J.  B. (1946). Historical notes on American words.  American Speech, 21(3), 175-184.
McCarthy, C. (1985). Blood meridian or the evening redness in the West. New York: Ecco Press.
McVeigh, S. (2007). The American Western. Edinburgh, Scotland: Edinburgh University Press.
Moos, D. (2002). Lacking the article itself: Representation and history in Cormac McCarthy’s blood meridian. The Cormac McCarthy Journal, 2(1), 23-39.
Ridge, M.  (1991). The life of an idea: The significance of Frederick Jackson Turner’s frontier thesis. Montana: The Magazine of Western History, 41(1), 2-13.
Sepich, J. (2008). Notes on blood meridian. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.
Spurgeon, S. L. (2005). Exploding the Western: Myths of empire on the postmodern frontier. College Station, TX: Texas A&M UP.
Stratton, B. J. (2011). “el brujo es un coyote”: Taxonomies of trauma in Cormac McCarthy’s blood meridian. Arizona Quarterly, 67(3), 151-172.
Turner, F. J.  (1996). The frontier in American history. New York: Dover Publications.
Weinberg, A. K. (1963).  Manifest destiny: A study of nationalist expansion in American history. Chicago, IL: AMS Press.
Winthrop, J. (1985). A model of Christian charity. In A. Heimert & A. Delanco (Eds.), The puritans in America: A narrative anthology (pp. 81- 92). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.