The novel All the Pretty Horses, depicts a society in the coming-of-age. John Grady is brought out as a young man who is out to pursue a dream of living the cowboy lifestyle in a society that encounters active civilization due to colonization. John’s parents are divorced and live separately. This paper intends to evaluate the relationship between John and his parents. John’s relationship to both his father and mother has various comparisons and contrasts as well.
Comparisons in John’s Relationship with Father and Mother. John’s relationship with both his father and mother is estranged. John’s mother left the family when he was six months old and returned when he was three years old before leaving for good. Despite the fact that both the parents were alive, John grew up under the care of the ranch cook, Luisa, and his grandfather. The alienation between John and his mother is further realized when he went to watch her mother perform at the theatre in San Antonio. He pays to see the play in which she acts. After the performance, his mother never talked to him nor recognized him. This is simply to mean they barely knew each other. The novel records that John Grady met his father when he rode out to the surrounding country before going to the cafe. This reflects the cut-off relationship that John had with his father. They did not stay any closer.
To some extent, there is a conflict between John and both of the parents. John has a dream to live cowboy lifestyle in the face of modernity and civilization that eroded society’s traditions of the past. John’s father, on the other hand, reflects that the way of life as cowboys and ranchers is on the way to extinction; no wonder he could not buy the ranch at his father’s death though he was a professional gambler and had enough money. John, however, approaches his estranged mother persuading her to keep the ranch and lease it to him so that he can run it. His mother also declines the request on the basis that there would be no income to be earned from it. All attempts by John to acquire the ranch fail to materialize even with the consultations from the family lawyer, Mr. Franklin. It is thus this conflict that leads to John’s departure in pursuit of cowboy lifestyle and finally lands at Don Hector’s ranch in Mexico where he is willing to stay for a hundred years.
Contrasts in John’s Relationship with Father and Mother. The relationship between John and his father is, however, contrasted with that with his mother. To some extent, there is a harmonious father-son relationship. John seems to have respect, mutual understanding and freedom to talk to his father or be with his father. More often they meet and talk, for example at the cafe. John’s father gives him a gift of a saddle. Before John leaves home for Mexico, he goes riding with his father for the last time. This contrasts with the scene depicted at the theatre in San Antonio, in which the mother is brought out indifferent to his son, John, by failing to talk to him or even recognize him. John’s mother refused to lease the ranch to John who had a desire to run it. The mother seems not to care about John’s life, no wonder John escapes home in bid to find a place of his heart desire.
In conclusion, John’s relationship with his parents seems to compare more than the contrast. This may be attributed to the way John was brought up, that is with none of his parents close to him. However, he is more close to his father than to his mother. This brings out the theme of alienation; John is alienated to both the society and the family.