The Day The Cowboys Quit Analysis

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The novel, The Day the Cowboys Quit, by Elmer Kelton is not a typical cowboy story filled with waving guns and violent fights. Instead, this story shows what the real life of a cowboy would have been like through the story of Hugh Hitchcock. The Day the Cowboys Quit is based on a cowboy strike that occurred in Tascosa, Texas in 1883. Kelton based his fictional story on the causes of the strike and what became as a result of the strike. This paper will explain historical events concerning the cowboys and depict their true lifestyle which contrasts the stereotypes normally associated with being a cowboy, as well as summarize the novel The Day the Cowboys Quit. The historical cowboy strike of 1883 was led by Tom Harris, a ranch hand at the LS ranch in Tascosa, Texas. Harris was tired of being controlled by ranches that were owned by corporations only interested in monetary wealth, specifically five major ranches: the LIT, the LX, the LS, the LE, and the T Anchor. Additionally, the ranch owners were establishing new rules that did not allow cowboys to receive calves as part of their pay, brand mavericks, or run small herds on their employers’ land. Many cowboys felt cheated by these new laws and believed that they solely benefitted ranch owners (Zeigler). These cowboys, along with Harris, …show more content…

These men worked hard herding, branding, and tending to cattle from sun up until sun down. However, over the years the image of the cowboy has been blurred by media. Often times when someone thinks of cowboys they think of a vicious gunslinger who is always looking for a fight. In reality, many cowboys could not even afford a gun. Regardless, throughout Kelton’s novel, The Day the Cowboys Quit, he was able to effectively portray the correct speech patterns, distinguishing characteristics, and lifestyle of the Texas

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