Saturday, August 05, 2006

Mama Don't Let Your Cowboys Grow up to be Babies (or Liberals)

Continuing with our interview, the nosy Sigmund, Carl and Alfred next want to know, “What are your politics, and why?,” and “Why have so many of us lost the will to fight and defend what we value or defend our beliefs? Is there a kind self hatred at work?”

I have answered that first question in so many ways, that I think I’ll refrain from doing so again. My political views are summarized in a couple of posts from last March, Political Seance, Parts One and Two. The rest is commentary, as they say.

As for the second question, I think I’ll try to address it from an angle I haven’t tried before, one that was provoked by Dr. Sanity’s eloquent and moving post yesterday, entitled My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys. If this turns out to be a short post, it’s because I’m thinking this through for the first time, and my thinking may or my not arrive at its appointed destination. In other words, it may go nowhere.

Dr. Sanity writes that “I grew up with cowboys. Not in real life, of course, but on the TV screen. My earliest heroes were those rough, tough shoot-em-up guys whose goal was justice and who seemed oblivious to their own tragic fate as they pursued that justice with single-minded efficiency.”

I can’t summarize, so I’ll just quote her at length: “The cowboy hero of my youth was a simple man who minded his own business and valued his freedom. It would take a lot to stir him up, but once aroused, he was unstoppable. His talk might be drawling or lazy, but not his principles; and the violence which was always there under the surface of his placidity could be called on to defend and protect that which he valued. Then he would ride out into the sunset; his job done, his duty fulfilled.

“He never turned away from what had to be done; and he never cared much for nuance or appeasement. He always understood and accepted the consequences of his actions, not caring if he was liked or loved; but doing what he thought was right, no matter what the cost.

“Today the American cowboy lives on in spirit in many aspects of our society. But if anything, there is even more contempt and anger heaped on him by our modern, cynical, and metrosexual society; who long ago stopped valuing the heroic and sees no need for cowboys in the new age.

“Today, any hint of unsophisticated cowboy heroics or clear talk of right and wrong, good and evil are met with scorn by the spoiled elites of the world, who perceive the modern cowboy as an unwanted anachronism and a genuine liability--his mere existence a frightening threat to the fantasy world of love and peace they have created in their minds.

“Still, it is lucky for us that our modern cowboys in the law and military continue to do what all real cowboys were born to do.

“Zane Gray and many other western authors understood that the only thing standing between civilization and the outlaws who preyed on the innocent were those few cowboys who held to the code of the west. Civilization might hate and despise them for the violence of their methods--but civilization most certainly could not survive without their moral clarity and protection.”

As it so happens, back when I was in film school, we studied various genres, one of which was the western, a form that is as uniquely American as jazz or baseball. I still have some of my old notes, outlining the classic structure of the western film:

1. The hero enters a social group.
2. The hero is unknown to the society.
3. The hero is revealed to have an exceptional ability.
4. The society recognizes differences between themselves and the hero.
5. The society does not completely accept the hero.
6. The villains threaten and eventually do harm to the society.
7. The villains are stronger than the society; the society is weak and ineffectual, unable to defend itself or punish the villains.
8. The hero initially avoids involvement in the conflict.
9. There is a past history, or some kind of symmetry or respect between the hero and villain(s).
10. The villains do something particularly evil or personal to draw the hero in.
11. A representative of the Democratic Party, I mean society, asks the hero to give up his revenge.
12. The hero fights the villains.
13. The hero defeats the villains.
14. The society is safe.
15. The hero gives up his special status, the society accepts the hero, and the hero enters society.

I remember as a kid, seeing the film True Grit, the one for which John Wayne received an Oscar. On the surface, it is only a mediocre film, but I saw it again on TV a few years back, and I remember being extremely impressed with what I realized was an entirely allegorical plot that touches in some way on most of the elements described above. I’ll just hit a few highlights.

The film begins with 14-year-old Mattie Ross looking for someone to hunt down the man who killed her father and bring him to justice. Initially the straight-laced and annoyingly sanctimonious Mattie wants to work within the system, and repeatedly makes reference to her fancy lawyer, who you might say is analogous to the entirely ineffectual UN, or to “international law.” Mattie could have had her pick of lawmen, but in the end chooses the aging Cogburn for the job, because she believes he possesses “true grit.”

