The Echoes of Buddha, Jesus Christ, and Fredrich Nietzsche in Cormac McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited

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2018-01-01
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Lim, Hee-Seong
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Justin J. Remes
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English

The Department of English seeks to provide all university students with the skills of effective communication and critical thinking, as well as imparting knowledge of literature, creative writing, linguistics, speech and technical communication to students within and outside of the department.

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The Department of English and Speech was formed in 1939 from the merger of the Department of English and the Department of Public Speaking. In 1971 its name changed to the Department of English.

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1939-present

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  • Department of English and Speech (1939-1971)

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Abstract

As many of Cormac McCarthy scholars have agreed, McCarthy’s film adaptations as well as published novels conspicuously have engaged in religious themes. The purpose of this thesis is to explore religious aspects of the film adaptation of McCarthy’s The Sunset Limited (2011) from Buddhist, Christian, and atheist perspectives. This thesis’ Buddhist reading of The Sunset Limited is the first attempt among religious interpretations of McCarthy’s text, and this is expected to open a new horizon in the religious analysis of McCarthy’s film. The Sunset Limited shows a tension between Black and White, and the tension represents collisions of will to live and self-destruction.

First, focusing on the Buddhist notion of pain (dukkha), this research contends that White’s (understanding of) pain aligns with the Buddhist doctrine, but his solution to pain is antithetical to Buddhist philosophy. In addition, this study explores how Black’s theory of redemption and his own salvation conflicts with the Buddhist notion of redemption. The film also exhibits a collision between the Christian faith and atheist total nihilism. Secondly, this thesis compares White’s atheism to the Book of Job and how his mistrust of God prevents White from receiving salvation on contrary to Job. Furthermore, the second chapter claims how Black, who tries to dissuade White from another suicide attempt, miscarries his comforter role of White. Lastly, this thesis examines how White’s nihilism and atheism are different from that of Nietzsche based on his book, The Gay Science (1882), which famously declares “God is dead.” Addressing Buddhist, Christian, and atheist perspectives on The Sunset Limited will bring more vital and various discourses about McCarthy’s film with regard to the religious reading of this film adaptation.

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Tue May 01 00:00:00 UTC 2018