As a person comes of age their own story takes center stage. When we are younger we inhabit the orbit of adults; our parents and elder family members. The world is defined by and in relation to them. As we grow and chart an independent course our actions increasingly become our own. Yet we are never freed entirely from our ties to others. McCarthy's novel is, among many other things, about the tension between ties that bind and independence. Billy Parnham's story becomes about himself, but as time goes by and he remains disconnected, it is increasingly populated by the lives of others. Yet, these are mere episodes. Parnham passes-by and passes-through. Finally, alone on the border plains, Parnham is unable, or unwilling, to let others into his life fully. He seems truly alone.