True Grit

Mattie leans on the everlasting arms of Rooster

Courage is considered one of the cardinal virtues in Greek philosophy (and was adapted subsequently by Ambrose and Augustine), along with prudence, justice, and temperance. But what is courage? Does it mean that one should act like the U.S. Marshal Rooster Cogburn, who was well-known to be “a pitiless man, double tough, [to whom] fear don’t enter into his thinking”? Indeed, that’s why people called him a man with “true grit.”

But, along the movie, might not we find that Mattie Ross is the one who embodies the “true grit” by her relentless effort to find his father’s murderer and take revenge? She would not return in peace unless Tom Cheney, the murderer, was punished and killed: “I won’t rest until Tom Cheney’s barking in hell.” She is amazingly strong-willed, resolute, unwavering, and does not give a damn about her choice of words regardless of whom she is talking to. As the Texas Ranger LaBoeuf said, “You give out very little sugar with your pronouncements.” Is it courage? What shall we call those people who, despite of all odds, determine to forgive those who have trespassed gravely against them? Is it possible that it is actually these people who embody what True Grit is?

(I fall in love easily with a culturally alien film as I could learn as much as I can about the respective culture. American Old West is fascinating. “Who is in there?” “A Methodist and a son of a bitch!”)

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