Cowboys and gauchos

Material Information

Cowboys and gauchos contrasting views in the frontier literature of Argentina and the United States
Olson, Dennis K
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
University of Colorado Denver
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 electronic file. : ;

Thesis/Dissertation Information

Master's ( Master of Arts)
Degree Grantor:
University of Colorado Denver
Degree Divisions:
Department of Modern Languages, CU Denver
Degree Disciplines:
Committee Chair:
Abeyta, Michael
Committee Co-Chair:
Lema-Hincapie, Andres
Committee Members:
Noel, Thomas J.


Subjects / Keywords:
Gauchos -- Argentina ( lcsh )
Cowboys -- United States ( lcsh )
Frontier and pioneer life in literature ( lcsh )
Cowboys ( fast )
Frontier and pioneer life in literature ( fast )
Gauchos ( fast )
Argentina ( fast )
United States ( fast )
non-fiction ( marcgt )


While there are many similarities in the frontier literatures of the United States and Argentina, the contrasts between the two are most vividly seen in the countries' respective views concerning the role of nature. The nineteenth century authors of the literature constructed an imaginary foundation on which the generations that were to come would build a framework of their respective ideas concerning the relationship between nation and nature. In analyzing the publications of the nineteenth century, particularly those that deal with the image, in the United States, of the frontiersman and the cowboy in the ever-expanding western landscapes of the nascent nation, and those that explore the Argentine image of the gaucho and the campesino on the pampa, one comes to understand how they eventually built an imaginary national foundation based on preconceived myths that they held about nature, a foundation on which the national self-image would be interpreted and later perceived as historical reality. However, those ideals were based on myth and ancient customs from the motherlands and cultures from whence these two peoples came. These myths and customs were hardwired from birth into the psyches of the European settlers, and by extension into the psyches of the authors of United States and Argentine frontier literature, manifesting themselves in varying psychological mother-complexes as related to Mother Nature. Carl Jung described a positive and negative mother complex that can also be applied to man's relationship with Mother Nature. While the colonizers of the United States projected a positive mother complex regarding Mother Nature upon themselves, those of the Argentine Republic projected upon themselves a negative mother-complex. Authors from both countries, however, appeared to suffer from Sigmund Freud's Oedipus-complex as it related to Mother Nature while attempting to penetrate Mother Nature's realm and tame her. This implies a metaphorical shift in their views of her from Mother to object of sexual desire. The myths, combined with certain psychological archetypes unconsciously influenced the writings of frontier literature and the author's views of nature in the nineteenth century.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Colorado Denver. Spanish
Includes bibliographic references.
General Note:
Department of Modern Languages
Statement of Responsibility:
by Dennis J. Olson.

Record Information

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|University of Colorado Denver
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|Auraria Library
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All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
862817483 ( OCLC )


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COWBOYS AND GAUCHOS : CONTRASTING VIEWS IN THE FRONTIER LITERATURE OF ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES by Dennis K. Olson B.A., Metropolitan State College of Denver, 2010 A thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Graduate School of the University of Colorado in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Master of Arts in Spanish 2012




ii This the sis for the Master of Arts degree by Dennis K. Olson has been a pproved for the Master of Arts in Spanish by Michael Abeyta Chair and Advisor Andres Le ma Hincapi Tom as J. Noel November 14, 2012


iii Olson, Dennis K (M.A ., Master of Arts in Spanish) Cowboys and Gauchos: Contrasting Views in the Frontier Literat ure of Argentina and the United States Thesis directed by Michael Abeyta. ABSTRACT While there are many similarities in the frontier literatures of the United States and Argentina the contrasts between the two are most vividly seen in the countries resp ective views concerning the role of nature. T he nineteenth century authors o f the literature constructed an imaginary foundation on which the generations t hat were to come would build a fram ew ork of their respective ideas concerning the relationship betwee n nation and nature. In analyzing the publications of the nineteenth century, particularl y those that deal with the image, in the United States of the frontiersman and the cowboy in the ever expanding western landscapes of the nascent nation and those th at explore the Argentine image of the gaucho and the campesino on the pampa, one comes to understand how they eventually built an imaginary national foundation based on preconceived myths that they held about nature a foundation o n which the national self image would be interpreted and later perceived as historical reality However, those ideals were based on myth and ancient customs from the motherlands and cultures from whence these two peoples came. These myths and customs were hardwired from birth into the psyches of the European settlers, and by extension into the psyches of the authors of United States and Argentine frontier literature, manifesting themselves in varying psychological mother complexes as related to Mother Nature. Carl Jung described a positive and negative mother complex that can also be applied to mans relationship with Mother Nature While the colonizers of the United States projected a positive mother


