All the Pretty Horses, by Cormac McCarthy is a novel that concerns itself with the meeting place between realism and romanticism (SparkNotes). This is a book that deals with a young man’s love for the Western lifestyle. The author helps describe the character’s development throughout the novel by its setting and symbolism. The idea of whether the cowboy life is real or just a mere fantasy leads this man to question and go on a journey. Symbolism and setting, as well as character development, help this novel develop into a great piece of literature. The author uses setting to better portray the situation that the speaker is going through. All the Pretty Horses is set in 1949 and 1950, with the opening of the novel being set in San Angelo, Texas and later transitioning to Mexico. This novel is known to be set after World War II which later on helps the reader understand a character’s past. “His father rode sitting forward slightly in the saddle, holding the reins in one hand about two inches above the saddlehorn. So thin and frail, lost in his clothes. Looking over the country with those sunken eyes as if the world out there had been altered or made suspect by what he’d seen of it elsewhere. As if he might never see it right again. Or worse did see it right at last. See it as it had always been, would forever be.”(23). This quote shows that John’s father is still scarred by his experience during World War II when he was hold captive. All the Pretty Horses is around the end of the cowboy life which leads to protagonist’s journey. The setting is important because John Grady Cole grew up on a ranch and after a family issue, they are going to sell it. John Grady Cole’s love for the cowboy lifestyle leads him to run away and go to Mexico to search for this love. Symbolism is another thing that helps drive the story. McCarthy can be called the poet of the sunsets due to his excellent use of them. This is a novel filled with sunsets, and the sunset described as “coppering” John Grady’s face at the novel’s beginning is mirrored by the sunset at the novel’s end. “In the evening a wind came up a reddened all the sky before him…He rode with the sun coppering his face and the red wind blowing out of the west across the evening land…” (302). Throughout the novel there are sunsets, signifying the end of things and painting the novel’s scenes blood-red. John Grady Cole refuses to accept the passing of the cowboy age which is symbolized in the novel’s many sunsets. Finally, John Grady Cole learns different things throughout his journey with his friends. All of these things help him mature and understand various things.Overall, Cormac McCarthy uses the concept of setting and symbolism to develop this novel. With these things being present in the book, this novel developed into a great piece of literature. This book tries to describe the human and psychological cost of living according to dreams and romantic ideals. The search for the romantic cowboy life leads John Grady and his companions into Mexico. It is the romantic pursuit of forbidden love that ends in John Grady’s journey.Works CitedMcCarthy, Cormac. All the Pretty Horses. New York: VIntage Books, 1992.SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on All the Pretty Horses.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. n.d.. Web. 16 Dec. 2017.