Abstract

John Sepich's Notes on Blood Meridian provides a chapter of analysis on a practice depicted very briefly in the novel: cartomancy. Although McCarthy only spends roughly three pages overtly treating the subject, Sepich successfully demonstrates tarot card divination to be something of a guiding principle throughout the text. However, neither Sepich nor any other critic to date has addressed the clues indicating that McCarthy's tarot deck is not only an amalgam, but that it contains elements found in no known deck prior to the twentieth century. The anachronistic tarot images in Blood Meridian are a seeming anomaly in an otherwise thoroughly researched work. But even the error is a complicated one, a product of research. An examination of McCarthy's twentieth-century cards provides insight on fate and free will within the world of the text. The Rider-Waite image (that of a young man refusing a cup offered by an otherworldly hand) sheds light on several scenes in the novel, most notably the climactic Fort Griffin barroom scene. But more importantly, it links the kid with a doomed Christ, who prays in Gethsemane: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”

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