iv complex regarding Mother Nature upon themselves, those of the Argentine Republic projected upon themselves a negative mother complex. Authors from both countries, however, appeared to suffer from Sigmund Freuds Oedipus complex as it related to Mother Nature while attempting to penetrate Mother Nature s realm and tame her T his implies a metaph orical shift in their views of her from Mother to object of sexual desire. T he myths combined with certain psychological archetypes unconsciously influenced the writings of frontier literature and the authors views of nature in the nineteenth cen tury. The form and content of this abstract are approved. I recommend its publication. Approved: Michael Abeyta


v DEDICATION I dedicate this work to Leesa Olson, my loving wife, and my children, Stefanie Walker, Victoria Olson, and Gillian Sanchez, fo r their endless support and patience with me during the countless hours I spent on research, writing, and revisions as well as my granddaughter, Savannah Sanchez, who too often sacrificed the love and affection of her grandfather during the preparation of this thesis I, also, dedicate this work to my parents, George and Christine Olson, for their encouragement and their belief in m y ability to complete the task


vi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank first and foremost, Michael Abeyta, who patiently a dvised me in the development of this thesis and without whose insight this work would not have been possible. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the following very knowledgeable professors at the Universi ty of Colorado Denver: Andrs LemaHincapi whose kn owledge of J. L. Borges and the gaucho was particularly helpful Devin Jenkins, for his expertise on Spanish in the southwestern United States, and Tom Noel (Dr. Colorado) for his ability to bring the history of the cowboy and the Old West alive. Each of t heir classes has proven invaluable to my research into the topic on which I have written. And finally, it is with deep affection that I acknowledge the influence of the greatest of High School history teachers, Coach Willie Robinson, Forest Hill High Sch ool Jackson, MS. It is to him alone that I attribute my great love and interest in historical studies.


vii TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER PROLOGUE ...................................................................................................................1 I. INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................9 Frontier ...................................................................................................................... 10 Civilization and Barbarism ......................................................................................... 14 Gauchos and Cowboys ............................................................................................... 18 Pampa and Prairie ...................................................................................................... 32 II. THE IMAGINARY CONTRUCT OF THE FRONTIER IN THE LITERATURE OF ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES ............................................................... 38 The Authors of Frontier Literature and How They Shaped the Development of Their Respective Countries .................................................................................................. 44 Cowboy and Gaucho Poetry ....................................................................................... 52 III. PSYCHOLOGICAL ARCHETYPES AND COMPLEXES IN THE VIEW OF NATURE IN THE FRONTIER LITERATURE OF THE UNITED STATES AND ARGENTINA ............................................................................................................... 56 The Projection of the Great Mother Archetype onto Nature ........................................ 62 The Mother Complex ............................................................................................. 62 The Oedipus Compl ex of Men Toward Mother Nature ........................................... 74 Conclusion ................................................................................................................. 79 WORKS CITED ............................................................................................................ 82


1 P ROLOGUE As I stepped onto the p latform and boarded the train on that blistering hot January day in 1980 that would take me from the sprawling metropolis that was Montevideo to the river port city of Salto, Uruguay, little did I realize that my boyhood fantasy of living in the Old West w as about to become reality. I had grown up on a farm in rural Mississippi spending my childhood reading the easy frontier fiction of Zane Grey, Louis LAmour, and Jim Kjelgaard, watching Roy Rogers, Gene Autry and, o f course, the Duke John Wayne, and pl aying the now highly polit ically incorrect childhood game Cowboys and Indians I felt as though my time and place on this earth had been miscalculated and that I was meant to have been born one hundred years earlier out on the western plains of Kansas or, possibly, Texas. But as the locomotive left the urban surrounding s of the capital city Montevideo, and chugged through ever longer stretches of unhindered grasslands it became apparent that, at least to my mind, I was on a time machine that with each pas sing kilometer was transp orting me further back in time. It was as if I were in a dream state, like Borges s character Johannes Dahlmann, in El sur. At the first stop some wonderfully rough looking characters boarded and sat across from me. They were d ressed in a fashion that I had never seen. They wore baggy, flared leg britches that were buttoned tightl y above each ankle, dusty leather boots, a brightly colored sash tied firmly about their waists which barely concealed the hilts of finely sharpened knives, dingy white shirts under ponchos that were pulled up ove r one shoulder and wide brimmed hats cinched about their necks. A cou ple of the men were smoking foul smelling cigarettes They were speaking in a dialect of Spanish that I barely understood. It wasnt long before a curious looking set of playing cards was pulled out


