All The Pretty Horses is a stunning success and a story of dispossession. The story talks about a boy who loses his family and home, moreover, his future dream too. The story also shows how this boy alters all this in a manner that changes his life profoundly. Basically, this is an adventure story, a love story and a story that evolves on an ostentatious scale. This paper discusses how McCarthy was intrigued by John Grady Cole's childhood to write about how growing up without parental figures shapes ones life, and ultimately, influences their choices made.
Parents are a source of centered identity, love, and affection. They guide their children in the best way, possibly acting as role models. Their hind sight is their children’s foresight. However, there comes a time that either both or one of the parents is absent to play the role of bringing up children. This could happen through separation, utter negligence of parenting duty, or by the cruel hand of death. Notwithstanding, children will have to grow and develop and in the course of life, have to make some pertinent decisions. Depending on one’s luck, resilience, will and opportunities, a child can grow up to be a successful person in the future or fail to succeed. For example, in early childhood, an infant needs to create a relationship with the parent for normal social and emotional development. This is like securing a base for their life. Children who survive infantry without parental figures are lucky since growing without the care-giver jeopardizes the children’s health or safety.
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John Grady, the character in question, is a person in isolation. The relationship of John Grady and his parents is non-existent. Additionally, the relationship with his cousin lacks intimacy and is fragile and shaky. Grady faces his jail time alone. When he least expected it, he is also left by the woman he loves so much- his girlfriend. Consequently, he left Texas and moved to Mexico alone as there was nothing to continue holding on to. The character had a very close relationship with his horse. Though Grady was an equestrian at heart, and had grown without affection, his love for others and especially that of his horse goes beyond approbation to pure understanding. This explains why we find him moving to another country to find solace in a land of strangers. Besides, Grady was so caring despite the fact that no one cared for him. This can be evidenced by his caring attitude towards Blevins (Gaukler 9). When Blevins lost his clothes in the thunderstorm, Grady gave him his extra shirt as if this was a natural thing to do. Additionally, when Blevins lost his horse, Grady was kind enough to carry him using his own. From this we see the character of Grady changing.
When adolescence stage comes, the child is faced with a psychological revolution and identity crises. Role play becomes eminent as the children are groping with romance, vocational choices and most importantly, the adult status. This is when they develop a sense of self-awareness. Should the parental figure be absent in this stage, the adolescent would likely get wrong identity and sense of purpose, thus getting trapped in role confusion or negative identity (Watts et al. 12). Teenagers need the parental role of guidance for them to develop a good personality and attitude towards their ‘evolving’ self and other people around them. At this stage, open communication between the parents and the children does convey a lot of information, support and encouragement. By the parents sharing their own adolescent experiences with their children, the children could feel better and relieved. Without parental guidance, the identities of delinquent and thug might prevail.They may indulge in vices such as drug and substance abuse which they think is the only way to escape from the problems facing them. They also feel in the right association of friends if their behaviors are similar.
From the story, we learn how the situation of Grady’s life affected his life. The character grew without his mother by himself. His mother had abandoned him at his early stage in life under the care of Mexican women and remained away for quite a period of time. His father, on the other hand, was kept away by the Second World War. As such he did not teach his son a lot of things as expected of a father to his children other than about the horses. This means that Grady was alone as the relationship he had with his grandfather did not give him enough nurturing as required. Growing up without parents is not an easy thing. Children are seen to suffer as they struggle to make ends meet in the world out there. From the novel, this can be explained by the fact that Grady suffered abandonment emotionally and physically upon the divorce of his parents and the death of his grandfather (Granot 127). As such he is seen to move in a new land to find fulfillment, which he imagines is waiting for him. Being alone has hardened Grady. The young man is full of dreams and has certainly become of action and idealism. This is a trait that makes him a hero. Besides, this explains that despite growing without a parental figure in his life, he was able to make ideal decisions and shape his life appropriately.
One of the major impacts of relationships is issues. Apparently, children who grow into adults lacking a parent figure fear to form close relationships with other people, with the apprehension that such people will end up leaving or hurting them (Granot 145). They find it difficult to demonstrate affection or love for the reason that they lacked the same while growing up. Each person has the capacity of loving others including friends in spite of what they have gone through in their childhood. In our case, Grady has demonstrated this. Despite of his growing up without parental figures, he is engaged in star-crossed relation, which can be said to have taken him entirely by surprise, in addition to costing him more compared to what he had expected. This is evidenced by the fact that when Grady and his friend Rawlins arrived in Mexico, they were lucky to get employed at an old hacienda where he fell in love with the owner of the hacienda’s daughter, Alejandra, notwithstanding the fact that courting her was austerely forbidden. His love for Alejandra could not be compared to anything he had previously known. However, Grady realized that unlike his hometown, in Mexico, love had the power of destroying the reputation of a woman and stir the vengeance and anger of a family. It is against this backdrop that we can say that McCarthy was intrigued by Grady’s childhood to write concerning how children who grow up without parental figures are able to shape their life and the choices they make. Regardless of the fact that Grady grew up without parental love, this did not affect his love life in future. He was able to love other people including having a girlfriend.
