This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

The Western As Commentary About Decaying Values

4097 words - 16 pages

The Western as Commentary about Decaying Values

The Western, as a genre, is subversive of the values that its Christian characters possess. Western films frequently depict social depravity in terms of the mythology that developed during westward expansion. The mythology was inspired by the threat of the frontier wilderness to Puritan culture. In order to preserve their society, some Puritans departed from their ideal Christian lives. Western films portray compromises that cultures make of the values that they define themselves by in order to protect the integrity of their other values.

A contemporary Western, Open Range, which Kevin Costner stars in and directed, released in 1995, deals with a conflict between morality and justice and the genre mythology. In it, Boss Spearman and Charley Waite herd cattle across the Western frontier. When they allow the herd to free-graze in Fort Harmon country, they infuriate a prominent rancher, Baxter, who tells them “Free-grazers ain’t gonna take the feed off my cattle.” A confrontation with Baxter’s henchmen results in them killing one of Boss’ helpers and another, Button, is severely hurt. Boss and Charley are faced with the options either to run away, in which case Button would die, or to risk their lives by entering the town to find him a doctor.

Boss and Charley both are generous to each other, their workers, and people they encounter. Charley is a former Civil War fighter who is trying to escape his past with the guidance of the old, collected cowboy, Boss. Both have clearly been in fights before; however, Charley’s past troubles him in a deeper way than his demeanor suggests. He explains that he first shot a man in the throat who tried to take advantage of his mother when Charley was young.

In the Civil War, he had been part of an elite unit that had orders simply to kill. He tells Boss one evening, “My first skirmish was pretty much like hunting in them woods with my friends. We just sat up in some trees and they came marching right at us. Must’ve been a hundred of them lying dead when the smoke cleared; went around and shot the rest who weren’t.” Charley had joined Boss to leave his dismal past behind him. Baxter’s threat, however, forces both men to evaluate their situation and to decide how to approach it.

An important theme in Open Range is that violence is best avoided when it’s possible to, but that sometimes people must do what is ethical and violence is inevitable. Boss and Charley both know that to take Button to the town’s doctor mean that Baxter will try to kill them. They also know that, ethically and as his friends, they owe Button whatever help they can find, and so they decide to take the risk of visiting the doctor.

A noticeable role inversion occurs following Charley’s story about his past as a solider. Once the inevitability of confrontation is known, his superior skill...

Find Another Essay On The Western as Commentary about Decaying Values

Commentary Regarding American Edition of Erich Maria Remarque´s All Quiet on the Western Front

818 words - 4 pages All Quiet On the Western Front By 1929, the example of Remarque's altered text of All Quiet on the Western Front, as Hemingway pointed out, gave further proof of greater intolerance in America than in England. Aldington's experience with Death of a Hero, however, would prove the exception. This war novel is actually an anti-war novel, tracing the lives and losses of a young group of soldiers caught in the brutality of World War I. Gripping

Commentary on Erich Maria Remarque´s All Quiet in the Western Front

959 words - 4 pages In “all quite on western front,” Erich Maria Remarque tells the a story of six young German men who volunteer in World War I, at the age of eighteen. This novel was published in 1929. Remarque himself fought in World War I, but he only endured one month after obtaining of several injuries. He spent rest of the war in the hospital where he had some realization about the nature of war. This novel is told from the point of view on one young soldier

An argument to support the view that "everything about the play [King Lear] hangs on the first two scenes not just the plot but the values as well."

1465 words - 6 pages of the key events happen. Along with the plot there is alsoextensive amounts of setup that occur within the dialogue which key theaudience in on the morals and values of the characters. Marilyn French iscompletely accurate when she states that 'Everything about the play hangs onthe first two scenes not just the plot but the values as well' (Shakespeare'sDivision of Experience, 226).The opening scenes of King Lear do an immaculate job of setting

Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World as Social Commentary

743 words - 3 pages Carl Sagan's The Demon-Haunted World as Social Commentary        Carl Sagan sums up his view of the basic flaw of man in one phrase: "history reveals that we humans have a sad tendency to make the same mistakes again and again" (Sagan 424). Humans today have an understanding of the world around them that is vastly superior to that of their ancestors. In spite of this, a growing number of people perpetually fail to scrutinize to the degree

