Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Lackey, Kris

Second Advisor

White, Les

Third Advisor

Cooke, John


The purpose of this thesis is to examine the function and effect of black comedy in Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian. Several different explanations for the presence of comedy in such a relentlessly violent novel have been made: that this humor is simply a realistic depiction of the folksy, dry vernacular of the time; that it reinforces the idea that the characters are so morally bankrupt that they are able to make jokes in the midst of so much destruction; or, that it serves to keep the reader's sensibilities in a state of flux between attraction and revulsion: relieving tension, then increasing it again and again, thereby defying easy structuring of how one should feel. This essay proposes that the gallows humor in the novel helps to establish an absurd universe (as delineated by Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus), and as this existential void is circumscribed, anything and everything in the novel becomes potentially farcical.


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