All the Pretty Horses

Blood Symbol Icon
In a narrative punctured with pistol shots and thrusts of a knife, it is little surprise that we hear so much about blood in the novel. Human blood is, of course, tied to the theme of violence, and also to the idea that for many Mexicans, nothing can be proven if it is not made to bleed, as Alfonsa says about her fellow citizens. But blood also symbolizes the attempt to prove oneself, to embrace courage and carve out one’s own identity. Rawlins worries that his infusion of blood might make him part Mexican—a humorous moment, but one that also emphasizes how easy it is for the characters to link blood to national and personal identity. In this framework, blood must be spilled for blood—this is why the charro hires the captain to kill Blevins in revenge. In the prison, John Grady realizes that someone’s blood must be spilled, and that his only choice is to kill or be killed. The novel supplements this symbolism with imagery of blood-red sunsets and dust—all symbols of violence that take a personal turn when tied to the choices John Grady and other characters have made.

Blood Quotes in All the Pretty Horses

The All the Pretty Horses quotes below all refer to the symbol of Blood. 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:
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of All the Pretty Horses published in 1993.
Part 1 Quotes

What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them.

Related Characters: John Grady Cole (speaker)
Related Symbols: Horses, Blood
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Part 4 Quotes

In history there are no control groups. There is no one to tell us what might have been. We weep over the might have been, but there is no might have been. There never was. It is supposed to be true that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it. I dont believe knowing can save us. What is constant in history is greed and foolishness and a love of blood and this is a thing that even God—who knows all that can be known—seems powerless to change.

Related Characters: Alfonsa (speaker), John Grady Cole
Related Symbols: Religion, Blood
Page Number: 239
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

In his sleep he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stone the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again. Finally what he saw in his dream was that the order in the horse’s heart was more durable for it was written in a place where no rain could erase it.

Related Characters: John Grady Cole
Related Symbols: Horses, Blood
Page Number: 280
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Blood Symbol Timeline in All the Pretty Horses

The timeline below shows where the symbol Blood appears in All the Pretty Horses. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...loves in horses the same thing that he loves in men: “the heat of the blood that ran them,” that is, the ardent side of living. He rides back home, still... (full context)
Part 2
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...several times, and the letters he carried were dog-eared and stained with coffee and possibly blood. He gives his receipts and the papers for the horse to Don Héctor, and they... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
...the mares, and without the charity of his hands they’ll have nothing. He feels the blood pumping inside the horse’s ribs and through its body, to the globes of the horse’s... (full context)
Part 3
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...“cuchillero” (knife-bearer) John Grady knows the boy is a hired assassin. As John Grady tastes blood from a cut, it occurs that he’s going to die here. The other prisoners have... (full context)
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
John Grady accidentally drops his tray and, touching his shirt, realizes it’s sticky with blood. He backs away and sinks to the floor. The cuchillero leans in and grabs John... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...still watching John Grady, but no one follows as he walks to his room with blood sloshing in his boots. He flings away his knife. A tall man tells him to... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
...says dying isn’t in people’s plans, is it. Rawlins says they put a liter of blood into him, and asks if that means he’s part Mexican. John Grady jokes that he’s... (full context)
Part 4
The Idea of the American West Theme Icon
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...but not substance. They are convinced nothing can be proven unless it is made to bleed. (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Innocence, Expertise, and Knowledge Theme Icon
Fate and Responsibility Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...believe knowing can save us. Instead the only constants are greed, foolishness, and love of blood. (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...as the charro obeys, and then looks down at his leg, his pants dark with blood. John Grady tells the charro to bring him the other two horses. He looks at... (full context)
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...He takes off his pants and looks at his thigh wound. He wipes away the blood, seeing discolored skin around the wound. He drags the pistol from the coals and quickly... (full context)
Romanticism and Reality Theme Icon
Meaningful and Gratuitous Violence Theme Icon
...world’s pain counts for more than its beauty: that one flower becomes equivalent to the blood of many. (full context)