Discovering the Romantic in a Necrophile: The Question of Misogyny in Child of God
Lester Ballard is a Romantic, and his Romantic qualities go beyond the well-accepted Gothic underpinnings in McCarthyâ€™s Child of God of Ballard as the necrophiliac, the â€œcrazed mountain troll,â€ and the perverse anti-hero (McCarthy 152). By understanding the more complex Romantic elements of Ballardâ€™s character and actions it is possible to better reconcile Lester Ballad the murdering necrophiliac and child of God.Â Many scholars address this ethical dilemma of reconciling Ballard as a murderer and child of God by attempting to understand the reasons for his necrophilia. In No Place for Home: Spatial Constraint and Character Flight in the Novels of Cormac McCarthy, Jay Ellis suggests that Ballardâ€™s necrophilia is a symptom of his mental and physical â€œunhousing.â€ Other critics condemn Ballard; Nell Sullivanâ€™s article â€œThe Evolution of the Dead Girlfriend Motif in Outer Dark and Child of Godâ€ considers Ballard an example of a misogynistic character that fears living women and prefers them dead. While Sullivan provides a much-needed feminist critique of Child of God, her conclusion that Ballard is a misogynist simplifies the ethical dilemma by discounting feelings of empathy for the protagonist; however, tempering Sullivanâ€™s feminist-driven theory with Ellisâ€™ emphasis on space and exploring Ballardâ€™s Romantic interactions with his victims provides a more profitable feminist apparatus to understand this seemingly irredeemably misogynistic character.