Two defining features of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing are the vatic speeches given by characters with very different worldviews and cultures and the polyphonic narrative. A challenge of this novel is how to relate these features. According to Mikhail Bakhtin, a truly polyphonic novel allows for “diversity of social speech types,” but many of the most significant speeches in The Crossing share the same voice: the vatic style identified with the narrator. This paper explores how the repeated intrusion of the narrator’s voice upon the speeches of various characters affects a Bakhtinian reading of The Crossing. Specifically, it argues that these intrusions, which alter the words and therefore the worldviews of the characters, represent the narrator’s voice entering into the discourse of the novel on being and narrative. Thus, the narrator stifles the heteroglossia of the language of certain characters even as he contributes to the novel’s dialogic nature.


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pp. 236-257
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