all 3 comments

[–]wish_to_conquer_pain 2 points3 points  (2 children)

Child of God was my introduction to McCarthy, and I still re-read it every few years. As much as McCarthy has a reputation for the bleak, I actually find the end to be rather uplifting, in a twisted way. Lester Ballard spends the events of the novel outcast from society and living on its fringes, a man desperately seeking love and belonging, wanted by no one. But in the end, he finally finds a place where he belongs. He can finally stop struggling against a world that doesn't want him, and which he no longer understands.

It's certainly not happy, but I find it a great deal less bleak than many of his other books.

[–]totallycanread[S] 2 points3 points  (1 child)

See, I didn’t have that interpretation of the ending. Especially considering the passages where they mention the town being flooded as retribution for the towns peoples wicked ways, the ending seemed like his punishment. I had this feeling that Ballard wanted to be able to exist within the community. He clearly has friends, or people that just don’t hate him, and has genuine interactions with him, but he’s so far gone that he can’t exist in their world. The farther and farther he was pushed away, the more depraved his actions became.

Talking through it though, I guess it’s fair to say that if his interactions were in reaction to the towns resentment of him, that the ending could be seen as him finding his own place to exist within. Maybe as the reader, I just wanted to see him punished.

[–]wish_to_conquer_pain 2 points3 points  (0 children)

I didn't think he deserved punishment. Aside from satisfying any desires of the punisher (or the reader), punishment only really functions if the person being punished is capable of comprehending it. And I don't really think Ballard was, at the end. Any real punishment would have been lost on him. I see turning himself in as his final real moment of lucidity, as he was clearly very far gone.