The American West

1215 Words3 Pages

The story of the American West is still being told today even though most of historic events of the Wild West happened over more than a century ago. In movies, novels, television, and more ways stories of the old west are still being retold, reenacted, and replayed to relive the events of the once so wild and untamed land of the west that so many now fantasize about. After reading about the old west and watching early westerns it is amazing how much Hollywood still glorifies the history and myth of the old west. It may not be directly obvious to every one, but if you look closely there is always a hint of the Western mentality such as honor, justice, romance, drama, and violence. The most interesting thing about the Old West is the fact that history and myth have a very close relationship together in telling the story of the West. The relationship between history and myth in the story of the West go hand and hand with each other for the most part. Why? The myth of the West came around just as the history of the West was happening. So a lot of history was often though of as myth and a lot myths were often thought of as actual history. For example, Buffalo Bill was extremely important to the West because he was mythical and historical figure at the same time. There were myths about him that were actually true and there were also myths about him that were made up he made them true. Author Lee Clark Mitchell states in his book, that some writers who wrote westerns such as Stephen Crane confronted "the intersection of history and fiction, fact and legend, without in the end appealing to either at the expense of the other." Also, "refusing to acknowledge that legends are more interesting than history (art, that is, surpassing life); Crane's stories at the same time resist any simple equation of the legendary with the fact itself (art matching life)" (Mitchell). The cowboys of the frontier have long captured the imagination of the American public. Americans, faced with the reality of an increasingly industrialized society, love the image of a man living out in the wilderness fending for himself against the dangers of the unknown. By the end of the 19th century there were few renegade Indians left in the country and the vast expanse of open land to the west of the Mississippi was rapidly filling with settlers.

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