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MonkeyNotes-The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
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The gathering posse is further aroused by the arrival of Ma Grier, the strongest woman of the village. She is determined to ride with the posse and mocks Davies for being too conservative and talking against it. Ma Grier makes it clear that she wants to move 2out quickly, as soon as Bartlett returns with his two sons, Carl and Nate. When Bartlett does arrive, only Carl is with him. Nate has gone to bring Major Tetley, an old Confederate soldier, who can serve as the needed leader of the posse. As they wait on the major, Davies again tries to change the minds of the men, but he is unsuccessful. Judge Tyler also arrives and cannot sway them.

Tetley arrives with his sickly and effeminate son, Gerald. He is forcing him to ride with the posse, hoping the trip will turn him into a man. The major has also brought his handyman, Amigo, who tells the posse that he has seen three rustlers leaving town about four hours earlier with some forty head of stolen cattle. This news excites the posse, and they decide to depart immediately, refusing to rest overnight before heading out. Even though the judge tells Mapes it is illegal, he deputizes the posse. The judge then warns them to bring back the rustlers alive; if they are murdered, the posse will be punished. When the men ride out of town, Art and Gil join them, wanting to be a part of the group. Osgood and Davies stand in the road and watch them depart.

The contrasts continue to build in this second chapter. Much space is devoted to arguments between a formal system of justice, argued by Osgood, Davies, and Tyler, and a more expedient system of justice, argued by Bartlett, Farnley, Smith, and Moore. Art, the narrator, listens to both sides of the story and has difficulty making up his mind which side is correct. Even though he is persuaded by Davies to go and get Judge Tyler, he still wants to be part of the posse so that he can fit in; in other words, what he thinks is in contrast to what he feels.


Another implied contrast in this chapter is between Rose Mapes, the beautiful woman who is run out of town by the other women, and Ma Grier, the strongest woman in town who is cheered by all the men for her desire to join them in the posse. It is interesting to note that Ma Grier openly welcomes Art and Gil, in contrast to the men who have been suspicious of them. Her quick acceptance of them helps them become more a part of the group.

The chapter Clark presents strong arguments on both sides of the issue of the posse, but it is obvious that he really stands behind the rational arguments voiced by Davies. However, the picture that he presents of Bartlett, Smith, and the other proponents of the illegal lynching party is a realistic portrayal of the feelings of the roughnecks on the western frontier.

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