The Day The Cowboys Quit
The Day the Cowboys Quit is a novel written by the highly acclaimed Texas native, Elmer Kelton, in 1971. Kelton was born April 29th, 1926 in West Texas. Throughout the early years of his life, Kelton was raised on a ranch and attended college at the University of Texas to study journalism. Over a span of about fifty years, Kenton was hard at work delivering western novels, most of which are based in Texas. The novel The Day the Cowboys Quit received the Spur award in 1971 for the best western novel. This is only one of about forty novels written by Kelton who has received prestigious awards for many of his novels.
The opening of the novel presents a prelude of how life for the 19th century cowboy was and how contrary to belief, the cowboy was a very civilized individual. Unlike the common misconception of the cowboys being a drunk individual with itchy trigger fingers, Kelton displays many of the characters in the novel as modest men, sober when on the job, and without a gun around their waist. It tells of how Texas was one big nesting ground for cattle with wide open space that stretched for miles. The prelude defines the cowboys as an independent bunch that have the tumultuous job of herding cattle from here to there. The cowboys have a distinct way of life, a distinct set of skills, and a distinct set of beliefs and rules. The main dilemma in the novel arises when the cowboys’ way of life is challenged by changing times as well as the big corporations encroaching on their freedom as the possession of cattle becomes a key point. The novel itself is told in third person, but is centered around the character Hugh Hitchcock. Hitchcock is the wagon boss for Charlie Waide’s cattle drive under the company name, the W’s. Hitchcock is described as still an agile and intelligent man that is still relatively young. He serves as the main character and the moral center of the story. “Hitch” as they come to call him, is a simple and modest man...
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