2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Hondo: A novel's portrayal of the American myth.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Hondo (Mass Market Paperback)
The western myth over the years has slowly become the American myth. The old west has come to represent the ideal American characteristics of independence, heroism, and ruggedness. So, too, the cowboy has been given an almost god-like status in the mind of America. In the book Hondo, Louis L'amour captures both the qualities of the west and of the cowboy. This book has rightfully become an American classic. It has been read by thousands, but still finds a place in today's world of political correctness and multi-culturalism. But, how has the book not only survived but thrived through the years? For the answer, we need only analyze three things: the main characters, the descriptive use of the west, and L'amour's writing style. The main characters of Hondo and Angie are the back bone of the book. It is through the development of these two characters that L'amour is able to keep the reader's attention and entertain, as well. Hondo contains just about every masculine characteristic that is viewed by American eyes as desirable. He is truly a man's man. He possesses great physical strength and mythic-like reflexes. He is rugged and independent and as with most heroes, in the end, he gets the girl. Perhaps his most important characteristic is his tendency for both good and evil. He is a true middle grounder who is able to exist between the two worlds of the Indians and the settlers - the worlds of chaos and order. Angie falls in love with him for these characteristics, and so does the reader. We admire him because he is fixed, right or wrong; he is what he is. Angie tends to have all the desirable characteristics of a woman as well. L'amour portrays Angie in a manner which allows the reader to choose how Angie is seen. She can be seen as a strong, brave, independent women who survived the west on her own and became involved with Hondo out of want and not necessity. Or, she can be seen as loyal, domestic, and allowing herself to be swept off her feet by a handsome cowboy. By leaving the interpretation of Angie to the reader, L'amour can capture both sides of how the west is viewed. On one hand, the west is a place of opportunity for independent survival and on the other, it's a place where one can find true love and romance. Hondo and the scenery are paralleled throughout the book. Much like Hondo, the west is shown to be rugged, rough, and brutal. L'amour does not describe the west with great detail as other cowboy novel authors have, such as Zane Grey. This fact adds mystery of the west. Leaving the west as an unknown, L'amour is able to accentuate the frontier qualities associated with the west. What little description he does give is simplistic in nature. L'amour's writing style in general is very simplistic. Some critics have labeled this a negative aspect of the book; however, I feel it only adds to it. The cowboy myth itself is very simple in nature. In its purest form, it is the ability to survive independently, not relying on anything or anyone else. By keeping the language simple, L'amour is able to convey that myth and use it to the advantage of the work. The reader able to easily identify the feelings associated with both the west and the cowboy. Louis L'amour has given us a very entertaining work with Hondo. The western has become more than just another form of literature. The western myth has become the American myth. It sums up the qualities and characteristics of our nation. As Americans we have all come to identify ourselves with certain concepts such as individuality, independence, and resourcefulness. These qualities are all shown by our hero Hondo. L'amour and other western writers have given us a median in which we find an American at his best. We can all find aspects of the cowboy in our daily lives and that is precisely one reason why Hondo has lasted so long.