The spiritual dimension is more obviously woven into Cities of the Plain than in McCarthy’s other work, perhaps in opposition to the bleak, bitter aspects of grief. Christian and other themes are woven in, from the introduction of Magdalena, who is, as was Mary Magdalene in some traditions, epileptic; to Mr. Johnson, the ranch owner, musing on whether creatures can vanish ("I was always what you might call superstitious. I know I damn sure wasn’t religious. And it had always seemed to me that something can live and die but the kind of thing they were was always there. I didn’t know you could poison that. I ain’t heard a wolf howl in thirty odd years. I don’t know where you’d go to hear one. There may not be any such place"); to John Grady and Magdalena, wondering, in a late encounter, about forgiveness ("He said that he believed in God even if he was doubtful of men’s claims to know God’s mind. But that a God unable to forgive was no God at all"). John Grady recalls the Comanches, whose trails remained behind his childhood ranch: "He would ride that trail in the moonlight in the fall of the year and the ghosts of the Comanches would pass all about him on their way to the other world again and again for a thing once set in motion has no ending in this world until the last witness has passed." And, in an otherwise puzzling, cryptical epilogue set in 2002, the aged survivor, dreaming of his lost ones, wandering alone in what used to be his own country, is taken in by a young family and assured by the mother that he’ll see a lost one again, that she knows who he is, and that he is not nothing. Here again, the reader is reminded not only that destructive events and behaviors partake of irrationality but also that our antidote to grief is not in the rational realm. So, perhaps, Cities of the Plain does not leave the reader bereft, with only the taste of ashes in the mouth. McCarthy makes his reader work for what is gained, and, as before, there is much to gain.