2 and some sort of gambling game began in earnest. Even though I was unfamiliar with the dress of these men I knew almost immediately that they were cowboys even though the stereotyp ed six shooter was conspicuously missing from their attire It wasnt the dress that gave them away as much as the type that I had read about in so many western novels As the realization dawned upon my consciousness that these were the famed gauchos of South America my imagination began to run rampant and much like Owen Wisters narrator, in The Virginian, the preconceived stereotypes that I had come to associate with the Wild West colored my initial thoughts I simultaneously became excited at the fulfi llment of my longed for dream and somewhat naively, afraid for my own life as a couple of the men began speaking with raised voices. One of these men appear ed quite agitated and, in my nai vety coupled with a less tha n firm grasp on the language, I could only assume that in the course of their card game the other man had been accused of cheating. Perhaps I had just seen too many Cowboy movies. My imagination began to run rampant and I was sure a kn ife fight was about to ensue ; that I would somehow be caugh t in the middle. I began to imagine what that knife fight might have looked like had the confrontation escalated to the level that I was expecting and not been cut short by a friendly slap on the back of the more boisterous individual by one of the other m en, which was promptly followed by the jovial laughter of the one offended Years later, as I read El encuentro (The Encounter) one of the many gaucho stories of Jorge Luis Borges, I was delighted to discover those far away imaginati ons written in det ailed account:


3 Los hombres peleaban. Al principio lo hicieron con torpeza, como si temieran herirse; al principio miraban los aceros, pero d espus los ojos del contrario. Sin el poncho que hace guardia, paraban con el antebrazo los golpes. Las mangas pronto jironadas, se iban oscureciendo de sang re. Duncan quera estar muy cerca del otro; Uriarte retroceda para tirarse en pualadas largas y bajas. Nadie se atrevi a intervenir Uriarte haba perdido terreno; Duncan entonces lo carg. Ya casi se tocaban los cuerpos. El acero de Uriarte buscaba la cara de Duncan. Bruscamente nos pareci ms corto, porque haba penetrado en el pecho. Duncan qued tendido en el csped. No cerr los ojos, no se movi y yo haba visto a un hombre matar a otro ( 104142) The men were fighting. At first they fought clumsily, as though afraid of being wounded; at first they watched their opponents blade, but then they watched his eyes As their forearms (with no ponchos wrapped around them for protection) blocke d the thrusts, their sleeves, soon cut to ribbons, grew darker and darker with blood. Duncan tried to stay close to the other man, while Uriarte drew away in order to make lo n g, low thrusts. No one summoned the courage to intervene. Uriarte had lost groun d; Duncan then charged him. Their bodies were almost touching


4 now. Uriartes blade sought Duncans face. Abruptly it looked shorter; it had plunged into his chest. Duncan lay on the grass. He did not close his eyes, he did not move, and I had seen one man kill another. (Hurley 367) I didnt think much about it at the time, how mens life and death struggles are learned from the observation of nature and the animal kingdom, but years later as I read Ricardo Giraldes s Don Segundo Sombra I couldnt help but draw certain comparisons between the dance of death performed in the pit at a cock fight and that of two men embroiled in savage artistry: El giro cargaba de firme, el buche pegado a su contrario, que le daba un poco el flanco cruzando el pescuezo. Pero el bataraz, cuando se senta picado en las plumas del cogote, zafaba el encontrn echando casi al suelo la cabeza, de modo que los puazos pasaran por encima, sin herirlo. Brillaban las cabezas barnizadas de sangre. Afanosos los picos buscaban los ver rugones de las crestas o un desgarrn de pellejo para asegurar el bote. Pertinazmente el giro segua empujando con el buche; agravando as el silbido de su respiracin penosa, y not que aflojaba en su juego de pico. Era necesario permanecer en la defensiva, evitando el golpe decisivo, salvando en media hora de resistencia, y tirar hacia abajo a cada picada del contrario.


