Beautiful Illustration in the Novel True Grit
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The theme of revenge is illustrated perfectly in the novel True Grit. The reader is able to see how far someone is willing to go for revenge. Mattie Ross’s father was murdered by Tom Chaney when she was just fourteen years old. She has such a strong desire to seek vengeance for her father. She soon becomes obsessed with avenging her father. As time goes on her desire to avenge her father takes over her. She will end up putting the revenge over herself and her safety. Her main goal was to make sure her father’s murderer knows that he is being taken down for murdering her father. Tom Chaney is a well known criminal at this time and was wanted for other crimes as well. Mattie wanted to make sure Tom Chaney is punished for murdering her father.
Mattie teamed up with a Texas Ranger named LaBoeuf. She joined him on the hunt to capture Tom Chaney. Mattie is a young girl at this time and she completely disregards the possible risk she will be enduring by joining LaBoeuf, on the Chaney manhunt. Tom Chaney is a very violent criminal and the hunt to find him is extremely dangerous. Mattie is focused mainly on getting revenge for her father. This is a prime example of how revenge can cause someone to put their well being in the back seat and let the urge for revenge take over. Mattie is entirely motivated by anger and the urge to get vengeance for her father.
Mattie wants to do everything she can to, to get justice for her father. Chaney is a widely known criminal who has been involved in many crimes. The only crime that matters to Mattie is her fathers murder. She wants to make sure that Tom Chaney is punished for murdering her father. Mattie had a very close bond with her father. She was extremely devastated when she found out he was killed. She displays her main goal when she states “Well, it is nothing to me one way or the other except that when we do get Chaney he is not going to Texas, he is coming back to Fort Smith and hang” (Portis). This represents Mattie’s entire motive to hunt down and capture and kill Chaney. Her sole focus is capturing Chaney and making him pay for killing her father.
The urge to seek revenge eats at Mattie so much that she begins to focus on very small details pertaining to how she will murder Chaney. Mattie said “he is coming back to Fort Smith” (Portis) when she captures him because she wants him to die in the same place her father was killed. This helps the reader see how Mattie is very attached to the case. To Mattie this is extremely personal and must be done her way. She believes justice will only be served if Chaney is captured and killed exactly the way she planned it. She desires a poetic justice for her father. This form of poetic justice she is seeking is the only way she believes justice can be served. Chaney must be killed the way she wants. Everything must go according to plan. Mattie also says “I want Chaney to pay for killing my father”(Portis). As she says this, it is apparent that she has already been very obsessed with a very particular form of revenge, and her inability to compromise only further reveals the kind of monomania that often goes along with this desire for retribution.
All of the decisions that Mattie made were completely influenced by her pure obsession for revenge. The reason she teamed up with U.S marshall Rooster Cogburn, was because of his reputation for being ruthless. Rooster joined the Chaney man hunt for the money. Rooster is one of the only characters in True Grit that really understands what Mattie is going through. He is very familiar with the obsession for revenge and knows what it is like to have a personal vendetta against someone. This is exposed to the reader and Mattie when Rooster is cross examined and speaks about his time hunting down the Wharton family. Mattie really thought deeply into what Rooster had said. Rooster spoke about how it is very crucial to not let anything sway you from what is morally right. After hearing this Mattie was geared even stronger into getting revenge for her father.
Mattie does eventually kill Tom Chaney and avenge her father but in the end she realizes that this isn’t what was going to make her feel better. She still has all of those same terrible feelings she had when she first found out her father was killed. In addition to her mentallly not being satisfied with killing Chaney. She also is damaged physically. Mattie got bit by a rattlesnake and had to get her arm amputated. In a dark twisted way this is Mattie’s consequence for not stepping back and letting LaBoeuf and Rooster capture Tom Chaney.
Mattie was blinded by her desire for revenge. Her irrational decisions caused her to put herself in harm’s way. Mattie unfortunately didn’t realize that murdering Chaney isn’t really what she needed to do, until it was too late. She let vengencane run her mind and it put her in bad situations. The novel leaves the reader with the choice of whether or not Matties decisions and sacrifices were worth it.