All the Pretty Horses bears the signs of various influences. In John Grady Cole we may catch sight of the long shadow of the Virginian; get a glimpse of Natty Bumppo; hear more than an echo of the voice of Huck Finn. And one mustn’t forget Holden Caulfield, skirting dissolutely around the edges of the text. Like Holden, John Grady’s spiritual alienation comes into focus with a death. But John Grady is a complex character, one who does more than share psychic space with any number of possible protagonists. In this essay I will argue that the character of John Grady Cole in All the Pretty Horses has much to do with the figure of the medieval knight, and specifically that paragon of the genre, Sir Gawain, as he is depicted in the eponymous fourteenth-century poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The knight errant is a character whose motivations exist largely in the realm of the idealistic and illusory, formed in feudal patriarchy. John Grady’s similarity to this traditional character in chivalric quest literature is obvious, and has been discussed by Charles Bailey in a paper first presented at the 1998 colloquy of the Cormac McCarthy Society in El Paso, Texas. Briefly, Bailey suggests that the All the Pretty Horses is based upon medieval chivalric romances. He sees John Grady in terms of the questing knight errant; Alejandra as the unobtainable lady; the cuchillero in Saltillo as the traditional evil adversary. However, I would like to argue that not only does John Grady embody many of the attributes of the medieval knight errant, he also resembles a very specific one: Sir Gawain. Intertextual studies are problematic if one is seeking to prove an intentional link between texts, and clearly, there is no way of knowing whether McCarthy had Sir Gawain and the Green Knight in mind when writing All the Pretty Horses. But congruencies exist between the texts, which suggest that both works are dealing with themes which are paradigmatic, and indeed may reflect similar historical milieus. It is the issue of parallel structures suggesting archetypal themes with which I am most concerned.