The Main Conflict in ‘The Virginian’

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The two main events which changed his character were falling in love and promotion to foreman, which developed his sense of loyalty, duty and responsibility even further. The author says, “Manhood had only trained, not broken his youth. It was all there, only obedient to therein and the curb.” (p. 96 Chp. 13). His intellect was honed by the good literature Molly lent him, from which he learned, and applied. Not only did he write and speak better, as a result, he learned wisdom from the books too. The difficulties with Steve turning cattle rustler, the enmity and dishonourable actions of Trampas, Shorty’s death and Steve’s hanging, did not change his character so much as showed it in full maturity. Love, duty and honour the code of the West were the main elements of the Virginian’s character. He would never shirk duty and would always stand on the side of ‘good’ His essence may be explained in this statement he makes to Molly when seeking her understanding about the gunfight. “ I work yet. I belong high. It’s my life.” and “I am goin’ my own course”, he broke in. This was between the Virginian and Trampas, for their morals and characters were at opposite ends of the scale, one being an honest and upright person, the other a sneaking thief and finally, a murderer. Their conflict, the beginning of “five years of hate” (p. 272 Chp. 35) appears early in the story and sets the scene for the enmity and animosity. “You bet, you son of a —” is Trampas laying down the gauntlet, and the Virginian’s response, putting his gun on the table and ordering the other man “When you call me that, smile.”