Interestingly, Cogburn is depicted as someone who is entirely on the fringes of society--actually, beyond the fringe. Like Presidents Bush or Reagan, he would never be accepted by the elite and effete standard-bearers of society. While not a criminal, he is also not a member of society. In fact, he is a fat, one-eyed drunk who lives with a cat and a “chinaman,” playing cards all day. The obvious message is that society, in order to protect itself, may have to rely upon slightly unsavory people who are not properly members of it--violent and “uncivilized” men who care much more about freedom, honor and justice than mere law and order.

Cogburn’s exceptional ability is revealed during a drunken rant, when he pulls his gun and blows away a hungry rat in the far corner of the room. Mattie hires him to catch the killer, Tom Chaney, but only in order to bring him back alive so that he can be properly tried. As a typical liberal, she wants this to be a police action, not a war. For his part, Cogburn has no interest whatsoever in the legal system or in bringing Chaney back alive. He is his own justice system--in fact, he represents justice as such, and will be just as happy to blow Chaney away and be done with it.

An interesting father-daughter dynamic develops between Mattie, who represents law, and Cogburn, who represents primordial, pre-civilized justice. At first, there is even a pronounced gender confusion in the tomboy Mattie, who has a brittle sort of compensatory pseudo-masculinity symbolized be a ridiculously oversized and impractical gun that is "all for show," like the French army.

The transformational moment occurs in the plot when Mattie is captured by Chaney. I forget how, but she somehow falls into a snake pit, which obviously represents the underworld, or hell. In short, she suddenly finds herself in a dangerous and deadly place that is completely outside the illusory safety of society. Rooster--and only Rooster--can save her, by descending into hell and snatching her out. Sort of like a psychoanalyst, only with guns.

Here again, the allegory is clear. Only a complete man, someone who has “one foot in hell”--who knows the territory--is capable of going into hell and battling the demons. Only ShrinkWrapped can save us!

After Rooster pulls Mattie out, he has to make a mad dash back to civilization in order to get her medical assistance. Symbolically she has died, and Rooster’s regenerative act will be to bring her back to society, where she will be healed and “reborn.” In so doing, he replaces her worldly father and becomes the true father of her higher self--a self that is no longer naive, but integrates abstract law with the dirty reality of worldly justice.

For his part, Rooster is reborn as a father instead of the drunken bachelor who lives on the outskirts of society. The conclusion of the film takes place in the family burial ground, where Mattie has set aside a plot for Rooster, right next to her’s. The brutal and uncivilized Rooster is not only integrated into society, but has a place in eternity as well. How fitting.

So, where does this leave us? What was the question? Oh yes, “Why have so many of us lost the will to fight and defend what we value or defend our beliefs? Is there a kind self-hatred at work?”

Yes, there is surely "white guilt" and self-hatred on the part of the Left, which is not even as mature as Mattie in the beginning of the film. At least she wants justice. If she were a leftist, the film would end with her realizing that Chaney had killed her father because he was poor and her father was wealthy. She would realize her own guilt, and campaign to prevent Chaney from being hanged.

At least Mattie, like some Democrats, wanted to bring the killer to justice. But as the film unfolds, her naiveté is replaced by hard-won insight into the human condition, specifically, into the implacable nature of human evil. In the end, she can only be saved by the man who lives outside the pleasant and comfortable illusions of society, who has one foot in both camps, who is basically good but who has no self-deception about the heart of darkness within man.

Rooster has no pretensions about human beings. Before you can have a civilization, before you can have a justice system, before you can have peace, you must have the will and the capacity for raw, barbaric violence. Because if you won’t do it, someone else will have to do it for you--or to you. You can be a spiritually decadent pacifist, but only because there is a freedom-loving, civilized barbarian with a mailed fist watching your wimpy liberal Euro ass. Behind every thousand or so feckless liberal castrati is a man with true grit. And we want terrorists and their enablers to scratch their heads and never stop asking, "why does this gritty bastard hate us so?"

We'll close things out with a little tune. Glen? Glen Campbell? You wanna come on up? Good deal! Boy howdy folks, Glen Campbell live on the One Cosmos Frontierland Bandstand in Branson Missouri!

