Review of Border Trilogy Part 3: What Remains
The trilogy is McCarthy's most ambitious project yet, composed at the height of his mature powers over a period of fifteen years. It is "a miracle in prose," as Robert Hass wrote of its middle volume, an unsentimental elegy for the lost world of the cowboy, the passing of the wilderness, and the fading innocence of post-World War II America. The trilogy is a literary accomplishment with wide appeal, for despite the challenging materials in each book, these volumes remained on bestseller lists for many weeks. This collection of essays is the first book to examine these novels as a trilogy, the first to read them as an integrated whole. Together these explorations of McCarthy's magnum opus serve as an ideal companion reader.
While scouring the Sonoran Desert for objects left behind by migrants crossing into the United States, anthropologist Jason De León happened upon something he didn't expect to get left behind: a human arm, stripped of flesh. This macabre discovery sent him reeling, needing to know what exactly happened to the body, and how many migrants die that way in the wilderness. In researching border-crosser deaths in the Arizona desert, he noticed something surprising. Sometime in the late-1990s, the number of migrant deaths shot up dramatically and have stayed high since. Jason traced this increase to a Border Patrol policy still in effect, called “Prevention Through Deterrence.” Over three episodes, Radiolab will investigate this policy, its surprising origins, and the people whose lives were changed forever because of it. The third episode in our Border Trilogy follows anthropologist Jason De León after he makes a grisly discovery in Arivaca, Arizona. In the middle of carrying out his pig experiments with his students, Jason finds the body of a 30-year-old female migrant. With the help of the medical examiner and some local humanitarian groups, Jason discovers her identity. Her name was Maricela. Jason then connects with her family, including her brother-in-law, who survived his own harrowing journey through Central America and the Arizona desert.
All things considered, The Border trilogy demonstrates for us how the personal truly is the political. Both the personal and political rely upon and are tied together through the paradox of consciousness – through awareness of life as an adventure in decision that takes place within the theatre of transcendence, through understanding that wisdom may sometimes be the gift of the alien and the outsider. How does Cormac McCarthy represent life? Look into the eyes of the she-wolf. Listen to the tale of the Mexican stranger.