Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West Metaphors and Similes

Captain White's Men (Simile)

McCarthy frequently employs similes to describe Captain White's men as they ride through the desert. The terms he uses generally invoke a sense of foreboding and often allude to death or doom. For example, he writes, "they rode with their heads down, faceless under their hats, like an army asleep on the march" (45). Later, after traveling for many miles without rain, McCarthy describes White's men as " a ghost army, so pale they were with dust, like shades of figures erased upon a board" (46). 


Carrion Birds (Simile)

"The carrion birds sat about the topmost corners of the houses with their wings outstretched in attitudes of exhortation like dark little bishops" (59). Here, McCarthy specifically refers to these birds' habit of eating carrion (the decaying flesh of dying animals). In this way, he underlines the fact that bloodthirsty habits exist in all layers of the natural world, not just in human civilization. Furthermore, by comparing these birds to bishops, he emphasizes how violence begets power. 

The Deadcart (Simile)

The veteran describes his experiences in during the 1842 Mier expedition, which was an unsuccessful - albeit extremely bloody - military operation by Texan militia against Mexican border settlements. He recalls "...the deadcart moving among them like a hearse from limbo" (76). By comparing the deadcart, which was used for transporting piles of corpses during the Bubonic Plague, to a hearse, McCarthy offers a level of ceremony to the hundreds of nameless Mexicans that died during the aforementioned attack. Meanwhile, "limbo" is the biblical term for the edge of hell, which is what the American expansion is inflicting on the Mexican way of life. 

Horses Walking (Metaphor)

McCarthy writes, "the moon was about three quarters full and waxing and we were like circus riders, not a sound, the horses on eggshells" (129). Here, the horses are not literally walking on eggshells; this is a commonly used metaphor that means to be proceeding cautiously because of some impending danger. This is another example of McCarthy infusing his prose with a sense of foreboding. 

Angel Trias (Similie)

After Glanton and his men have received their payment from Angel Trias, the Governor of Chihuahua, they engage in debauchery night after night. Even though the "citizenry [of Chihuahua] made address to the governor," Trias was "much like the sorcerer's apprentice who could indeed provoke the imp to do his will but could in no way make him cease again" (171). This simile indicts Trias in the hooliganism that Glanton's men unleash on Chihuahua; Trias is the one who hired them to cut scalps but now, he cannot stop the dangerous side effects of their subsequent moral decline.