Essay about The Cowboy Figure

Essay about The Cowboy Figure

Length: 1458 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

The Cowboy Figure


The figure of the cowboy is prominent, not only in America’s history, but also in contemporary society. The cowboy has always been regarded as the epitome of freedom, machismo and individuality, and his character maintains a certain romantic quality about it. Riding the range with his trusty horse, forging the frontier, and exposing himself to the mercy of the wilderness, the cowboy lives for himself alone and yet he lives the life about which the rest of society can only fantasize. The cowboy, fearless hero of the West, has become a cultural icon. One literary critic, Sara Spurgeon, sums up the cowboy fantasy by saying that:

the figure of the cowboy personifies America’s most cherished myths--combining ideas of American exceptionalism, Manifest Destiny, rugged individualism, frontier democracy, and communion with and conquest of the natural world…The icon of the sacred cowboy is one of our potent national fantasies, viable in everything from blue jeans to car commercials to popular films. (79)

The question that remains, then, is why the cowboy figure is so appealing. How has he survived in the age of industrialization and technology? Perhaps the cowboy represents what is pure and untamed, and is a model on which to base a longing for a purer time in history and a more authentic, animalistic, and natural existence in the world.

As Spurgeon points out, the cowboy figure is most often associated with freedom, self-reliance, and individualism. These virtues are the main components of the American dream; they are the things that every American supposedly aspires toward. The space of the cowboy is not defined by borders or fences, but in fact it is defined by the absence of them; he is lord of...


... middle of paper ...


...nt day. The public seems quite content to ignore the historical facts and focus on the fantasy, using the cowboy as a romantic foundation on which to project their longings and innermost desires.

Bibliography and Works Cited


Jarrett, Robert L. Cormac McCarthy. New York: Twayne, 1997.

Lambert, Neal E. “Freedom and the American Cowboy.” Brigham Young University Studies 8 (1967): 61-71.

McCarthy, Cormac. Blood Meridian. New York: Vintage International, 1992.

Pearson, Demetrius W., & C. Allen Haney. “The Rodeo Cowboy as an American Icon: The Perceived Social and Cultural Significance.” Journal of American Culture. Bowling Green: Winter 22, 4 (1999): 17-21.

Spurgeon, Sara L. “‘Pledged in Blood’: Truth and Redemption in Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses.” Cormac McCarthy. Ed. Harold Bloom. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2002. 79-94.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Personal Experience: An Accident and a Cowboy, The Horse Essay

- ... I tightly turned him around, sure of myself I would get back to the mainroad. We started towards the main road, when Cowboy spooked. I didn’t know what he spooked about, so I made him keep going at a slow pace. As we were gladly about twenty feet from the main road, I saw a dark figure. Without seeing his face, he pulled something from his pocket. He was still looking at us through the narrow passage of bushes and dirt, where I was. He pulled a gun. I felt faint and I thought for sure I was going to pass out....   [tags: ER, hospital, survival, pain]

Powerful Essays
1832 words (5.2 pages)

The Myth And Reality Of The Cowboy Shaped Today 's Definition Of Masculinity

- The myth and reality of the cowboy shaped today’s definition of masculinity because they have this high and strong stature they need to uphold. Masculinity is having the traditional acts as a man, such as being strong and secure. In today’s word man and women have two different mindsets. Even though we are all humans, our gender defines the way we should act due to how society makes it. The myth has affected males physically, emotionally and mentally. The idea is that they are supposed to act accordingly....   [tags: Man, Boy, Male, Gender]

Powerful Essays
1979 words (5.7 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of The Poem ' Ceremony '

- Ceremony is about a Native American Tayo who fought in world war two. When he comes home from the war, he is committed to the VA hospital for essentially having post-traumatic stress disorder. Throughout the novel, we observe Tayo battling with his inner peace because he feels guilty for Josiah and Rocky’s death. Tayo’s family sends him to two medicine men to try to heal him and figure out what is the matter. The first medicine man was not able to reach through to Tayo; the second medicine Betonie was successful....   [tags: Cowboy, Cattle, Woman, Fence]

Powerful Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Analysis Of The Poem ' Ceremony ' Essay

