“All the Pretty Mexican Girls: Whiteness and Racial Desire in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses and Cities of the Plain” uses a critical analysis of race and gender to argue that John Grady Cole’s relationship with Alejandra and Magdalena invokes a larger and longer history of the commodification and sexualization of women’s bodies in the contact zone of the US-Mexico borderlands. The critical concerns this article addresses seek to re-situate McCarthy’s influential borderlands writing within a more nuanced series of border encounters that expose how transactions between regional, national, and international material realities on the US-Mexico border make available certain identities and modes of representation. Exposing the links between McCarthy’s representations and real-world material realities are crucial to this analysis because they reveal how McCarthy both accounts for and disavows the operations of power and history on the US-Mexico border. McCarthy’s border novels represent an in-between space where western history and the Western genre can be self-consciously invoked and revised, but only to a certain extent. John Grady Cole may be a more compassionate and “politically correct” John Wayne, yet the violence, sexual and otherwise, perpetrated on the bodies of brown women in the Border Trilogy reminds us how much McCarthy’s white masculinities rely on such abject bodies in order to fashion their own ambivalent agency in the brutal world of McCarthy’s borderlands.


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pp. 422-442
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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