All the Pretty Horses


Cormac McCarthy

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Religion Symbol Analysis

Religion Symbol Icon
At several points in the novel, John Grady and Rawlins discuss faith, religion, and God. These conversations often center around God’s will, and how that will meshes with or diverges from human will. Mexico is an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, and reminders of Christianity can be found scattered throughout the novel’s setting—the statue of Jesus Christ in the hacienda’s billiards room, the children in the street who tell John Grady to ask God to intercede for his affair with Alejandra, and the farmworker who prays at the end of a long table when John Grady joins them for dinner. In many of these cases, people turn to religion and God as a result of their own sense of helplessness, powerlessness, or lack of understanding. Faced with the mystery of death, unable to affect the success of the crops for a certain season, or confused as to why people act the way they do, the novel’s characters find solace in religion—which, in this book, seems to have less to do with the catechism and authority of the Church than with people’s daily lives. Religion, then, symbolizes the search for understanding amidst a surfeit of unknowns.

Religion Quotes in All the Pretty Horses

The All the Pretty Horses quotes below all refer to the symbol of Religion. 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

Way the world is. Somebody can wake up and sneeze somewhere in Arkansas or some damn place and before you’re done there’s wars and ruination and all hell. You dont know what’s goin to happen. I’d say He’s just about got to. I don’t believe we’d make it a day otherwise.

Related Characters: Lacey Rawlins (speaker)
Related Symbols: Religion
Page Number: 92
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2 Quotes

Finally he said that among men there was no such communion as among horses and the notion that men can be understood at all was probably an illusion. […] Finally John Grady asked him if it were not true that should all horses vanish from the face of the earth the soul of the horse would not also perish for there would be nothing out of which to replenish it but the old man only said that it was pointless to speak of there being no horses in the world for God would not permit such a thing.

Related Characters: John Grady Cole, Luis
Related Symbols: Horses, Religion
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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