One day, little girl,
The sadness will leave your face,
As soon as you've won the fight
To get justice done.
Someday little girl,
You'll wonder what life's about,
But other's have known,
Few battles are won alone.
So, you'll look around to find
Someone who's kind,
Someone who is fearless like you.
The pain of it
Will ease a bit
When you find a man with true grit

One day you will rise,
And you won't believe your eyes,
You'll wake up and see,
A world that is fine and free.
Though summer seems far away,
You'll find the sun one day


Sal said...

"Many people who undertake a spiritual practice--apparently some more than others--are subject to all sorts of sometimes bewildering (and not always pleasant) physical sensations and experiences."

The classical Christian spiritual masters give anyone who *wants* to have 'signs and wonders' in their lives a good hard smack upside the head - that is NOT something you deliberately go looking for.
Because it is disorienting and possibly unpleasant and almost always problematical.

Fascinating post re: the Western.
Looks like some Westerns, then, might not really be 'Westerns', but another one of the Stories, just set in the West. "Stagecoach", eg. would actually be a "lifeboat" or "group journey" story and not the best Western ever made. Darn.

Gagdad Bob said...

According to my class notes, Stagecoach is a variation. My notes indicate that there is "the classical plot" (e.g., Shane), the "vengeance variation" (e.g., One-Eyed Jacks) and the "professional plot" (e.g., Rio Bravo, The Wild Bunch, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid).

Nagarjuna said...

I enjoyed your analysis of True Grit. I found myself thinking of "Shane," which closely follows your outline of the classic structure of the Western film except, perhaps, for the last element. Not only did Shane ride away at the end, but it seems to me that many if not most Western heroes end up doing as Shane did rather than joining society.

I agree that "right" and "wrong" and genuine justice may not always coincide with the law. But what should we do about this? Ignore the law--local, state, federal, and international--when it conflicts with our (or George Bush's) personal sense of right and wrong or justice? Should we have Ellie Nesslers, lynch mobs, "Magnum Forces," and their international equivalents roaming the land dispensing their own brands of perceived justice?

At the expense of branded by some as an effete, wishy-washy liberal, I think this is a difficult issue with no easy answers one way or the other.

The Bunnies said...

My personal favorite western that fits into your theme is Pale Rider. Kind of ironic that Clint's character was known as "The Preacher."

Anyhow, I've spent quite a bit of time in Europe, and it only recently hit me that I think I've met only one Western European who seemed to have any True Grit, and he was a Belgian for crying out loud.

I'm hoping beyond hope that either the Euros with any cojones just never came my way, or that hidden deep within at least a few of the metrosexuals is a Gene or Roy just waiting for the right chance to blast his way onto the scene.

But I'm not counting on it.

Hoarhey said...

Thanks Bob for pointing out the fact that while feminist society derides testosterone in all its forms, there is a virtuous masculinity that civilization always cries out to save it when it finds itself in over its head as a result of capitulation and appeasement.
And let me make a little prediction relating to the prophesy of the geniuses at Time Magazine in all their giddyness. The "End of Cowboy Diplomacy" if that is indeed true will actually spell the "End of Western Civilization". Thank God for that one in one thousand willing to see things as they are and make a stand.
My own personal favorite Western, where the libs actually had to pay a price for their cowardice and have it rubbed in their faces, was High Plains Drifter with Clint Eastwood.

Joan of Argghh! said...

If we don't know where we're going, all roads lead there.

The law is supposed to be a roadmap to justice and without it, we can imagine all sorts of our own preferences to be the correct way to arrive there.

However, justice is still the destination. Our beings crave the True-ness of Justice and we know what it is when we see it. It's where we want to be and why we set out the laws... to point the way for others.

Nowadays, too many liberals want to argue over the roadmap's format and colors without answering the question of, "But, where are we going? Can we get there from here?"

"Nevermind that," they say, "just build another road, and we'll wait and put it on our beautiful map." They think the roadmap is justice, and begin to exalt the map over the destination. The latest fixation is on Red and Blue states, apparently.

Must be why Bob is an off-roader.

Gagdad Bob said...

What would Clint say to Kofi Annan? "You may be a secretary but you're no general. You're a diplomaggot who sees to it that evil flourishes in plain sight."

Jamie Irons said...

Dear Bob,

Let me just say that I find your site one of the most valuable on the Internet (right up there with Roger Simon and The Belmont Club, sites that are valuable in an entirely different way).

Your sense of humor, too, is priceless.

In a previous incarnation you must have been a Zen master.

