The main character, John Grady Cole, faces plenty of hardships throughout his journey from his home in Texas to Mexico. On the other hand, McCarthy writes this award-winning book in a positive way, demonstrating the balance between optimism and pessimism in our world. He shows how John Grady Cole has matured and grown substantially because of this negativity he faces. The reader can clearly see the negativity not only in the first page of the novel, but also in the first paragraph.
McCarthy begins the book with, “… he looked at the face so caved and drawn among the folds of funeral cloth, the yellowed moustache, the eyelids paper thin. That was not sleeping…” (3). The funeral described in the first page is John Grady’s grandpa’s funeral. Starting a book off in this way (with a dead body) obviously points the reader towards the opinion that this book is a long, dreadful ride with much death and destruction. The image of the coffin, the yellowing moustache, and the deceased person clearly shows the negativity that fills this book.
Throughout the book, John Grady Cole faces many challenges and much adversity and learns to live with it. After leaving their home in Texas, John Grady and his best friend Rawlins travel hundreds of miles deep into the heart of Mexico on horseback until they reach a ranch offering work called La Purisima. Both of these boys are skilled at working with horses and spend most of their time at the ranch taming and taking care of the many horses there. While working at La Purisima, John meets the ranch owner’s daughter, a beautiful girl named Alejandra, and falls in love.
Alejandra’s father absolutely does not appreciate this; in fact, he orders for John Grady and Rawlins to be arrested because of John’s interactions with Alejandra. The hardships that these boys face are relentless, however, John Grady refuses to hang his head and give up. On their way to the jail, John Grady says to Rawlins, “I can’t back up and start over. But I don’t see the point in slobberin over it” (155). At this point, McCarthy reveals how John Grady has matured and has learned to live with the sorrows he faces.
With this new found maturity, and as John Grady Cole overcomes this terrible journey of negativity, he has learned to live with the pessimism and has found out how the negatives go side by side with the positives. Nearing the end of the book John Grady Cole realizes that “the world’s pain and its beauty moved in a relationship of diverging equity” (282). John Grady has learned the skill of searching for the light in a dark room, constantly refusing to dwell on the negative aspects of his many horrible situations.
He has a new wisdom of the world and has learned how it works. In conclusion, McCarthy writes All The Pretty Horses with much negativity and at the same time he delivers a lesson of how positivity is hidden in every situation, journey, and life. McCarthy demonstrates how John Grady Cole learns maturity the hard way: through hardships, sorrow and death. This book leaves the reader with a tear in their eye and a smile on their face, for they know that sorrow is sitting on the doorstep of happiness.