Child of God

The Mascot- Lester Ballard as the Southern Other

Tennessee Williams once said “If people behaved in the way nations do, they would all be put in straightjackets.” Nowhere can this be more clearly seen than in the case of Lester Ballard from Cormac McCarthy’s Child of God. Lester Ballard, through his dispossession, violence, and sexual deviance, is an allegory for Southern culture, an exaggerated mascot for the Southern “other.” The violence with which Ballard conducts his “sex life” mirrors the “Peculiar Institution” of slavery. His desire for sexual contact, despite his aversion to personal interaction with living beings may be seen as an attempt to carry on his bloodline, an act that is representative of a very important part of Southern heritage. Most importantly, however, Lester Ballard represents Southern “otherness” through the countless examples of his dispossession from and misunderstanding by the society in which he has been placed.

Lester Ballard is, simply put, a necrophiliac and a mass-murder. However, for Cormac McCarthy, these traits are not something to be despised or feared in this character because they are not really personal traits. The fact that Ballard combines his murderous impulses with his sexual urges may be viewed as a representation of the practices...

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