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A few characteristics concerning the Western in the Zane Grey book Riders of the Purple Sage include:
The typical Western novel goes for unadorned, simple dialogue. Dialogue is not typically festooned with flowery language. An example in Riders of the Purple Sage is this passage, which highlights the plain speech of the day:
“They’re gone!” said Lassiter. “An’ they’re safe now. An’ there’ll never be a day of their comin’ happy lives but what they’ll remember Jane Withersteen an’ an’ Uncle Jim!... I reckon, Jane, we’d better be on our way.”
Westerns usually have well defined antagonists (adversaries) that are obstacles to the goals of the protagonists (central good guys and/or women of the story). Elder Tull and Bishop Dyer are well-defined antagonists in this novel.
Westerns always have a strong protagonist that overcomes trials and tribulations to reach a stated goal. Jim Lassiter is a strong protagonist in Riders of the Purple Sage. Jane Withersteen is a strong female protagonist in this story.
Westerns, while sometimes involving bigger cities and locales as well, often take place in simple towns and outlying areas such as farms. In Riders of the Purple Sage, Cottonwoods is a small village in southern Utah. It is an out-of-the-way border hamlet.
While known for fast-paced action and gruff characters, the typical western, such as this on by Zane Grey, does not shy away from the subject and theme of love. There is usually at least one love story in a genre western – a strong man pursuing or being pursued by an equally strong woman. In Riders of the Purple Sage, the love element is in the relationship of Jim Lassiter and Jane Withersteen, and also in the relationship of Venters and Bess.
A riveting finale
The typical Western has a strong and exciting story that moves ahead to a charged ending that ties up the loose ends of the story. The riveting finale of Riders of the Purple Sage is the rolling of the stone to seal the valley so the pursuers of Jim Lassiter, Jane Withersteen, and the orphan Fay Larkin will be thwarted once and for all.
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