Lamour explains that the soldiers know they are at

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knowledge and skills of the wilderness. L’Amour explains that the soldiers know they are at risk, and probably will not return home alive. This courage ennobles the men, but ironically, many of these men are not the noble heros that they die as. While observing troops, Lieutenant Davis “knew something of their troubles, trials, and tribulations. Clanahan, who drank to much, Nabors, who was surly hard to get along with” (49). When these miscreant, yet courageous sol- diers took their last stand, they were remembered as dying heros. Pete Britton, an older man in
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the company, warns his comrades of a hopeless oncoming attack by more Apache. At this know- ledge, the Lieutenant orders Britton to send a message to the fort, but the elder refuses, wanting to stay and fight instead. “‘They’ll know soon enough,’ Pete said dryly. ‘Anyways, I’m agittin’ rheumatic these days. Figure I’d like it better this way’” (56). Britton himself understands that death is the legacy of a man, which is why he chooses to die fighting his enemy rather than die from rheumatic disease. After the battle, Hondo observes the bodies: “Davis had been shot three times [...] His body was not mutilated. Neither was that of big Clanahan, lying close by” (59). Hondo continues to explain that an unmutilated body meant respect from an Apache to a “fighting man” (60). Even the Apache enemies had respect for the brave deaths of Company C, for they did not scalp men such as Davis and Clanahan. Hondo later reports this to the Cavalry Major, who replies, “‘Clanahan?’ The Major’s eyes brightened a little. He remembered the man [...] a drunk, brawler, troublemaker, but a fighter. And he was Army. ‘He was a good man’” (77). Above all of Clana- han’s delinquent past, he will always be remembered as a “good man”. On the contrary to Company C ‘dying well’ and changing their legacy for the better, L’Amour uses Ed Lowe to demonstrate once again this idea of a second chance. The Apaches thwart Lowe’s plan to assassinate Hondo, yet Lowe survives the ordeal. “He drew a picture from his shirt pocket. ‘This tintype saved me’” (119). This tintype is soon after discovered to be a pic- ture of Lowe’s son, Johnny. L’Amour uses this picture of Johnny to show that Ed Lowe has a second chance to change his legacy; he survived the Apache attack, and Hondo does not kill him. This is an opportunity to return to his wife and child, and not die a coward. Yet, thinking greedily and selfishly, Lowe attempts to shoot Lane and dies trying. Hondo tries to hide this cowardly death from Angie, yet she eventually discovers the truth: “‘I knew you were lying...to make me
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think well of him [...] He wasn’t the type of man to die well”’ (180). Forevermore will Lowe be thought of as a coward and crook, for that is the way he died. It is clear that L’Amour demonstrates the significance of death in his novel, Hondo. Through the deaths of the men of Company C, especially Clanahan, and through Ed Lowe, the reader can see that a man will always be remembered for the way he dies. Death is indeed the fi- nal measure of a man.
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  • Fall '11
  • MarkKemp
  • American Old West, Boy, Hondo, Angie Lowe, Hondo Lane

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