5 De pronto un murmullo de sorpresa sofoc al pblico. El giro se haba despicado. Un triangulo rojo yaca en la tierra b arrida del reidero. (17677) The gray went straight for his foe, closing breast to breast. The red turned a little to one side, and they crossed necks. But when the red felt the blows on his neck feathers, he dodged, lowered his head almost to the ground, and the attacks went over him, without wounding him. Blood varnished their heads. Beaks sought the ridge of the comb or a torn strip of flesh for the final thrust. The gray kept thrusting breastfirst; the whistle of his breathing grew more labored ; th e volley of his beak, I observed, was slowing. The thing to do was remain on the defensive, avoiding any possible decisive blow, to stall at least half an hour and to duck every head thrust. Suddenly the audience gave a murmur of amazement. The gray ha d lost his bill. A small crimson triangle lay on the hard dirt of the ring (D e Ons 956) Thus did my imagination run wild as I envisioned every thrust, dodge and blow of my stereotyped characters in the personas of these innocent men. As the iron wheel s rolled further and further into the never ending grasslands of the interior and the argument I had witnessed passed into a treasur ed recollection of my first day in country, I began to wonder whether I was in South America or the wilds of Africa as ostri ches ( and) rose out of the high grass, watching the passing of the


6 locomotive. I had no idea that ostriches existed on the American continent and I was captivated by my experiences, but the recent discovery would not be the last revelation of that moment ous day Suddenly, still other gauchos on fleet footed horses barreled onto the scene, boleadores swirling above their heads like the rotor of a helicopter, charging toward the oversized fowls which now numbered at least two score. With amazing precision t he whirling stones, encased in hard leather sacks, flew from the callused and dexterous hands of the pursuers, wrapping themselves around the long necks of their prey, felling three of them. What a wonderful, barbarous land I have come to, I thought to m yself. Salto my destination, is another, yet much smaller, metropolis bordered on the west by the Ro Uruguay and on the east by a vast stretch of pampa. In appearance it reminded me of the Frenc h Quarter of New Orleans with its old world charm. The milk I drank was delivered fresh each morning by a horse drawn wagon ; the food that was to be prepared for the noon meal was purchased each day from street vendors or local retail me rchants. Refrigerators held only the nourishment that was to be consumed durin g that day. Each day began and ended with the h abitual ritual of mat and bread, which constituted the morning and evening meal s Many of the automobiles were throwbacks from the 1930s or 1940s. I began to silently wonder in what decade of what century I h ad landed Now that I was settled in, o ne of my first orders of business was to secure a good copy of Don Quijote de la Mancha the only Spanish work of which I had any knowledge as I had determined to read it in the Spanish language during my two year s tay. In my ignorance, I had assumed that this book was the quintessential classic of the


7 Spanish speaking world and was hailed as such in every country. I searched every bookseller I could find in Salto but was not satisfied with any edition that I found. A friend suggested a door to door bookseller that had access to a catalogue beyond the selection that I would find in stores. When at length the vendor paid me a visit he quickly dissuaded me from my preconceived selection, informing me that if I truly wan ted a classic of Uruguay and Argentina that I should instead purchase Martn Fierro He pulled from his bag a copy of the most exquisite book I had ever seen and allowed me to peruse it. It was bound in the laminated hard wood of the ceibo tree and encrust ed with 24 carat gold inlay lettering. The spine was of rich looking finely grained leather The large, heavy pages smell ed like the wood in which it was bound. Inside were superb paintings by Juan Lamela that reminded me of Frederick Remington s paintings of the Old West. I promptly forgot all about Don Quijote and, no ma tter the price, had to have the book that I was then holding in my hands a very expensive edition at the cost of 3,000 pesos (roughly $300 in the currency exchange of 1980). I read it thr ough intensely and marveled at the language and verse, at the compelling story it told. I began to notice similarities in the cowboy heroes of my yout h, as well as stark differences in the attitudes of nature, race, religion and politics, social structures and the treatment of women. About a year and a half into my stay in Uruguay I had the pleasure of living and working in the gaucho village of Fraile Muerto, so far removed from civilization that the only way in and out of the town was either by horsebac k or train. By the time I began my graduate studies in Spanish my course of study had already been chosen for me based on the fascination I had come to have for the gaucho and the love that I had already from my youth for the cowboy. Martn Fierro and an observant humble bookseller had set me