- Ceremony was written about a Native American Tayo who fought in world war two. When he comes home from the war, he is committed to the Veterans Administration Hospital for having post-traumatic stress disorder. Throughout the novel, we observe Tayo battling with his inner peace by virtue of, feeling guilt for Josiah and Rocky’s death. Tayo’s family sends him to two medicine men to try to heal him and figure out what is the matter. The first medicine man was unable to reach through to Tayo; the second medicine Betonie was successful....   [tags: Cowboy, Cattle, Fence]

Powerful Essays
1115 words (3.2 pages)

The Myth Of Cowboys And The Cowboy Essay

- The myths surrounding cowboys have been around long before there were ever any actual cowboys. However, they weren’t used in regards to cowboys, but for knights in the medieval period. In that time period knights were seen as the brave, chivalric heroes that came to the damsel’s rescue; just like cowboys on TV today. Historians say that the cowboy myths were started because they embodied American values and represented the ideal American: brave, strong, and most importantly white. In books and on television, the cowboy is seen as a tall, white, handsome, womanizer who could take on anybody that challenged him....   [tags: Cowboy, Ranch, Livestock branding, Buffalo Bill]

Powerful Essays
1016 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about The Life Of An American Cowboy And The Harsh Realities Behind

- The Life of an American Cowboy and the Harsh Realities Behind Like my friend Justin said, “I just want to be a cowboy and do cowboy shit like punch cows, stomp Broncs…” People like myself will be the future of the food industry. As the world population continues to grow the need of ranchers providing beef is in higher demand and harder to find. Studies show that only 2% of the population supplies food for the entire population. If you like to eat, the number of ranchers needs to increase. Within the whole world only 37% of the land is used for agriculture purposes, 11% of the 37% of land is used for crops....   [tags: Cowboy, Ranch, Cattle, Nutrition]

Powerful Essays
938 words (2.7 pages)

The Perception Of The Cowboy Essay

- Terms such as “Political Cowboys” and “Cowboy diplomacy” are often used in news reports, and to a lesser extent academia to describe the antics of particular politicians or approaches to policy in the United States and sometimes even at an international level. The Cowboy image is inherently linked to American society. It permeates every aspect of it including politics and is propagated through multiple media platforms, including: Hollywood productions, the music industry, and various forms of literature and print media....   [tags: George W. Bush, President of the United States]

Powerful Essays
2208 words (6.3 pages)

Essay on The Black Cowboy

- Unique to the United States, the Old West wields a powerful influence on the American imagination that can still be seen in numerous aspects of the nation’s culture, such as clothing lines and movies. Unfortunately, as is the case with most other periods, historic acknowledgement of African Americans’ contributions to the West is still not complete. Only recently, within the last few decades, have American scholars and the film industry earnestly begun to correct this period in regards to African Americans....   [tags: old west, african americans, equality, cowboys]

Powerful Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

Fall of Man Depicted in Atwood's Backdrop Addresses Cowboy Essay

- Fall of Man Depicted in Atwood's Backdrop Addresses Cowboy The sexual politics of the man-woman relationship, or more specifically the sexual exploitation of women by men, is a clear concern in Margaret Atwood's "Backdrop Addresses Cowboy." Although the oppressor-as-male theme is by no means an original source of poetic inspiration, Atwood's distinction is that she views the destructive man-woman relationship as a metaphor for, symptom and symbol of, bigger things. From the vantage-point of feminine consciousness, Margaret Atwood empahsizes the "backdrop" as being not only the woman, but also the land and the spiritual life of the universe; the "cowboy" is both a man bent on persona...   [tags: Backdrop Addresses Cowboy Essays]

Powerful Essays
1098 words (3.1 pages)

The Puzzling Message of Figure in the Carpet Essay

- The Puzzling Message of Figure in the Carpet At the beginning of "The Figure in the Carpet", the main character considers the criticism of literature to be a career, something he does for money. "I had done a few things and earned a few pence" (p. 357), declares the narrator in the opening line. He says later in the paragraph that having an advanced copy of a prominent novel to review was desirable because it would advance his career: "Öand whatever much or little it should do for his reputation I was clear on the spot as to what it should do for mine." (p....   [tags: Figure in the Carpet Essays]

Free Essays
487 words (1.4 pages)