I read this story at the same time while reading Game of Thrones. So while I went around switching between both of these books, the combination of reading Fantasy and American Cowboy ends up with my brain fusing both of the stories. In my mind, I kept on repeatedly picture a boy, riding a horse with a wolf bounding beside him. Note to self, never do that ever again. Having your imagination screwed around by two completely different books is never really good, but if both of them are equally interesting… well, good luck.
Billy Parham was a sixteen year old boy at the start of the story. His life was a typical one, a one filled with ranching and hunting with his father and his younger brother Boyd. These cowboys spent their lives outdoors, working and bringing home food to the family table, a feat that I could never achieve. Everything in the 21st century has nothing to do with catching your own food. Food is easily accessible for those with the money. The poor who could not provide their own food would end up getting a low class job or begging. There is almost nothing to hunt by cities, most of the wild animals scared off by the cars and smoke from pollution.
Being a cowboy doesn’t exactly talk about people riding in horses and shooting bullets in the sky, but it isn’t like that. Billy’s family strive to survive, ranching cattle of the winter. And by ranching, it also includes shooting off pests, which means meat eaters that prowl the areas. Bears and wolves. It was winter when they realized a wolf was taking down cattle, and Billy’s attempts to capture it was futile. The wolf easily dodged past the traps designed for it. It went to the point where it could easily get past a bear trap.
What was Billy supposed to do when he finally capture the wolf? He would have to kill it. Because the wolf was taking down larger cattle and was competition for food. It took Billy a long time, but with patience he finally caught the wolf. It turned out to be a she wolf, pregnant with pups. The trap had caught her along one of her paws. But instead of killing it, Billy chose to let her live and bring her to a long trip to Mexico, a place where he believes she belongs.
“The eye turned to the fire gave back no light and he closed it with his thumb and sat by her and put his hand upon her bloodied forehead and closed his own eyes that he could see her running in the mountains, running in the starlight where the grass was wet and the sun’s coming as yet had not undone the rich matrix of creatures passed in the night before her.” – Billy and the Wolf on their way to Mexico.
My favorite part of this story was Billy’s interactions with the she-wolf. They met many people along the way to Mexico, whom poured out their amusements to seeing Billy and his wolf. After all, it was amusing to watch a Man cross the country on his Horse with a Wolf dragged behind them on a leash. But funny turned seriously quickly. Billy was arrested by a nearby town when they spotted him trying to cross the river with the wolf. Billy did try to defend his wolf, but the first part of the story ended with the wolf being shot and killed, leaving Billy to return back to his house.
What did the wolf symbolize? The wolf could be many things. From the beauty of animals to Billy’s manhood. Billy was sixteen, the maturing age of men. He was still crossing the line to a full adult when he met the wolf. The wolf made a huge character development. When the she-wolf died, his childhood died with her.
Billy’s relationship with his younger brother Boyd had its up and downs. They had a close bond, and Boyd would do what his big brother said with no problem at all unless the situation calls in for an argument. Billy cared for Boyd and looked after his brother including the time after Billy went back home and realized that his entire family was killed. He looked around for Boyd’s whereabouts, finally finding him. Together, they pieced out the things Billy had missed when he was gone, and they went on on their next mission. To recover the family’s stolen horses during the murder attack.
Cormac McCarthy is a very secretive person, and a part time working Professor Botanist. The Crossing was the second book in the trilogy. I prefer the second book to the first book, All the Pretty Horse. I’m waiting for the chance to read the third book.