Jamie Irons

Gagdad Bob said...

Excuse me. "Previous?"

will said...

>>"15. The hero gives up his special status, the society accepts the hero, and the hero enters society." <<

Well, hmm . . . let me think . . . from what I remember, the hero is at least accorded the special status of being needed during times of trouble. Society comes around to acknowledge that the hero's skills in violence, albeit at odds with its notion of "civilization", do come in handy when the nit gets true gritty. But the hero never really enters society; he's never really domesticated. He's something apart from society, which evidently finds his presence a bit unnerving. I cite Shane riding off at that film's conclusion, also John Wayne refusing to enter the family house in the final shot of The Searchers. Also, Clint E's disappearance at the end of Unforgiven, this after he violently cleanses the town of the baddies. Also, the Magnificent Seven (the most lyrical Western screenplay EVER, in my view) in which the two main heroes McQueen and Brynner ride away from the town which they have successfully defended, Brynner commenting that, "We lost. We always lose." (whoa, I get chills)

Anyway, point being that the most iconographic of Western directors (Ford, Hawks) seemed to isolate the hero and his special skills from civilization. While clearly placing the hero in the good-guy camp, they drew a distinct parallel between the hero and the villain, one that would not allow the hero to ever be at home with the notion of nonviolent civilization and versa visa. The hero seems to constitute an un-assimilatable "warrior class". Reading this in broader terms, it would seem to suggest that our (collective and individual) lower energies can be sublimated for higher purpose, that the same base instinct energy that allows for uncivilized behavior is the same energy that, once re-channeled, can elevate the spirit to a civilization-saving mode of consciousness. In other words, there is a thin line between sinner and saint, but it's a very distinct line.

But what about Deadwood?

Gagdad Bob said...


Yes, the template is just a model, so there are probably more films that deviate from it than there are that follow it. I'm thinking of Blazing Saddles, for example, which includes a show tune performed by what Slim Pickens would refer to as "a bunch of Kansas City faggots."

But I think there's something profoundly true about what you say--the hero can never really be integrated into society. He has seen too much, is always emotionally wounded, and is out somewhere beyond good and evil.

will said...

BTW, how's this for irony? The film most replete with Western iconography, at least that I've ever seen, is a sci-fi comedy: Back To The Future 3.

It's got everything - Indians, calvery, bar scenes,night town party-dance,the "civilized outsider" reluctant to fight, train robbery, draw-down on main street. All put together very well, too.

MikalM said...

Dr. Bob,

Here's a classic example of the pattern you cited, albeit in a sci-fi/dystopian setting: THE ROAD WARRIOR (AKA MAD MAX II). When I first saw it, I was struck by how close the basic plot followed SHANE, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, and many other classic Westerns. I suppose to Aussies, their still-untamed Outback is the equivalent of a frontier, and ON THE BEACH gave The Land Down Under a post-apocalyptic mythos in which to set fables of human nature.

Van said...

I think that the real tragedy of the Western Heroes, like the John Wayne & Jimmy Stewart characters in my favorite "The Man who Shot Liberty Valance" (I get into the act on my blog - what a shameless plug), is that they never come to realize that in fact their bursts of violence did NOT violate their codes, or societies or of Justice, they never realize that in fact they touched the living truths of their codes more fully than anyone else was willing to.

Jimmy Stewart's character, the more introspective of the two, manages some realization of this, but Wayne's - the true Cowboy - never does. And the rest of the people, represented by the newspaper man who says "... When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.", never do.

The Horizontal etchings that make up our laws and codes, is but the attempt to freeze the Vertical into this plane as best as possible, but those moments which differ in sharp relief from the normal, require a Conceptual, Vertical, grasp of Justice, and actively applying it to THIS contextual moment in time requires an independent, mature mind, willing not only to judge, but to be both faithful to reality, and responsible within it, for his decisions. Enter the Western Hero.

When events push the Western Hero to the boundaries of the written law, as it's etched into the Horizontal, he is driven upwards into the Vertical, and he brings that fuller understanding crashing down in wrath upon the Bad Guy. The character of the Western Hero, is that of someone of few spoken words, but who deeply understands the Vertical unspeakable meaning of Justice - and the need to see it done, no matter what the Horizontally written rules may say.

Few people grasp that, and unfortunately, the Hero least of all. He only knows from deep in his soul, he must do what he knows is right, even though it often means moseying on down the trail afterwards.