8 on what would eventually be my path. During those two years I never did get around to reading Don Quijote


9 CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION Mans relationship with nature is a prevalent theme in the frontier literature of nineteenth century America. While the cowboy era in the United States and the gaucho era of Argentina and Uruguay are replete with similarities between the two cultures and their lifestyles, as written in the literatures, there is one area of deep contrast s: the view of mans relationship with nature The main characters in this literature were men who ventured away from ho me and hearth and whose view of nature was heavily influenced by myths that they brought with them from their respective homelands in Eu rope, as well as by psychological archetypes and complexes formed through numerous generations. The authors of this literature were, more often than not, of the educated class who penned their works from comfortable surroundings in the East and who had no contact with the class of people they were portraying. Furthermore, several of these authors had not even visited the locations they were writing about at the time in which they were putting pen to paper to spin their famous tales. Words and phrases employ ed in the frontier literature of each nation offer rudimentary clues of the myths and archetypes and serve, in this work, to distinguish the literature of the United States from that of the Argentine Republic and Uruguay Because the cultures of Argentina and Uruguay are so similar it is to be understood that in this thesis where I write of Argentine culture that of Uruguay is also implied. Because the meaning of words are sometimes vague or could be construed to have differing meanings between author and r eader I feel a brief explanation of certain terms that I will employ in this text should be clarif ied. Therefore it will be beneficial to the


10 reader to understand why I chose certain terms over others and their meanings as employed herein. For that reason I give here the etymology of these words and my rationale for their use. Frontier Cowboy literature, more commonly known in the United States as western literature, and gaucho literature trace their origins back to young colonies with small townships on th e edge of the Atlantic Ocean in both North and South America, full of independent minded men and women that would not be subjugated by a governing body, no more visible than a deity, halfway across the world. As the l ong arm of European dominance stretched across the waters to the shores of the North and South American Atlantic coasts the recent inhabitants of the newly found lands, atte mpting to outrun the grasp of mother England and father Spain, traversed further into the wilds of their respective adopt ed domains. The direction for escape was always westward into the frontier and onto the prairies and pampas. I have come, old man, into these districts because I found the law sitting too tight upon me, explained Ishamel to Natty in Coopers The Prairie and am not over fond of neighbors who cant settle a dispute without troubling a justice and twelve men (61). Giraldes picks up on the same theme in calling the gaucho, Don Segundo, un espritu anrquico y solitario, a quien la sociedad continuada de los hombres conclua por infligir un invariable cansancio (a lone, anarchic spirit that wilts in prolong ed intercourse with men; 146; D e Ons 69). The word frontier according to Douglas Harpers Online Etymological Dictionary comes from the Old Fr ench, first seen in print in the thirteenth century and originally meaning the front line in an Armys defense. By the fifteenth century it took on


