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Myths and Heroes : how does the cowboy embody American values ?

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Par   •  5 Juin 2020  •  Synthèse  •  770 Mots (4 Pages)  •  613 Vues

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Myth and Heroes

Today I’m going to deal with the notion of Myths and Heroes. A myth is a traditional story concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or a social phenomenon. It involves supernatural beings. A hero is a person with supernatural abilities who is admired for his courage and his achievements. Today, a hero is a person who helps other people. To illustrate this notion I will talk about cowboys. Indeed cowboys are related to the idea of myths and heroes because a cowboy is an American figure who is considered as a hero. He is also a hand who cares for cattle in a ranch. This leads me to wonder how does the cowboy embody American values? So first we will ponder on the heroic cowboy figures. Then I’m going to focus on cowboy values and finally I will tackle the way they are breaking stereotypes.

        In the first place, cowboys are heroic figures. Indeed, there are the mythic heroes: the lonesome cowboy, the sheriff, the outlaw. For instance, we have studied a picture taken from the movie « Appaloosa » which is a western film. The characters we can see on this picture are the sheriff and a cowboy who is the bad one. The cowboy is wearing a suit, a  stetson, boots with spurs. He also has a gun, a riffle and a lasso. You can always tell by the star that is pinned on his shirt. He embodies authority and has to enforce law and order. He embodies the values of American people and his job is to protect them. He is proud to fight for these values. So, he is a patriot. He is a hard worker, riding his horse all day long to secure the village he is responsible of. The image shown in Western film represents the mythic vision of the cowboy. This part of American history, the conquest of the West, has been turned into a myth whose hero is strong, brave, fearless and lonely. Yet, real life contradict these cliches.


        Actually, cowboys follow ethics based on religious principles called the Protestant work ethic. The main values expressed by this philosophy are hard work, determination, solidarity/brotherhood and thriftiness. To illustrate this idea I will refer to a video entitled « The Texas Longhorn Ranch » which is a testimony of a rancher family who is talking about its life. In this video we learn that they take care of their livestock daily. They work as a family, only an intern who works with them is not part of the family. This one explains what he learnt in addition to the rotation of the grass, he also learnt respect and discipline. One of the cowboys, Joe, describe the rancher’s philosophy. He explained you better not be concerned by becoming a millionaire. In addition to this, they are really hard-working, they spare no pain. Breeding cows needs a lot of strength and courage. Team spirit, work, discipline and respect are their basic values. They have a strong attachment to family values and deep regard for nature. Indeed working in a ranch is not only a job but a lifestyle for people passionate about what they do. So, obviously, when you work in a farm, you do not become rich but you earn your life comfortably.


        Finally, cowboys break stereotypes. Effectively, contrary to what people think, cowgirls do exist. For example, we’ve seen a photo showing cowboys and cowgirls. In fact it just depicts real life. They are branding cows with a hot iron. So, as to do this job you need to be brave even if you have learnt your job and you have skills for it and you need to be strong. However this does not prevent women from doing this job. In real life, women have an active role in the work at the farm. Moreover, in contrast to the mythic lonesome cowboy, working on a ranch as a cowboy is a team work. On the same picture, in the background, two people are sitting on the fence. Workers help each other. This picture debunks the clichés.


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