Positive sense of worth amongst children is usually created by assisting them to find out what they can do better. Part of it originates from feeling skilled and competent regarding what they enjoy. Opportunities should be created for children in order to assist them to discover different activities, objects, as well as persons. These interests should be nurtured with the intention of assisting children to grow into adulthood feeling good regarding themselves and being successful. According to Holden, parental guidance is crucial in child development (197). They are the conductors or architect of their development. Parents have a responsibility of observing, recognizing, and assessing the genetic characteristics of their children, in addition to cultivating their strengths. Holden adds that though parents have positive goals for their children, some have refined whilst while others have general goals (197). This was an aspect that was not found in Grady’s life. He lacked anyone to give him attention or nurture his interest. In the novel, it is apparent that Grady lacked the parental figure to guide him or nurture his interests.
The fact that his mother wanted to sell the ranch that he wished to manage appeared to be his worst nightmare, and this made him to make the decision of living in Mexico. Leaving for Mexico demonstrated his refusal of accepting the passing of the cowboy age that is represented in the different subsets in the novel. McCarthy builds the novel on Grady’s refusal, who decides to leave his hometown in search for a better life characterized by honor and independence. Apparently, after arriving in Mexico, he was able to find a job at an old hacienda and was able to do what he loved, in spite of his past experiences.
The children might develop a nobody important feeling. This drives them to being irresponsible and can end up acting in an unnecessary and unacceptable manner in the society (Watts et al. 22). Teenagers join in gangs and fraternities. This is just signaling for attention. Many times, the children are faced with the full force of the law, if not learning it through the hard way by attaining disciplinary action from the society at large. Children without the care of parents are more likely to be sexually active at an early age. Teenage girls decline in academic performance and might end up in prostitution as a means of surviving. Consequently, what follows are high rates of pregnancy in the teenage girls and an increasing risk of contracting HIV/AIDS. Clearly, a parental figure would come in handy to mitigate if not stop these unfortunate occurrences in their lives.
According to studies, a child growing up without a parent figure makes his/her experience trauma and depression. Moreover, the children would also wonder a lot as well as feel bad seeing their friends enjoy family relationships (Granot 130). However, this was not the case with Grady as his friends did not enjoy the solidarity of a family. They even had to escape together to find solace elsewhere. The children who grow up away from their parents tend to have a low self-esteem and they give up so easily. Grady’s case was different, because he strongly believed in his dreams. This can also be attributed to the fact that his friends suffered almost the same problems as he. Children who grow away from their parents need to understand that enduring happiness can only be guaranteed if they have self-control and are in control of their emotions and actions. This culminates in the paradox that true freedom is a result to control oneself no matter the circumstance. As such they should not engage explosive acts of recklessness and passion that will hurt them or any other person.
It is good to understand that the changeover childhood to adulthood is something that everyone should contribute towards, though differently (Holden 82-85). It is a well known fact that the maturation process is a time whereby persons develop their uniqueness and individuality away from their parents. From McCarthy’s tale, we see Grady takes charge of his own life, though he was not to blame for his actions. Since he did not get a fine tuning of ideologies, morals and beliefs as passed across generations.
As a matter of fact, living without a parental figure for whatever reason is not enough of an excuse for not making it in life. Despite the fact that there is no one to look up to, no one to share with and to show the way, one can still rise above the circumstances and live a positive life. Awakening to the reality that there is no one to fall back to, some people get such a massive forward thrust that they live on to fulfill their purpose in life.
The changeover childhood to adulthood is something that everyone should contribute towards, though differently. As such parents have a responsibility of observing, recognizing, and assessing the genetic characteristics of their children, in addition to cultivating their strengths. Evidently, growing up without a parent figure makes a child experience trauma and depression. The experiences that Grady went through during his transition from childhood to adulthood upon the death of his grandfather and the divorce of his parents have shaped him significantly. We have seen him grow to a hero, caring and loving man. In addition, Grady has not succeeded in everything that he chose to do, and his strong heart never gave up as he believed that he was doing the right thing. In a nutshell, positive sense of worth amongst children is usually created by assisting them find out what they can do better. Part of it originates from feeling skilled and competent regarding what they enjoy. Opportunities should be created for children in order to assist them to discover different activities, objects, as well as persons. These interests should be nurtured with the intention of assisting children grow into adulthood feeling good regarding themselves and be successful. Finally, it is apparent from this analysis that Grady’s childhood influenced McCarthy in his writings about how growing up without parental figure shapes ones life, and ultimately influences their choices made.
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