Monday, June 28, 2010

Boyd's Death in The Crossing, "A Simple Transposition of Letters"

Late in The Crossing, McCarthy narrates a dream where Billy speaks to his brother Boyd who had just awoken from a nightmare (a dream within a dream). Billy tells him to speak quieter, and then we are told "But in the dream Boyd only said softly that they would not wake" (296).

Edwin Arnold comments that Boyd's whisper is "a sad reminder of both the wolf's and his parents' fates, and a premonition of Boyd's forthcoming abandonment of his brother and of his own death." He makes a further textual observation on this important sequence:
It also reflects Billy's later determination to recover Boyd's body and bring it home (such a simple transposition of letters--body/Boyd--marks Boyd's passage from life to death and memory).
—Edwin T. Arnold, "Go to sleep: Dreams and Visions in the Border Trilogy," in A Cormac McCarthy Companion: The Border Trilogy (GBks, 61)

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