The Day the Cowboys Quit
Texas Christian University Press, Forth Worth
The Day the Cowboys Quit written by Elmer Kelton is an old western novel based on the events of the strike that took place at old Tascosa in the Texas Panhandle in 1883. It portraits in a very unique and interesting way the social, political, and economical changes that were taking place in the years before and after the Civil War in Texas; how the cowboys who for long had being men that in a way represented freedom itself (For being able to go anywhere they wanted to, at any given time, and could survive with little to no money on their pockets)? Were falling victims to the stereotype of being a bunch of drunks, and downgraded to a regular employee, that was slowly losing its privileges shortly after the arrival of the wealthy corporations drawn in by the “Beef Bonanza”. In this story we meet Hugh Hitchcock who is the main character, his friends Rascal and Law McGinty who like him worked for another friend called Charlie that owned the W ranch. This were the old days, in which being a rancher and cattle owner, was one of the few ways to get wealthy and every cowboy knew how to become one if they really wanted to. It wasn’t until the big corporations and bankers got involved in the beef market that the cowboys like Hugh Hitchcock and his friends were prohibited to own cattle at first and slowly stripped down from the things they had long considered birthrights, lowering their wages to an unsubstantial amount and suffer exploitation by being forced to work long hours, pushing them far enough to a breaking point that made them organize and eventually go on strike to face the new evil that human greed had brought over them. The degradation is such that even cowboys who used to believe in each other’s word, now in the name of big corporations would doubt each other’s word and even get into arguments and fights if necessary over cattle ownership; all in the name of the ranch...
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