By the way, Pale Rider (another favorite) was a remake of Shane.

Connecticut Yankee said...

Sometimes I think that the heroes of our favorite Westerns are just reincarnations of El Cid and Roland. I suppose that those two epics aren't taught in college-level Spanish or French courses any longer because the heroes are fighting Muslims, after all, and that ain't PC.

What made me think of the medieval epics was the theme song from Have Gun, Will Travel-- Richard Boone's character was "a knight without armor in a savage land."

PSGInfinity said...

Die Hard strikes me as a similar movie. A Post-Western hero film, if you will...

will said...

Yank, I think you're right that Roland and El Cid and a whole host of epic heroes "reincarnated" in the Western hero. But as in any upwardly mobile reincarnation, the hero changes, becomes different, more spiritually cognizant. It would take a scholar to qualify this, but I suspect the Western hero - obviously suited to the American temperament and character - is distinctly more of an individual than are the epic heroes. That individuality would imply more self-awareness, less capacity to be blindly moved by social forces, thus more spiritual responsibility.

gumshoe1 said...

i think the mistake is
the idea that the Hero is like a deus ex machina(or that that is what's desirable ie: "to be rescued")

clearly the Hero *is* a rare individual(and that is part of the Tragedy too,isn't it?)

a individual who *can* act
in the face of Fear,Evil,Tragedy,Fate...

but the message of these stories...the thirst for Justice
...comes from the knowledge that that same heroic quality is hidden or dormant in us all.
the Tragedy is that it doesn't emerge.

in other words,the damage is done by thinking of the hero as

the hero "disappears"
declining to be "integrated into society" not because he "is better than" or "too good for" society... (OR she ...see the "Hot Chicks of the IDF" 'photo essay' for examples) ...but because the
curtain has closed on the passion play,the lesson has been re-taught(if not re-learned), ...society and he *can* now afford to allow The Heroic to fade away once again...

the hero/heroine represents an aspect of society both necessary and,hopefully *rare*..

the Hero rises to meet Tragedy.

...even if The Tragedy is simply the fear and lack of courage we all harbor.

and Hope is not something to be taken lightly,nor denigrated.

without it,the future and "growth" of the society only proceeds by
subtraction: ie violence.

constant violence.

with the hero's appearance and departure,there is the return of Hope...if he never departs,
there is only Dependence.

so the Hero "appears" when society needs him/her,and "disappears"
when the need fades.

but of course the need never fully goes away, and neither do the "hidden" heros and heroines.

they may inhabit far flung parts of the landscape(outer or inner),but what context do they exist in,except that of human society?


Van said...

Connecticut Yankee - oh yeah, Richard Boone, Paladin!

I came along too late (1960) to catch them in first run, but "Have Gun Will Travel", "Rawhide!", "Maverick", "The Virginian", "Bounty Hunter", "The Rifleman" they made up re-run heaven when I was a kid.

"...our favorite Westerns are just reincarnations of El Cid and Roland." I think you're right, they don't teach them in school anymore (but you'd be amazed how many people still find them on their own in used bookstores or download them for free from places like, but you may be right, in that Heroes are reincarnated from generation to generation - whether they are taught or not. And even if the story tellers do try their best to hide the hero, as in the campy "Batman!" TV series, there's something about them that kids still pick up on - personally all the campiness and mocking of the heroic in that show were totally and completely lost on me and my friends; all we saw were Good Guys standing up for what was right and taking down the Bad Guys. Whamo!

Joseph Campbell thought that all Heroes lived some variation of the same cycle - if I remember right it was something like: unique birth with special yet hidden parentage, enforced humble circumstances in youth, taken under wing by a wise old mentor, then bursting forth in all his glory to defeat a colossal menace, later suffers a betrayal and even a fall from grace, but is ultimately redeemed and dies or otherwise exits in glory.

While I think that there is something to that, it always seemed to me to be only a little bit removed from saying that all stories have a Beginning, then there comes a Middle, and then... finally... (wait for it)... an End!

But one thing I have noticed that is seemingly common to all Heroes whether in Westerns, Sword & Sandal epics, Knights or Space Opera's - whether their character is outgoing or withdrawn, cocky or humble, whether in the written word, on stage or film - when that line has been crossed that marks the end of the approved Horizontal limits and the only direction they can resort to is Up - in some way there is communicated an unblinking glint of iron in the eye, a set to the carriage of their head (where did the phrase "level Headed" come from?), and they exude the sense of an unwavering onslaught pouring through them from all the powers of heaven & earth suddenly.