11 the meaning of a borderland surrounding a densely populated center, which had a density of two or more inhab itants per square mile. It was not until 1869 that its use as a borderline between geopolitical entities first came into use. In the English language of the present day it symbolizes the wild country where there are very few inhabitants, or perhaps none. I n this sense it is applied to Outer Space, als o known as the final frontier. In todays Spanish, frontera is used almost exclusively to denote the border between countries. However, in this work, I use the word in an expansionist sense as a perceived bor derline between what was then considered civilization and barbarism. The frontier was there to be conquered and civilized, in a semi European fashion, by men and women who wished freedom from the oppression of their native lands; but, also, it was a haven for those who had a disdain for civilized life. Later, as the independent nations of The United States and Argentina were established men, sometimes with their families, ventured into the wild regions for a multitude of reasons: the lure of land and riche s, a place free of a governing body where they could forge their own destinies unencumbered, a place to practice their religion freely, or simply to flee justice for some felony committed against the ruling bodys restrictive laws. The young tenderfoot protagonist of Don Segundo Sombra, much like Huck Finn, fled before the restrictive rules of those placed over him: De ningn modo volvera a hacer el vago por las calles aburridas. Yo era, una vez por todas, un hombre libre que ganaba su puchero, y ms bien vivira como puma, alzado en los pajales, que como cuzco de sala entre las faldas hediondas a sah umerio eclesistico y retos de m andonas bigotudas ( I was done forever with loafing around those tedious streets. Once and for all I was a free man, earning the bread I ate. Id rather live like a mountain lion alone in the wilds than be a


12 lapdog again under the incense stinking skirts of those bos sy, whiskered old maids; 106; D e Ons 37). Of course, there was always a more mature and more experienced mentor to break in the more nave and often foolish newcomer. Huck Finn had Jim; the narrator of The Virginian had the Virginian and the young gaucho had Don Segundo. In the acclaimed twentieth century frontier play, Paint Your Wagon, Alan J. Lerner attempted t o sum up the mindset of these men, who often dragged women and children with them into the wilds, in the words of the farcical s ong, The First Thing You Know : They civilize left. They civilize right, Till nothing is left; Till nothing is right. They civilize freedom Till no one is free; No one except, By coincidence me. The men of the frontier were, more often than not, thought of as rogues and neer do wells wit h little regard for law and order. Whether the stereotype was fitting or not they were considered by so called civilized society and depicted by writers of frontier literature as hard living, hard dri nking, thieving individuals who while not civilized in the classic sense, neither did they quite fall under t he category of the barbarian. While this class of men was shunned by a more refined society, they were somewhat tolerated as long as they kept to themselves and came into town only


13 infrequently, rarely meeting with the hostility shown toward the completely uncivilized Indian. After all, as Benedict Anderson wrote in his Imagined Communities Half civilized was vastly better than barbarian (21). These frontiersmen were merely individuals who had lost their way. This was the way that Fennimore Cooper portrayed Natty Bumpo (ak a, Leatherstocking, Pathfinder, Deerslayer, Hawkeye, and the trapper), the way Owen Wister portrayed The Virginian, the way Domingo F. Sarmiento portrayed the gaucho in general, and the way Jos Hernandez portrayed Martn Fierro. These types continued to relocate to the frontier as civilization crept upon them. However, the self imposed banishment from a civilized state began long before there were cowboys or gauchos. The frontiersmen, of course, did not share the view that the urbanites had toward them a s pertaining to their character. In her forward to Cattle Kings of Texas Dian Leatherberry Malouf writes, Texas was never a refuge for the lowly or oppressed. Early settlers, says T. R. Fehrenbach, looked upon themselves as a chosen race, as a collecti on of men who considered themselves morally superior, noble, and unafraid. They took pride in being a bit rough around the edges, taking their calloused hands, sweat stained hat bands, and their ability to overcome the challenges of nature as signs of rea l manhood. Leatherberry Malouf continues: Among the earliest arrivals in Texas were the hot blooded, difficult to govern, and ironwilled but loyal Scotch Irish. They avoided existing civilization whenever they could, opting for the wide open and empty spa ce of a desolate frontier. Most were quiet men who preferred to stick to themselves. Involvement and participation were not in their character.


14 Their only need for acceptance was internal this has not changed. When the settling of the East, North, and West began, the ScotchIrish headed to the last place left on the frontier South Texas. (9) T here were no Anglo cowboys at the ti me of the first influx of eastern United States settlers into the West and Southwest However, the charros (skilled and dext erous Mexican horsemen), vaqueros (Mexican cowboys) and rancheros (ranchers) already had a long and proud tradition in what would become the Southwestern United States. Anglos learned the skills necessary for ranch work from the rancher class of Mexico. Th ere probably would have been no American cowboy had there not first been cha rros and vaqueros Because the cowboy sprang from the wandering, adventurous, Anglo frontiersmen who, upon entering then Mexican territory, blended their culture with that of the M exican ranchero class I do not lim it my scope in the study of United States literature strictly to the cowboy. I explore not only the cowboy and gaucho, but also their precursors as written in the literature, the frontiersmen and homesteaders, those men a nd women who lived in the borderlands between barbarism and civilization, always moving further west and south as civilization encroached upon them. Thus, instead of differentiating between gaucho, cowboy and frontier literature in the following argument, I will simply classify all three as frontier literature, as all of the characters of these genres lived and worked on the borderline between what was considered civilization and barbarism. Civilization and Barbarism Civilization and barbarism are highly s ubjective terms, dependent upon the culture that employs them. For example, what some cultures in the Middle East condone


