The book takes place in the wild west of Wyoming. The character of the Virginian is introduced in Medicine Bow when on business. While in Medicine Bow he plays cards with a cowboy named Trampas. Trampas accuses the Virginian of cheating to which the Virginian pulls out a gun in the effort to stop the accusations. This causes Trampas to develop a hatred for the Virginian and that’s when their rival began. Throughout the book there is conflict between Trampas and the Virginian eventually leading to the Virginian killing due to a threat that Trampas made toward him.
The next important event in the book is when the Virginian meets Molly Wood, the new school teacher from Vermont civilized society. They eventfully fall in love with each other. Molly has trouble adjusting to the way that they carry out justice in the west but eventually decides that she will adapt to this new society in order to marry the Virginian ...view middle of the document...
Vermont had a system of law already in order that was able to carry out justice. The Virginian, leaving the established society of Virginia at age 14, was already accustomed to the lawless nature of the west. The book clearly shows that justice is a matter of personal judgment where one carries out justice their own way, usually in hangings and shootings.
According to Fr. John Laux’s book, Catholic Morality, Natural Law is “that law which God has written in the heart of man” it is the natural reason in which man distinguishes good from evil. Positive Divine law is the law that god has reveled by supernatural revelation especially in the Old and New Testaments. The differences between the two is that every man has Natural Law deep within their conscience, while Positive Divine Law was given first to the Jews with the Old Testament and then to the Gentiles through the New Testament. Those that have never heard the gospels of Jesus Christ are still governed by the Natural Law of good and evil actions. If a person kills another they know in their hearts that this action is wrong. If someone kills in self-defense, they may feel bad but they know that they had no other choice to preserve their own life.
The characters of Molly and the Virginian exemplify Natural Law by their beliefs and actions in the story. Molly, coming from the east coast where she is used to civilized behavior and a clear moral code, represents Natural Law. She clearly felt that killing was wrong and especially in the case of killing Trampas, she had tried to persuade the Virginian not to kill him but despite her protests he does it anyway. By taking part in this act it is obvious that the Virginian, while perhaps feeling the Natural Law ignores it. Because the Virginian has lived in the lawless west for so long, he has adapted to a more savage way of life, where disagreements and hatred are settled with a gun.
I believe this book did a good job in displaying the differences of the east and the west at the time period. It also was a good example of Natural Law and those who do not follow it. The more you ignore Natural Law the harder it becomes to even have Natural Law, much less follow it.