Cities of the Plain

Cities of the Plain is the final volume of American novelist Cormac McCarthy's "Border trilogy."

Plot introduction

Part 3 of the trilogy that includes All the Pretty Horses and The Crossing, Cities of the Plain takes place on both sides of the United States-Mexico border. The novel brings together John Grady Cole, protagonist of the first book of the trilogy, with Billy Parham, the young cowboy introduced in the second book.

Plot summary

The story begins in 1952 with both John Grady and Billy working together on a cattle ranch near the border cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. We learn of their life and work on the ranch. The owners are kind, but small cattle ranches of this kind are not thriving. Although the cowboys barely eke out their living, it is clear that John Grady and Billy love this harsh life -- close to the land, their horses, and the wild creatures that live in the desert. After a visit to a brothel in Juárez, John Grady falls in love with a fragile young prostitute, Magdalena. His destiny is to rescue her. Billy knows his younger friend is altruistic to a fault, but helps him in his mission. The brothel is run by Eduardo, a formidable adversary, and the opposite of John Grady in every way. Their meeting leads inevitably to a duel.

As in all of McCarthy's novels, there is a sorrowful end for the characters, the animals, even the place; however, in the epilogue, there is a glimmer of mercy, at least for one man.

External Links

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