In Shane & Pale Rider, changing the boy to an adolescent girl (respectively) had a great effect on the elements of the story. In both stories, each child had a relationship with the stranger, but as we saw, the child's age and sex affected this bond.
In Shane, the boy Joey was first to see the stranger riding over the edge. As he gets closer, Joey is in complete aw by the sights of the stranger Shane. Living on the land with parents that are always working for the family, Shane comes off as a gunslinger, something that Joey has always wanted to be. Throughout the story, Joey is always looking up to Shane, trying to emulate him. He wants to be just like Shane. Shane takes notice of this and plays along as not to upset the boy. He shows Joey how to shoot and to be a good gunner. His parents want Joey to not get too attached to Shane, but as a young boy, he's not intended on listening. When Shane gets into a fight with Starett, Joey becomes mad at Shane and yells to him "I hate you Shane." But when he realizes that Shane was keeping his father safe, he runs after him to apologize. In the closing scene, all Joey can do is to say goodbye to what will become a hero for his family. As Shane never looks back, we can tell that he helped out, but never really cared about Joey.
In Pale Rider, using an adolescent girl change much of the story. Instead of a young boy trying to find a hero, we see a girl Megan looking for a man or husband. As much of the story is the same, a family or group of families in this movie trying to keep their land from others that want to take it. Megan becomes upset that the stranger Preacher says no about marriage to her because she is too young just like Joey from Shane getting upset about the fight his father had. Megan gets terribly upset, and runs off, trying to show everyone that she is grown up. She only gets into trouble, and is mauled by some of the towns people. The stranger though is there to save her, and she regains his trust.