Mattie Ross is a devout Presbyterian who supports her sincere beliefs and principles with pertinent references to the New Testament. She is honest and will not persist in a falsehood even in an effort to deceive the murderer Tom Chaney. She is as forthright with outlaws as she is with law-abiding citizens. Her strength is shown in her ability both to get men to act in accordance with her wishes and to resist the commands of men. Her political persuasion is that of postbellum Southerners: She is a confirmed Democrat. She is outspoken and does not mince or waste words. Her narration shows that she clearly adheres in later life to the principles and values that she presents herself as having adhered to during her fourteenth year.
Rooster Cogburn is an embodiment of the Old West, with its code of personal, as opposed to legislative, justice. When he is enlisted by Mattie at the age of forty-three, his way of life is already on the way out. He participates in the advent of legal justice by becoming a marshal, after the manner of Wyatt Earp, and he does his best to help the new order, embodied in LaBoeuf, to displace his own. As a Southerner, he had seen his civilization collapse in the Civil War, during which he had served not in the regulation Confederate Army but with William Quantrill and his outlaw raiders. The end of his age is commemorated by his becoming a living exhibition piece.
Sergeant LaBoeuf is duty bound and dedicated to his job as a...
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