"All quiet on the western front" about World War I

908 words - 4 pages "All quiet on the western front" is a very special movie, it emphasizes the brutality of the war and how people are changed by it. The main character is Paul, who is the leader of a group of 19-year-old former university students. As we watch the film we can clearly see how his attitude towards the war and beliefs about the war change from him being proud and enthusiastic to go to the front to him questioning the whole idea of war and just

European Imperialism Consequences for non Western nations, explains the negative and positive things about imperialism for the non-western nations

565 words - 2 pages European Imperialism Consequences for non Western nationsThe motives for imperialism were economic, political, religious, exploratory and ideological. The economic motives included the desire to make money, to expand and control foreign trade, to create new markets for products, to acquire raw materials and cheap labor, to compete for investments and resources, and to export industrial technology and transportation methods. About the political

Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as Commentary on the Failure of Society

737 words - 3 pages Fitzgerald's Corrupt View of Society in The Great Gatsby     "What people are ashamed of usually makes a good story," was said of Fitzgerald's novel, The Great Gatsby. The Great Gatsby is about the American Society at its worst and the downfall of those who attempt to reach its illusionary goals. The idea is that through wealth and power, one can acquire happiness. To get his happiness Jay Gatsby must reach into the past and relive an old

Jan Steen’s Self Portrait in “The Continence of Scipio” as a Social Commentary

2555 words - 10 pages Jan Steen’s Self Portrait in “The Continence of Scipio” as a Social Commentary There is a tremendous difference between a fool and a jester. Fools are regarded as light-hearted, dim-witted, and absent-minded people whose outrageous stupidity amused the rest of the population. These jovial folk represented the lowest in society: too carefree to get ahead in society and too stupid to care. Many people believed that Jan Steen, a prominent and well

Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth as Satirical Commentary on Society

2123 words - 8 pages until it is too late to rescue Lily. Although Lily is ultimately freed from her role in the social system, her fragmented character cannot survive without the machine she depended upon for so long. As Lily's moral self is crystallized her social position and self-worth are shattered.   Then one must wonder about the truth in Selden observation that "she was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her that the links of

The Damaging effects of war: About the war novel "All Quiet on the Western Front"

820 words - 3 pages , "All Quiet on the Western Front". However, these soldiers are forced to do a job slightly more gruesome than that of the mortician. Not only do these soldiers 'work' with dead bodies, but they must also do the killing as well. Even worse, they are faced with other brutalities: constant bombardments on the front lines, pieces of their comrades flying past them, and painful bullet wounds left untreated. Could anything other than a beastly animal

President Kennedy as the Saviour of the Western World After The Cuban Missile Crisis

1956 words - 8 pages President Kennedy as the Saviour of the Western World After The Cuban Missile Crisis On October 22 1962, President Kennedy informed the world, that the Soviet Union was building missile bases in Cuba. Superpower brinkmanship came close to exploding into nuclear war because of these missiles. When Khrushchev finally backed down ,the crisis appeared to have ended victoriously for Kennedy and America. American propaganda

Similar Essays

The Movie Industry And Western Cultural Values

1110 words - 5 pages of the different groups of western and African people in Sierra Leone, thus the issues also use hegemony concepts to define the problem of whites as superior group over the African people, since the movie reflects different aspects of the international environment, it is an appropriate case to speculate about hegemony in films. The Africans are forced in some sense to betray their own people, with the idea that they are in control when in fact

Commentary On A Book About The History Of Egypt

1895 words - 8 pages into the outside world. The Nabians and the Saites have significantly ruled Egypt for about two centuries and are then divided unequally within them. The memories of the Saite dynasty became a refuge of the traditional values to which the Egyptians were significantly able to turn as the yoke of each new invader grew too heavy for their shoulder. Moving on the era of the Persians and Greeks is taken into account. The arrival and the settlement of

Commentary On All Quiet On The Western Front By Erich Maria Remarque

736 words - 3 pages All Quiet on the Western Front is about men going on a very difficult battle. The battle that they go through is World War I. These men volunteered to fight in the war, but they didn’t expect it to be this hard. They face many hardships, including food. Food is hard to find during this time and in this part of the war. Many people died, and the ones that survived had to witness their friends that they met die. Some people in war do not die

Commentary On All Quiet On The Western Front By Erich Remarque

1074 words - 5 pages alone and felt as if nothing else could be taken away from him. He died that same day and it was a very quiet when he died. His face was calm as if he was waiting to die (Page 295-296). This book helped people understand more about World War 1 than what they know before. This book touches a lot of people and it makes people really think about what soldiers went through on a daily basis. “All quiet on the Western Front,” translation is really