Often people complain about an ending to a story being too sad or too happy, neglecting to acknowledge the conclusion of the moral development of the main characters. While Cormac McCarthy’s novel All the Pretty Horses did have a sad plot, there was a clear and deep spiritual development in the main character, John Grady Cole. The book follows John through many trials and tribulations, and through it all, he learns and develops into a wiser man. However, at the end of the novel, John is left in distress morally and needs a town judge’s reassurance to conclude his spiritual journey in the story.
When John Grady Cole returns from Mexico, his heart is at unrest, and he believes he needs to reconcile by returning the horse of his friend Jimmy Blevins to its rightful owner. His journey led him to a judge who listened to his story and his feelings concerning the events of his trip to Mexico. John expresses how he feels guilty for bringing pain to the lives of Alejandra and Blevins and for the life of the boy he killed in prison. The judge explained to him that what happened in the past was the past, and for the most part, he did the right thing. While this interaction did not immediately bring peace to John, it did allow him to get out his final feelings for the events before he could finally leave the land.
Prices start at $12
Prices start at $11
Prices start at $14
Prices start at $12
This ending brought a conclusion to the spiritual development of John Grady in this book and also concluded the events which started in the first chapter cyclically. The book began with the death of John’s grandfather, which helped in compelling him to leave the country, and when he finally returned, he learned that his final connections with the land, his father and beloved Abuela, had died just as his grandfather had. While John is physically back where he started, he has changed so much and is finally ready to move on after meeting with the Judge, Pastor, and Rawlings.
The book ends with John travelling west of Texas to find his country, which is ironically similar to how the book began since he is heading off into New Mexico since the old one failed him. The ending to All the Pretty Horses will remain memorable not because of its happy ending but because of its conclusion to the development of its main character. The final chapter of the book brings John to reconcile with all the events which happened in the book, and once this is completed, he is finally ready to move on to a new land. Thus, while its cyclic nature may have brought sorrow to the reader, the events of the book were well concluded in the best possible way.