In Cormac McCarthy's The Orchard Keeper, the eponymous old man is visited by the cops. They do not get a warm welcome.

Why did they go there at all, and why was the old man so hostile to them?

I might have just missed the fact that it was spelled out in the book, but if not, there are three possible reasons I can see for the cops to want to question him:

  • They might have found the moonshine hidden on his property
  • They might have found the body hidden on his property
  • They might have discovered that the government "tank" on his property was shot up

The first one is perhaps most likely, because we know the police were investigating the moonshine case after they found a lot of liquor in the car in the creek. If that's the case, though, I don't understand the old man's hostility, unless he himself believed they were there for one of the other two reasons.

It could've been the second reason (we already know some kids had found the body before the old man did), but if I recall correctly the body disappeared at some point before the cops came (although I don't think I understand who moved it).

If it were the third reason, which I guess is also likely, why did he respond with such hostility? Surely his crime, in this case, wasn't too egregious? What was the "tank", exactly?


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