I suppose it is that, that is "True Grit", and while it may be to generalizing, ala Campbell, it does seem to be the Core Trait amongst Heroes from Achilles, Heracles, Antigone, Samson, Beowulf, the Celt's Cuchulain or Arthur, Roland, Wyatt Earp, et al - the unwillingness tolerate Evil masquerading as "Authority" to trespass over what everyone recognizes to be the true limits of Justice, but which only he is willing to break the false restraints of the "rules", to do what is Right as opposed to what is allowed.

The Heroes wardrobe, mannerisms & makeup may change to match the ideals of the generation, but at the core he's always the same, pointing past the rules towards what is True and Good.

Van said...

Gumshoe1 said
"...comes from the knowledge that that same heroic quality is hidden or dormant in us all...the Tragedy is that it doesn't emerge... ...society and he *can* now afford to allow The Heroic to fade away once again... the hero/heroine represents an aspect of society both necessary and,hopefully *rare*... the Hero rises to meet Tragedy...even if The Tragedy is simply the fear and lack of courage we all harbor. "

I think you've nailed it there. The Hero must rise out of the ordinary life when Justice is not being served by society, put things right, then fade back into the ordinary routine of life. The most recent real life examples of the cycle might be the 'Greatest Generation' returning from WWII, dropping their rifles and picking up clipboards, pens & blue collars to go back to work.

Jimmy J. said...

The Western is the story writ small of the need a law abiding society has for someone who can stand up to evil doers.

This statement: "Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." George Orwell (with a nod to the Mudville Gazette) Kinda says it all.

Unlike the Western where it is a lone wolf, outsider who saves the day, in times like these it is the soldiers, marines, and airmen who stand on the ramparts protecting society. They are not mysterious or romantic figures like the cowboy. Instead they are young men and women from every walk of life who, like Rooster Cogburn, know that someone has to have the "True Grit" to stand up to those who would prey on peace-loving people.

The ending, however, is still the same. When the fighting is over the members of the armed forces fade away into the sunset (forgotten by society) until their services are needed again.

Bill Whittle (Eject! Eject! Eject) quoted another writer (sorry I can't remember his name) about the make up of society by pointing out that some people are wolves, most people are sheep, and then there are the sheep dogs. The sheep dogs are the ones who willingly protect the sheep from the wolves. Those who walk into the recruiting stations or serve on police forces or in fire departments represent the sheep dogs in society. God bless them and may we be more aware of just how valuable they are to a law abiding society.

gumshoe1 said...

great call on that
Wolf/Sheepdog/Sheep article.

i've read it before and it fits this thread to a "T".

maybe i can find a link.

here 'tis:
Eject! Eject! Eject!:"TRIBES"

larwyn said...

All I wanted to be went I was little was a cowgirl.
The radio "Lone Ranger" was my favorite, my love. My darling Uncle helped me send for all the Lone Ranger stuff I think "cheerios" offered. He was shot on a Friday. I cried and prayed and lit candles for him on Saturday and Sunday.
Just read the Wolcott piece, telling that he's picked quotes of yours regarding "heroes". Bet he never wanted to be a cowboy.

snowonpine said...

This discussion puts me in mind of a quote from my law school professor, Dr. Dorian Gray. After a string of case summaries in which the plaintiffs were, one by one, body slammed by the law or the organized Bar, one of my fellow first year students objected on the basis that the outcomes were obviously immoral and unjust. Dr. Gray looked at the student with weary contempt and said, "this is a law school, we teach law here, not morality. If you are so concerned with morality, go across the street (at Villa Nova University) and cry on the shoulder of one of the brothers over there.

This quote was one of the reasons that I decided I wanted to look myself in the mirror each day and bailed.

Gandalin said...

Sad to say, I have never seen the movie "True Grit."

But I have read the book.

Which is highly to be recommended.

It is one of the 5 lapidary novels of Charles Portis.

It may be that the movie differs from the book, but in the book, Mattie appears to choose Rooster, at least at first, because he is a killer.

She wants her father's killer brought to justice, because she wants him to hang for killing her father, and not for any other of his crimes.