Sin is an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine or natural law. With this being said, in the novel Child Of God by Cormac McCarthy, Lester Ballard can not seem to escape sin. Lester Ballard is described to look very rough and almost crazy. The novel calls him “A child of God much like yourself perhaps” (McCarthy, 4) which makes the reader believe that he could be any human, even them. As Lester commits his sinful acts it induces the idea that the average human can not escape the thought of sins deep within them. The inescapable sin of human nature is shown through Lester being a necrophile, a social outcast and a serial killer.
Necrophilia is a sign of someone being lonely and feeling as though they do not fit in with society at all. The interesting part is that necrophiles are still searching for love just like the average person. This leads into the next point of Lester being a social outcast. Lester feels as though he does not fit in with other humans so he tries to socialize as little as possible with the outside world. He also knows that his sins are wrong and this makes him try to avoid the embarrassment of being seen in public. Lastly, Lester being a serial killer shows the lengths he is willing to go to get what he desires. He kills for love and to take what he believes is his. The idea of humans not being able to outrun their sins is shown through Lester’s sinful actions throughout the novel.
Firstly, Lester’s actions as a necrophile is a sin that the average man would not seem to commit. He is an ordinary person in the way that he is searching for love, but the way he actually obtains love is not so ordinary. An example of this is when lester is walking down a road squirrel hunting and stumbles upon a dead couple in a car that seemed to be having sex. He enters the car and takes the valuables. He then pulls the boy off of the girl and begins to rape her. “He poured into that waxen ear everything he’d ever thought of saying to a woman.” (McCarthy, 88). This quote shows Lester’s need for love which is something that all humans need. In fact, love is located in the middle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. Lester obtains his love in an inhuman way, but the fact that he is searching for love gives a feeling that he is still a normal human. “She needs some drawers, Ballard blurted out.” (McCarthy, 98). Ballard is referring to his dead lover as if she is still alive which shows how committed he is to being in a relationship. Ballard, not being involved with society, feels as though this dead girl he found is his only way to feel the love that a couple would feel in your everyday relationship. Lester’s drive for love turns into a sinful act due to him taking this relationship so seriously because it is with a dead girl. When Lester found the dead couple in the car he entered and left the car multiple times before committing his sin. This shows how he debated doing it and has somewhere inside of him he has morals. This gives a taste of Lester not being a monster, but a human with feelings and ethics. “When he got home with the dead girl it was midmorning.” (McCarthy, 91). Ballard fought his sins well into night time. Eventually his sins took control and made him bring the girl back to his cabin. The idea of him debating whether to do it or not shows how sometimes humans know what the right thing to do is, but it is difficult for them to escape their sins or the evil choices that are deep within them.
Next, Lester being a social outcast is mostly caused by his realisation that he cannot control his sinful thoughts. He avoids associating with his town as much as possible to lower the chances of him doing bad things. Even with his best efforts, the evil inside him always finds a way to cause him trouble with the law. Ballard is suspected of burning down a house that he was squatting in by the sheriff, but he does not have enough evidence to put Ballard away. 'You are either going to have to find some other way to live or some other place in the world to do it in.' (McCarthy, 123).