3. The American Adam myth of the Western genre requires a man to be wealthy enough to live as he chooses. In what way is Ethan shown to possess this attribute?
2. Ethan is clearly physically fit, single, and from the mainstream culture. However, in order to qualify for status under the American Adam myth of the Western genre, he must show intelligence and knowledge. What examples of Ethan's knowledge does the film offer?
The American Dream: The American version of the rags-to-riches myth holds that in the United States hard work, luck, and perseverance will allow anyone to succeed. It is a social ideal that motivates individuals to seek prosperity with the confidence that they will one day have a comfortable life, own a home and enter the middle class. Equalitarian in nature, the American Dream developed from the Puritan assertion that your value to society is determined by how much you produce. This individualistic drive, though not apparent in the Western hero, informs the motives that propel everyone else in the Western setting including ranchers, settlers, farmers, prospectors, saloon keepers, bar girls, shopkeepers, and even sheriffs. Most people pursue the promise of wealth, or at least survival with a degree of comfort.
In analyzing fiction, the concept of the exemplary exception is very important. There are indeed heroes who do not share all of the attributes of the American Adam Myth of the Western genre. These men are the exception to the rule; they do not negate the rule but show that extraordinary individuals can rise above what is usually required.
All three of these books confront the myth of the American Dream.
The world-view of the Western genre was strongly influenced by the sparse population of the early West, the fact that there were very few women, the harsh environment, and the near absence of social institutions such as the family, churches, and the law. Existing myths and values of European/American culture, such as the love of nature, the child savior, and the American dream also had a strong influence on the world-view of the Western genre.