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Day 6

From p. 90 to p. 107 (end of chapter)

September 8, 2020 by Ed Park

Part of Mattie’s frustration in hearing Rooster and LaBoeuf talking about how to split the bounty, aside from the fact that she already had a deal with R., is that L. has been on Chaney’s trail for 4 months. Had he done his job, Mattie’s father would be alive.

LaBoeuf: “Bibbs was a little senator.” Portis does so much with that name—it’s inherently funny in its smallness, and incommensurate with Mattie’s quest for justice.

“I want him to know he is being punished for killing my father. It is nothing to me how many dogs and fat men he killed in Texas.” Her aim is true.

Note how Mattie refers to the killer as Tom Chaney even as LaBoeuf continues calling him by his (presumably) real name, Chelmsford.

I got a chill up my spine when Mattie says: “Open the door, Toby, and wish me luck. I am off for the Choctaw Nation.” Here we go! (The journey began on the first page, but here’s another jolt, at the halfway point!)

Mattie being forced off the ferry with lies. “The sheriff has a notice on her.” Et tu, Rooster? Mattie: “They are in this story together.” (Playing the lawyer card doesn’t work this time.)

I love all the attention to her pony: the superstition about coloring, what she feeds him, that he’s her “pal.” “He enjoyed this outing, you could tell.”

I think one reason I wanted to read True Grit is because most of it takes place outdoors. Through Mattie, we can step out of our pandemic confinement and fill our lungs with air.

LaBoeuf’s fixation about whipping her, already mentioned twice, comes to fruition at the end of the chapter. It’s interesting how many times it’s come up—as though Mattie’s attraction to him has to be deflected by his cruel streak.

“We resumed our journey in thoughtful silence, the three of us now riding together and pushing deeper into the Territory to I knew not what.” Heightened language working perfectly here.

Side note: Remember Mattie saying Rutherford B. Hayes stole the election from Tilden? Like clockwork, here’s more about the fraught election of 1876, in New York mag:

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