Butcher's Crossing Themes

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When people picture a typical American setting, some see stars and stripes, but not many see tumbleweeds and dried buffalo hides. The myth of the American dream lies within the eye of the beholder. For William Andrews, the protagonist of Butcher’s Crossing by John Williams, the American dream was to travel west and explore a land that he had never experienced. He wished to find himself and learn more about his character in the wide-open spaces. He didn’t know what to expect, coming from a city, but along the way he learned that he wanted to explore the west further than his hunt had led him. Americans have an ambition like no others. The men in the novel have a drive and a strength that despite the odds of the outcome, make them work extremely…show more content…
This ideology comes from the stereotype that all white Americans are wealthy and successful, when in fact; Americans fail and their hard work sometimes does not pay off. In this book, Miller, the leader of the expedition to Colorado, is interested in the mere success of the trip, rather than the experience. Will on the other hand, looks at the hunt as a chance to be fully immersed in the region. Miller’s determination for an overwhelming victory and cash flow when returned home accurately represents the greed and desire for personal achievement in many Americans. However, McDonald, the wise townie, reveals towards the end of the novel what real success is when he says, “And you lost your tail, just like I said you would… Only you ain’t done it, because the lies told you there was something else. Then you know you could of had the world, because you’re the only one that knows the secret; only then it’s too late. You’re too old” (249-50). McDonald tells the returning men how they failed on their journey. The hunters looked into the future more than focusing on the essential part of their excursion. They lost their heads in the materialistic potential of the trip only to come back as failures. Their greed and lack of respect for the land cost them the real goal. The “success” that Americans are known for stems from the way most people perceive success through wealth. However, in Butcher’s Crossing, Williams makes an argument that true accomplishments aren’t measured by how many hides one obtains but instead, the satisfaction they

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