The Child of God is Present in Us
Cormac McCarthy’s “The Child of God” talks about a socially and mentally deviant man named Lester Ballard. The title reveals a paradoxical portrayal of a perverse and murderous Lester as a child of God. McCarthy tells the story of Lester from his disturbing youth filled with loss and rejections and his descent to the path of evil and crimes. He engages to necrophilia where he finds strange pleasure in corpses after an encounter with a dead couple in Frog Mountain. He then pursues more women by shooting them and taking them to his place where he can take pleasure in romancing and making love with them.
The theme of the novel might seem perverse and morbid; however, the noble thing about McCarthy’s work is his intention of elaborating and demonstrating alienation in the society with the extreme encounters of Lester. McCarthy’s ideas are interesting for it associates with the common mental and emotional problem of many members of the society which is isolation and the depressing feeling of social rejection. The darkness of the theme contributes to the emphasis of Lester’s life as a gloomy one. The book is also filled with metaphors and analogies that add to the sincerity of the novel as a highly literary work of art. According to Jay Ellis, “Ballard, McCarthy’s darkest character, has reached in this passage a lower world opposite that ‘upper’ one evidenced by the ‘thin shaft of actual daylight.’ In this lower world, what would be a house is also a grave.” (15).
The ability of the writer to present another world that experiences extreme isolation and rejection from the society, McCarthy is able to convey the message of how alienation from one’s society could be one of the most primary reasons for crimes, most especially in the production of serial killers. The author’s use of figurative language and detailed narration shows how an evil man like Lester Ballard can still gain a part of its readers’ sympathy. The book can also be a good source of understanding in the issue of conformity and implementation of strict social norms.
Ellis, Jay. No Place for Home: Spatial Constraint and Character Flight in the Novels of Cormac McCarthy. No Location: CRC Press, 2006.