The Resemblance of the True Grit Characters to Those of a Quest Story
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Colin Powell once stated, “A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Powell means that the only path available to achieve a goal, is the one where everyone brings their best characteristics to the table. This describes the characters in a quest story as they all bring their talents and best attributes to accomplish a common goal. Charles Portis’s True Grit is no exception as the three main characters resemble those of a quest story having characteristics that play a big part in achieving their goal. Mattie Ross resembles the quest hero persona, Rooster Cogburn as the wise old man, and Ranger LaBeouf as the hero’s helper and guide.
Mattie Ross possesses the characteristics of a quest novel hero in True Grit. For instance, A hero in a quest novel has a call to their adventure, an awakening of sorts. The call or herald will compel the hero to accomplish a goal. The hero has the impulse to create a dire change, and will do anything to make this change possible. Mattie Ross has this characteristic, making her a quest novel hero. After the tragic death of her father, she travels to Fort Smith, Arkansas, to tend to his business. Upon her arrival, Mattie realizes that the apprehension of her father’s murderer, Tom Chaney, is not the sheriff's first priority. Tom Chaney shoots her father in cold blood and escapes the scene easily as bystanders flee. Not one soul thought to achieve justice and capture the murderer, but instead they selfishly “scattered like poultry” (17) as Chaney escaped. Mattie expected officers would be on his trail immediately after the incident, but she was displeased to learn “how little had been done toward the apprehension of Tom Chaney. They had not even got hi...
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...illed a state senator”(79). He clearly has the information on Chaney as he knows his real name and his past doings. Certainly, LaBeouf is a perfect image of a helper in a quest story.
The main characters in True Grit by Charles Portis resemble the main characters in a quest novel. Mattie Ross resembles the hero as she has a calling to her journey and she has the necessary courage and resolve to accomplish her journey. Rooster Cogburn bears a resemblance to the wise old man figure in a quest novel because he possesses a special arcane knowledge and he poses as a surrogate father to the hero. Ranger Labeouf is the helper because he has a special skill and has a knowledge the wise old man lacks. A true hero does not always have to be a superhero, a wizard, or a good samaritan. Sometimes a true hero does not need magical powers but only a goal, courage, and true grit.