Publication Date

Fall 8-8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Manuel Broncano

Committee Member

Dr. Abigail Meert

Committee Member

Dr. Nathaniel Racine

Committee Member

Dr. Jonathan W. Murphy

Committee Member

Dr. Robert Haynes



Faulknerian Echoes and the Grotesque in McCarthy’s The Orchard Keeper (August 2020)

William Leland Haynes, B. A., Texas A&M International University

Chair of Committee: Dr. Manuel Broncano

This thesis is an exploration of Cormac McCarthy and William Faulkner’s craft through a focus on their works The Orchard Keeper and “Barn Burning.” This analysis charts the two dialoguing or conversing with each other across times through the art of their writings.

The basis of this project examines a key phrase from “Barn Burning,” where the problem of doing the right thing creates a conflict of identity within the story’s young protagonist, Sarty Snopes. The Snopeses are family to Sarty, and through Faulkner’s stream of consciousness technique, we see how he internally feels “the old fierce pull of blood.” Coincidentally, in The Orchard Keeper, there is a moment where the elderly “Uncle Ather” feels “the old fierce pull of blood” as he realizes in horror the occurrence of an irrevocable act outside of his control, for he has steadfastly and patiently attended the wasted remains of Kenneth Rattner for seven years, serving as the orchard keeper whose title brings out the theme of responsibility and of the gardens dear to Scripture and mythology. How can “blood” seem to mean the same thing in Sarty’s desperate situation and in such a moment of equivocal release for Uncle Ather? This poses an intriguing paradox, but clearly Cormac McCarthy found it essential to his artistic vision. This old fierce pull of blood is part of the two writers’ dialogic symphony, which seeks to examine the journey of finding one’s identity in a world where family and duty are at war with an innocent’s sense of right and wrong.

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