All the Pretty Horses Story Summary

All the Pretty Horses
Overview
Themes
Symbols
Coming of Age with Ideals Intact
As the last in a line of Texas ranchers, John Grady Cole is exiled from the only life he has known. He and a friend ride off on their horses to Mexico on an idealized—yet treacherous—journey to realize their dreams. Trouble with the law follows when John Grady falls in love, but through pain and loss he gains wisdom.
Romanticism & Reality
John Grady believes in the power of love, but brute realism is often more powerful.
Coming of Age
People may pursue harmony, but there is no life without conflict and bloodshed.
Horses
Represent connection with centuries of adventure, romance, and battle
Religion
Symbolizes John Grady's journey to understand life and God's will
Blood
Symbolizes the price John Grady pays for what he loves—horses, Alejandra, his life
Author
McCarthy, who grew up in Tennessee, went to Texas in his 30s and endured poverty as a budding writer. His award-winning fiction—including short stories, plays, screenplays, and novels—often uses Western settings, sparse sentences, and stark images in the Southern gothic style.
CORMAC MCCARTHY BORN 1933
Numbering
3
Volumes in the Border Trilogy, of which All the Pretty Horses is the first
2
Literary awards the novel won in 1992: the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award
2000
Year a major film adaption of the novel was released starring Matt Damon as John Grady
2005
Year McCarthy won the Pulitzer Prize for The Road
Main Character
The Captain
Duena Alfonsa
Alejandra's educated, manipulative great aunt
Brutal Mexican lawman; murders Blevins
Jimmy Blevins
Runaway; follows JohnGrady and Rawlins to Mexico
John Grady Cole
Teenager skilled with horses; passionate about his values
Alejandra
Don Rocha's beautiful daughter; secretly has an affair with John Grady
Lacey Rawlins
John Grady's impatient best friend and travelling comparion
Don Hector Rocha y Villareal
Wealthy Mexican ranch owner