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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.
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By changing the young boy to a teenager girl, changes how the characters act in the story. Since a girl was used in Pale Rider, more drama heats up between the two. Megan was in love with the Preacher in Pale Rider and therefore there actions were completely different then that of Joey and Shane. As for their age, if Joey had been older, he might have seen Shane differently and might have had more faith in his family, the people who raised him and work hard for a living. If Megan were younger, she would have known that she could never be with the Preacher. She was still a kid, and should act like one.
Both stories were very dramatic in the sense of the stranger and the child. While they seemed very similar, in actuality they were different and the cause of there difference was the young boy Joey and the adolescent girl Megan.