Blood Meridian

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While riding out of Nacogdoches, the kid comes upon a hovel belonging to the hermit, a man both filthy and half mad. The hermit accommodates the kid and his mule, going so far as to provide the kid with shelter during a stormy night. The hermit was once a slaver in Mississippi who keeps as a memento of those days a dried and blackened human heart. He tells the kid that whiskey, women, money, and black people have the power to destroy the world, and prophecies that human beings will create an evil that can sustain itself for a thousand years.

The hermit Quotes in Blood Meridian

The Blood Meridian quotes below are all either spoken by The hermit or refer to The hermit. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Warfare and Domination Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Vintage edition of Blood Meridian published in 1992.
Chapter 2 Quotes

You can find meanness in the least of creatures, but when God made man the devil was at his elbow. A creature that can do anything. Make a machine. And a machine to make the machine. And evil that can run itself a thousand years, no need to tend it.

Related Characters: The hermit (speaker)
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

After setting fire to the hotel in Nacogdoches with Toadvine, the Kid flees and begins a life of begging and theft on the prairies. One night, he sees smoke rising from among the hills, and riding toward it discovers a hut where a character called the hermit dwells. The Kid stays the night at the hermit's hut and the two talk.

The hermit used to be a slaver in Mississippi, and therefore knows from personal experience a good deal about the "meanness," or cruelty, that every animal exhibits in nature. However, the hermit holds that the cruelest animal in the world –whose creation the devil must have had a hand in – is man himself. The novel does not contradict this claim. Other animals fight and kill to survive – but men like Judge Holden fight for the sheer pleasure of fighting.

Blood Meridian is set in the mid 1800s, toward the end of the Industrial Revolution when manual labor was being replaced by machines. Although we don't see any factories, for example, in the novel, the hermit reminds us that the same spirit of dominating nature which the Judge sermonizes on is also at work in American industry. Moreover, the hermit's prophecy suggests that industrialization will lead to an evil that can run itself for a thousand years, but no more: an economy that can provide the weapons for mass warfare and also the incentive to use them. Through the hermit's "prophecy" McCarthy, then, connects the shocking brutality on display in the novel to the present world, suggesting that such brutality still exists all around us.


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The hermit Character Timeline in Blood Meridian

The timeline below shows where the character The hermit appears in Blood Meridian. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Warfare and Domination Theme Icon
Witness and Mercy Theme Icon
...smoke rising from among the hills and rides toward it. He finds a hut where a hermit lives, half mad and filthy. The kid requests water; the two enter the hermit’s gloomy... (full context)
Warfare and Domination Theme Icon
The kid thanks the hermit , but the hermit predicts that a storm is coming and tells the kid that... (full context)
Warfare and Domination Theme Icon
Racism and Partisanship Theme Icon
Inside, the hermit asks the kid if he lost his way, and the kid responds in the affirmative.... (full context)
Warfare and Domination Theme Icon
Religion and Ritual Theme Icon
The hermit begins speaking of religious matters: how it is difficult and painful to live in sin,... (full context)
Fate Theme Icon
The kid and the hermit eat together while thunder booms overhead. Eventually the kid makes his bed and falls asleep,... (full context)