Hanging Woman Creek Essay, Research Paper
Hanging Woman Creek is set in an era of American expansion when the major conflict of the Indian population was not much of a worry. The bigger worry for most men on the frontier was other whites. Bandits were plentiful, and the law was dealt out by the people. The book starts out in Chicago, concerning a man who had just been released from an overnight stay in prison. This man is called Pike, and has a reputation for being a fighter. His reputation is not that well however, because it seems that he loses more fights than he wins. He is sitting with an African-American man and another man by a fire, Eddie and Van. He quickly became friends with Eddie, and realized that Van was more trouble than he was worth. He and Eddie hitched a train to the West, looking for jobs as cowherds. They reach a town on the edge of the frontier that Pike has visited in the past. He finds some friends and one that offers a job. However, this job is not a very safe one. It is to round up some cattle near an outpost on Hanging Woman Creek and stay there.
Pike and Eddie find much trouble, and one man is shot in the back by an unknown assailant. Pike escorts a lady out to her brother s homestead, and a while later the lady s brother s estate has been burnt down. Bohlen, a local rancher, was suspected of doing it. Ann, the lady that Pike escorted earlier, was at the house. She had escaped however, and was now on the run. Pike caught up to her and they headed back to the town. Along the way Bohlen attacked the group and killed Eddie and Ann s brother. Pike and Ann made it back to town and Pike got his revenge on Bohlen, but only after he went through a court hearing and the truth came out.
This book was very confusing and disorganized. It was very hard to follow and the author
could have done a better job in explaining the plot. Facts were thrown in throughout the story
about what was going on, sometimes with no real relevance. The author also stopped often to contemplate the meaning of life from the perspective of Pike. This was distracting, and made the book a very boring read. The book definitely could have used some more organization and a less complicated plot.
One might think that this is a good story merely because it is exciting, as it has plenty of action. There are several gunfights and close calls. That is one of the good points of this story. There is a good amount of detail in the action scenes, and when a fight starts it is hard to put the book down. Pike is shown as having a great number of qualities, which he exhibits frequently. He struck a man sliding down a hill on a horse from four hundred yards with his rifle. This proves that at first he is more adept with a firearm than with his fists.
The character of Pike is a very complex one. At first he is an overly confident man who travels from east to west in search of nothing in particular. His great joy in life is fighting, which by the way the book displays, he is not very good at. Later on Eddie, who formerly was a boxer, teaches Pike some moves. In the beginning however, Pike throws himself into fights in which he is over matched. In one case, he goes into the fight swinging. Pike manages to knock the man down once but then he is pummeled so badly that he wakes up the next day not knowing what happened.
Pike develops throughout the story, from a man who is young and reckless at heart, to a man that is willing to settle down. He goes from looking for a fight to wanting to stop having to look over his shoulder every step of his life. This is mainly brought about by the appearance of Ann, with whom he falls in love. He risks his life to save her, and succeeds. Pike showed some desire to settle down and start a ranch, and he got his wish. Ann s brother owned a ranch, and
was killed on the flight from Bohlen. As Pike was the only one to help him, he left everything he
had to him. Pike owns a fully stocked ranch at the end of the story.
Eddie was a very loyal friend to Pike, and they were friends until Eddie s death. They met at the start of the story, and stayed together. Eddie was a young man that wished to learn how to cowherd, and so Pike took him along. They rode a freight train together to Montana, and that is where they found a job. Eddie kept the cabin while Pike was away and never did anything to warrant a loss of trust. His character does not show much depth, because he is only a sidekick to the hero, Pike.
This story painted the frontier as a wild place with very little in the way of law enforcement. Disputes were expected to be handled mostly by the people involved, and the law was rarely included. Vigilantes are men that do the job of lawmen where there are none. Sometimes however, a group of vigilantes may make the wrong decisions and do things that benefit them more than the people they set out to defend. Bohlen set up a group of vigilantes that came after Pike and killed Eddie and several others. The group was meant to uphold law in the land, but Bohlen abused them and sent them to do things that were not just.
This book was an interesting outlook on the Old West. It had some excellent action parts and some decent character development. On the other hand I would not recommend this book to most people because it is a slow read and very hard to follow. In some ways a reader might find it more in the genre of mystery. I would recommend the book to a person who enjoys stories about the Old West. In short, this book had some good qualities but it also had some flaws that stand out to an observant reader.