Quest Characters In True Grit Essay

1454 words - 6 pages

Catherynne M. Valente once noted, “Funny how "question" contains the word "quest" inside it, as though any small question asked is a journey through briars.” A simple question asked by Mattie Ross in True Grit by Charles Portis, testing the justice being done about her father’s murderer, develops into a quest as a U.S. Deputy Marshal, a Texas Ranger, and bold young girl embark on a journey they will never forget. Throughout their adventure, Mattie Ross, Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf seem to exactly fit the motif of quest characters. Mattie exactly portrays the hero of a quest novel with her determination and courage. Rooster Cogburn, on the other hand, depicts the Wise Old Man given the fact that he possesses important knowledge and acts as a surrogate father. LaBoeuf acts as the helper, because he posses some skills that are needed and help greatly throughout the story. Mattie Ross, Rooster Cogburn and LaBoeuf obtain the many qualities that characterize quest characters.
Throughout the journey, Mattie depicts that she fits into the mold of a quest hero. In most quest novels quest heroes start off their quest by realizing the need for change. In Mattie’s case, the need for change is the fact that nothing is being done toward the arrest of her father’s killer. Mattie is disappointed that when her father was murdered, the U.S. Marshals are not doing anything to imprison Tom Chaney, the man who killed her father. When she approaches the Sheriff she is dismayed to, “...learn how little was being done toward the apprehension of Tom Chaney” (25). Realizing this, Mattie decides to take things into her own hands. She hires Rooster Cogburn, a U.S. Marshall, and decides to go into Choctaw Nation to avenge her father’s death. Another way that Mattie illustrates the hero is that, Quest heroes almost always obtain the courage and determination to follow their goal and go through with the quest. Mattie proves that she does have to drive to follow the officers into the dangerous land of the outlaws. Even when the officers discourage her and tell her to leave, she finds a way to follow them. When getting on the ferry, the have the man operating the boat convinced that Mattie is a runaway from Arkansas. Thinking that they have left her behind, the men continue onto the ferry. Mattie, on the other hand, always needs her way and she pummels the man holding her back, takes the reins of the horse, and crosses the river by herself. Mattie also gets threatened and beat when she does not turn back and leave. LaBeouf takes a stick from the brush and, “ me a couple of sharp licks with the switch” (124). Growing tired of Mattie’s stubbornness, LaBeouf tries to make her leave by whipping her leg with a stick. By putting with this abuse, Mattie proves that she has a very powerful impulse to kill Tom Chaney. Just like other quest characters, Mattie has a call or a herald to this quest. In this case her call is the powerful impulse to make Tom Chaney pay for her...

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