Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West Irony

"Savagery" of the Apaches (Verbal Irony)

Captain White asks the kid his thoughts about the "treaty," by which he means The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The kid is not familiar with the agreement that ended the Mexican-American War in 1848 and forced Mexico to cede all of present-day California, Nevada, Utah as well as parts of Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Mexico also relinquished all claims to Texas and agreed to recognize the Rio Grande as the Southern Boundary of the United States.

"We fought for [Monterrey]," White explains, "Lost friends and brothers down there. And then by God if we didn't give it back. Back to a bunch of barbarians that even the most biased in their favor will admit have no least notion in God's earth of honor or justice or the meaning of republican government" (33). This is ironic because Captain White makes his living in a very barbaric way - cutting off human scalps. Furthermore, the U.S.A. invaded Mexico because of Manifest Destiny, which (especially in retrospect) does not exactly embody honor or justice. 



Toadvine meeting Bathcat (Dramatic Irony)

"Only on the inside of his lower arm was there tattooed a number which Toadvine would see in a Chihuahua bathhouse and again when he would cut down the man's torso where it hung skewered by its heel from a tree limb in the wastes of Pimeria Alta in the fall of that year" (87-88). 

Here, McCarthy employs dramatic irony to create suspense. The reader now knows how Bathcat will die, even though the characters in the novel do not. 

Meeting the Gilenos (Verbal Irony)

"...other than a few arms among them they were innocent of the civilized device as the rawest savage of that land" (120). 

Here, McCarthy uses the words "civilized," "innocent," and "savage" in an ironic manner. He describes mechanical weapons as "civilized devices" and Glanton's men as "innocent," even though the reader knows that these lethal tools in the hands of bloodthirsty scalp hunters are generally more deadly than the people they frequently refer to as "savages." 

The Judge as a Midwife (Situational and Verbal Irony)

When "the idiot" runs away from the women who are trying to save him from captivity, the judge happens to be the one who finds him in the river. He "seized up the drowning idiot snatching it aloft by the heels like a great midwife and slapping it on the back to let the water out. A birth scene or baptism or some ritual not yet inaugurated into any canon" (259). 

This is situational irony because the judge is most frequently shown taking lives, not preserving them. He performs violent acts for no reason other than to exercise his brutality, like when he buys a pair of puppies just for the purpose of drowning him. McCarthy also employs verbal irony here in his comparison of the judge to a midwife; a midwife assists in welcoming new life into the world while the judge is more often an agent of death.