Edward Abbey’s Brave Cowboy and Industrialization

The novel portrays the main character struggle with 20th century industrialization. He yearns for a different life that is more agrarian in nature. Someone said that it he represents a struggle between city and country folk but I think that he actually represents a struggle against the suburbs. I’m not sure that it is New York City or Boston that he’s really against but rather the suburban strip mall America in search of a city/town. Personally, it is this part of America that I despise. There are so many places in the country that look like suburbs around DC with the nearest city being 500 miles away. This is sad because strip malls are an awful way to organize. Large Cities and small towns have more in common than both of them do with strip malls. Cities and towns allow people to come to one place to socialize and shop while strip malls make them drive from one store to another within the same complex. This facilitates anti-socialism, detachment, and discontent without really providing the tranquility of a quiet country life.

The Sheriff is a dynamic character who is somewhat conflicted over his feelings toward the cowboy but not really. “Johnson spat; his instinctive sympathy for the hunted man was darkened by a scornful pity closer to disgust than compassion.” I think this conflict comes from the fact that he sees him as a symbol of America but also as a symbol of anti- government rebel. In that time, antigovernment meant leftist but in today’s world antigovernment means the right wing. What is ironic is that today, members of the Republican Party are both highly organized and “traditional” in their values and also anti-government.

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