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Rooster Cogburn: The Man of True Grit and Failure in Life

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Rooster Cogburn: The man of true grit and failure in life

In "True Grit", a well-known novel by Charles Portis, besides the main character and narrator, Mattie Ross, the 14-years old girl who goes on a quest to avenge her father's death at the hands of a drifter named Tom Chaney, there is another equally important character, that is a one-eye man named Rooster Cogburn. He is a deputy marshal for the U.S District Court for the Western District of Arkansas, having criminal jurisdiction over the Indian Territory (44). He is hired by Mattie for one hundred dollars to hunt Tom Chaney. In this essay, I will argue that the readers not only admire Rooster Cogburn because of his grit, but also they are really like him in spite of his immature and irresponsible ways of living.

Readers can find out many evidences of Rooster's immaturity. Firstly, he is not educated in properly way but he does not intent to conceal that fact. He admits he "done everything but keep school" (140). So, paperwork is a challenge for him. He cannot finish a simple sheet that a 14-years old girl can do easily (88, 89). In the cause of poor education, he has no progressive ambition that his ex-wife expected. She expects him to be a lawyer but he has no patient enough to read even a book, he says that he "never could get a grip on it" (143). Because of lacking in education, he has thoughts as same as a kid. When readers hear Rooster tries to excuse his robbery in the past, "It didn't belong to nobody but the government" (142), they will associate with the logical of a kid when he/she excuses his/her taking something without permission. Rooster even can "sleep like a baby. Have for years" (144) without qualms of conscience. It is sound interesting to recognize that there are such immature thoughts in the mind of a grown man who is the fear of any criminal.

Although the novel makes clear the irresponsible ways of living of him . He stays away two and three days at a time with his river friends (143) and neglects his duty. He let his wife handles family's business lonely and doesn't take care of his son anymore. All things he can give to his son are, "awful rough" (143).He is not a good father when talks about his son like this, "You would not want to see a clumsier child than Horace" (143). That behavior leads to the breakdown of his marriage but he thinks that his wife has no conduct enough to put the blame on him, "there is your divorced woman talking about decency". What an obstinate guy!

Especially, he is mean spirited alcoholic. The first night Mattie comes to Cogburn's house, he drinks whiskey. This novel proves clearly the dangers of alcohol when a man is hang because he kills his best friend while he is drunk (22) and when Chaney shoot Mattie's father in the same status. Now, Cogburn drinks the same liquor that Chaney and that man did. Rooster goes so far as to offer Mattie, a fourteen year old girl, a drink, "A little spoonful would do you a power of good" (63). Likewise, later in the novel, Rooster drinks while riding in search of Tom Chaney, "he drank even as he rode" (171).Alcohol makes him loses his self-control, "he got to talking to himself"(171). It turns a professional marshal into a silly person, "it did make him silly."(171) Even a long climb can make him "fell of his horse" (171) also. What an unacceptable image to any marshal!

His characteristics are as same as characteristics of an animal that has the same name as his: rooster. As rooster, Cogburn is arrogant also. He is quite willing to lose half-hour to show off his talent in shooting, "He got one of the dodgers out and flung it in the air and fired at it and missed. Then he flung another one up and he hit it. The corn dodger exploded. He was pleased with himself and he got a fresh bottle of whiskey from his baggage and treated himself to a drink." (170).He does not accept the idea that there is another man that is better than

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