Publication Date

Fall 12-1-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Manuel Broncano

Committee Member

Dr. Manuel Broncano

Committee Member

Dr. Nathaniel Racine

Committee Member

Dr. Jonathan Murphy

Committee Member

Dr. Monica Muñoz


This thesis provides a practical and meaningful reading of Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West, one that is rooted in the claim that both Judge Holden and the Kid reflect two different methods for negotiating a tension impinged upon them by their external circumstances. Using a theoretical framework that is inspired by the social psychological Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, this thesis provides an extensive analysis of the novel’s fictional universe, Judge Holden, and the Kid. Such an analysis elucidates the violent nature of Blood Meridian’s universe and further reveals the character of Judge Holden and the kid by means of their actions and behaviors. As demonstrated by both the scope of the judge’s intellectual thought, and his response to the dissentient kid, the judge reflects a method of negotiation that relies on affirming himself as the ultimate agent over existence in order to dismiss his tension. Conversely, the kid reflects a method that entails engaging tension directly, as he takes personal responsibility for reconciling the conflicting ideas of his tension by means of his own actions. Through such an analysis, several important implications for the novel arise, and even a new, ambiguous reading of the novel’s conclusion is made available for the reader to ponder.