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In the movie The Man Who Shot LIberty Valance, does Ransom Stoddard compromise himself...

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thi-dallas | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted October 6, 2013 at 10:48 PM via web

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In the movie The Man Who Shot LIberty Valance, does Ransom Stoddard compromise himself in the film? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM (Answer #1)

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Ransom Stoddard does, indeed, compromise himself in the film The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance when he abandons his principles and calls Liberty out into the street, and when he fails to admit that it has not been his bullet that kills Valance and he achieves fame after this legendary act. 

  • When he arrives in Shinbone in order to establish a law practice, his plans are foiled by the stage coach robber, Liberty Valance. Having been severely beaten and robbed, Stoddard must heal and pay back his debts. So, he works as a waiter after he heals.
  • Stoddard believes in justice under the law, not by might. However, he secretly purchases a gun and practices shooting.
  • After Tom Doniphon confronts him about Hallie being his girl and shoots a can of paint that splatters on him, Stoddard punches Doniphon in the jaw. His use of physical action as a response is beneath the dignity of the defender of justice that he purports to be.
  • When Stoddard hears that newspaper editor-publisher Dutton Peabody has been severely beaten by Valance and his gang because he has written articles condemning Valance in his bid to represent the cattlemen's association in the territory, Stoddard abandons his ideal of justice under the law and challenges Valance to come out into the street.

Valance: You got two hands, Hashslinger.
Pick it up!

All right, dude...
this time, right between the eyes.

Flyod: lt's Liberty! He's hurt!
lt's Liberty!

  • Stoddard knows it was not his shot that killed Valance, but he never reveals the truth until years later when he comes with his wife Hallie to the funeral of Tom Doniphon. Much of his success has been due to his legendary fame as "the man who shot Liberty Valance," so he has achieved success based upon a false premise, not justice.

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