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Cowboy ClassicsThe Roots of the American Western in the Epic Tradition$
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Kirsten Day

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474402460

Published to University Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474402460.001.0001

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date: 30 May 2020

George Stevens’s Shane

George Stevens’s Shane

(p.103) 3 George Stevens’s Shane
Cowboy Classics

Kirsten Day

Edinburgh University Press

Though a staple of the Western canon, George Stevens’s 1953 Shane has been criticized for its self-conscious mythologizing. Perhaps because of this mythic framing, Shane’s connections to the epic tradition are pervasive. This chapter begins by examining the overlapping concern in both with the guest-host relationship, constructions of male honor, and property rights as they relate to masculine identity. Turning next to the Iliad, this chapter expands on Carl Rubino’s examination of Shane as an Achilles figure by looking at the complicated psychological identification between hero, companion, and enemy present in both works. Next, Shane is connected to Homer’s Odyssey in its focus on a hero torn between lust for action and longing for home, its concern with a boy’s coming-of-age, and its anxiety about women’s sexual integrity. Finally, this chapter examines Shane’s close kinship with Virgil’s Aeneid through their focus on nation-building, with each including a significant acknowledgement of the antagonist’s perspective, in effect calling the justice of the hero’s cause into question, along with related notions of divine impetus and Manifest Destiny.

Keywords:   George Stevens, Shane, Homer, Iliad, Odyssey, Virgil, Aeneid, Manifest Destiny, Carl Rubino

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