Whenever I get bored I know I can stir up shit by making a bold statement. It creates interaction on social media and tends to be harmless. Unless you say something along the lines of this.

THE ROAD is a zombie apocalypse survival horror movie and the novel by Cormac McCarthy shares this affiliation.

This starts up a shit storm each and every time. Without hesitation the naysayers come out of the gate and tell me how wrong I am without fully understanding what I am saying. Which is fine. They can do that. Nothing they will say will change my mind when it comes to this. And they can rot in their box of overused tropes. It comes down to one thing and one thing only. Metaphor. 

Defined as. 

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.


A thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else especially something abstract.

What people forget is zombies and all monsters in fiction are a metaphor. They are symbolic of something else. It does not matter what that something is. THE ROAD is a realistic depiction of the end of the world. We all know zombies do not exist. However in THE ROAD the nature of man becomes akin to that of the zombie. Mindless. Destructive. Cannibalistic. Zombie horror is typically survivor horror. And THE ROAD is a survivor horror work of art.

The horror of THE ROAD is not the first time McCarthy has delved into the fears men hold in their subconscious. No Country For Old Men was a modern western mashed up with Silence of the Lambs. And BLOOD MERIDIAN a book considered by some to be the greatest of our era.

Art By Jarrod Owen

BLOOD MERIDIAN is an anti-Western and metaphorical horror story about the demons within all men and the devil they grow to be. It tells the tale of “The Kid” and his violent adventures across the southwestern USA as part of a gang of scalp hunters. Through the course of the story we frequently meet a man known simply as The Judge or Judge Holden. Heralding back to my earlier comments on metaphor Holden is an earthly manifestation of the devil inside all men. He is possessed with superhuman strength and diabolic wisdom and shows up in the story whenever it is appropriate.

This gets mighty spoilery from this point on. If you have not read BLOOD MERIDIAN and do not want to be spoiled I advise you to stop reading.

Art By Jarrod Owen

OK… You already read it or don’t give a fuck.

The book is written in almost a Biblical prose. It is also violent and graphic. But what brings forth more discussion from readers of the book is not its bleak portrayal of violence in the American West. It is the ending. The common belief among scholars is The Judge raped and murdered The Kid and left him for dead in the outhouse in Fort Griffin. I cry foul at this. And here is why. I do not believe The Judge was alive.

There is a point in the narrative where The Kid and his companion the ex-priest escape from the clutches of Judge Holden after an Indian raid. The Kid kills the Judge’s horses and stranding him in the desert. From here the wounded the Kid sees the Judge come visit him in jail complete with mystical visions. 

Art by Deimos R Emus

And this is where the psychological horror of BLOOD MERIDIAN is so subtle and brilliant. I don’t think the Judge was really there.  I think The Kid hallucinated it. I think The Judge died in the desert. The Kid was fucked up from an arrow wound at this point. He was delirious. So yes I believe in the last quarter of the book any time The Judge shows up he is a manifestation of The Kid and his imagination. 

Flash forward to The Kid becoming The Man in Fort Griffin. He murders a kid who was his age when he started his wicked ways. Then he goes to the saloon and low and behold the judge shows up. There is some fuckery regarding a dancing bear. The Man leaves and finds a whore and fucks her. Then he goes to the outhouse and opens the door to see The Judge waiting for him. The Judge pulls the Kid into the outhouse without ceremony. The Judge exits the shitter and returns to the party. Time to dance naked.

I do not believe The Man saw the actual Judge in the Saloon. I believe the Man was seeing himself from the outside. Seeing what he had become. In storytelling coming of age stories usually involved young men on a chase to lose their virginity. The penultimate scene in BLOOD MERIDIAN has The Kid aka The Man both murder a teenager and bang a whore. He makes a sacrifice and gets laid. He transcended into the embodiment of War. He moved on. He was no longer the Man or the Kid. 


It becomes FIGHT CLUB. But only in this The Judge equates Tyler Durden analogy.

I believe the Man became the embodiment of ideal The Judge. The Kid became the Man who became The Judge. The Judge is the physical embodiment of War and the evil that men do. He is a metaphor for the Devil or any God of war and corruption. This makes BLOOD MERIDIAN more than a hyperviolent Anti-Western. The last quarter of the book turns into a psychological horror story where the protagonist is transformed into the eternal antagonist. 

If you have read this book am I perceiving it right? Or am I high? Or did I come up with a theory you had not thought of yourself? Let me know in the comments on Facebook or below here on WordPress.