"The Girl Who Got Rattled" Characters

The main characters in “The Girl Who Got Rattled” are Alfred, Miss Caldwell, and Allen.

  • Alfred is a scout hired by Mr. Caldwell to accompany his wagon train to Deadwood. Though extremely skilled, knowledgeable, and dangerous, Alfred is misjudged by strangers on the basis of his small size and shy demeanor.
  • Miss Caldwell is Mr. Caldwell’s daughter. She longs for greater freedom, and her reckless behavior in riding out into the prairie alone ultimately leads to her death.
  • Allen is Miss Caldwell’s fiancé. He interrupts and jeers at Alfred and unwisely encourages Miss Caldwell to leave the wagon train.


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Alfred is an extremely accomplished scout, known widely across the prairies for his excellent marksmanship and the fact that he knows the land like the back of his hand. His attitude is generally apologetic, but he has no qualms about killing those who are in his way—or even those who annoy him. In an apparent contradiction, he is extremely shy with women and will rarely tell them what to do, even when they have put themselves in great danger. An example is given of a woman about to ride into quicksand: even in such a circumstance, Alfred would feel bashful and apologetic about having to tell her to move away and do something other than what she had intended. Alfred is also quite odd-looking, being small in stature enough that he is sometimes mistaken for a child, and having a very soft voice and an effeminate face.

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Alfred, however, is not to be challenged. Throughout the story, he demonstrates that when he is underestimated, it is at the peril of the person responsible. He is keenly aware of the behavior of the Native Americans who make the prairies dangerous for white settlers, and he is able to strategize aptly in order to preserve the wagon train from Native attacks. He is also able to be strong and decisive under fire, as we see toward the end of the story when he and Miss Caldwell are in danger.

Miss Caldwell

Miss Caldwell is a young and adventurous woman, the daughter of the "capitalist" Mr. Caldwell. She is engaged to Allen and evidently does not wish to be constrained by the fact of her gender. She has entreated her father to take her with him on his annual journey to the West, largely because she feels that "roughing it" would be entertaining and she is bored by her life at home. She talks openly to Allen, to whom she is engaged, about how constrained she feels: as a man, he is able to ride out from the wagon train and do things, whereas she is expected to stay close. She yearns for freedom, and as a result, she behaves recklessly, leaving the wagon train alone and reveling in the fresh air and in being on her own. Ultimately, however, her behavior endangers both Miss Caldwell herself and Alfred, and she is not as brave as she thinks she is when things go sour. When she is afraid that Alfred has been killed, she shoots herself unnecessarily out of fear of the treatment she might receive at the hands of Native...

(The entire section contains 711 words.)

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