15 as civilized behavior flies in the face of western sensibilities and vice versa. When the Spanish conquistadors fir st began to subject the native peoples in America, they considered the great cities of the Aztecs and the Incas to be peopled by barbarians, at the same time referring to them as civilizations, setting up an unfathomable dichotomy in the usage of the terms. Can a barbarous p eople truly have a civilization? In order to fully understand these terms it is important to analyze the etymologies of these words. One cannot begin to look at the term civilization without first considering the meaning of the words roots, civil and civilize. The roots come to us directly from the Latin civilis an adjective relating to a citizen, relating to public life, befitting a citizen, thus one who is civil is popular, affable, courteous. By the late fourteenth century the French extended the meaning of the word relating it to civil law or life (Harper). The philosopher, John Locke, who had such a profound influence on the United States Declaration of Independence and the subsequent Constitution of the country, defined the limits of civ il law as it applied to the nature of man, balancing it with mans liberty. He wrote that a state of liberty is not a state of license: Though man in that state have an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not libe rty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession, but where some nobler use than its bare preservation calls for it. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone. And reason, which is the law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions. (444 45)


16 By the seventeenth century the French employed the verb civilizer (to civilize), which in essence m eant to indoctrinate the uneducated rural masses in the proper etiquette of city life, or as the Online Etymological Dictionary defines the term, to make citified. To understand the rules of civility and the forced implementation of those rules would kee p the uncivilized, rural ruffian from running afoul of the law when they were within the jurisdiction of the city. It was not until 1704 that the first instance of the use of the term as a noun came into the public domain with the meaning of a law which makes a criminal process civil. Then, in 1772, the first recorded instance of the term, signifying a civilized condition, was employed in opposition to barbarism, a term from mid fifteenth century French meaning an uncivil ized or rude nature. T his t erm however, has its roots in the ancient Greek barbarizein, to do as a foreigner does, and was an extension of the Greek barbarismos and the Latin barbarismus meaning foreign speech. By about 1450 barbarism signified an uncivilized or rude nature; to be barbaric was to be uncultured, uncivilized, unpolished or as in the Greek meaning of the word barbarikos to ac t like a foreigner. A ll of these terms were extensions from the original term barbarian. In order to fully appreciate the significan ce of that term I submit the following entry, in its entirety, from Douglas Harpers Online Etymological Dictionary : Mid 14c (adj.), from M.L. barbarinus (cf. O.Fr. barbarin Berber, pagan, Saracen, barbarian), from L. barbaria foreign country, from Gk. barbarous foreign, strange, ignorant, from PIE root barbar echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners (cf. Skt. barbarastammering, also nonAryan). Greek barbaroi (n.) meant all that are not Greek, but


17 especially the Medes and Persians. Ori ginally not entirely pejorative, its sense darkened after the Persian wars. The Romans (technically themselves barbaroi ) took up the word and applied it to tribes or nations which had no Greek or Roman accomplishments. The noun is from late 14c., person s peaking a language different from ones own, also (c.1400) native of the Barbary coast; meaning rude, wild person is from 1610s. Based on the etymo logy and borrowing of the words civilization and barbarism between cultures it is readily apparent h ow a culture could take these wor ds, make them their own, and through the p rinciple of attachment, apply them to their own culture. This often caused conflict s to arise between the citizenry of different nations who looked at their own culture as the civil ized entity and the culture of the foreigner as uncivilized. This often resulted in misunderstandings that eventually led to violence as an invading culture would assert their supremacy over the meaning of what it was to be civilized above that of the local populace. Therefore, those who left the city (civilization) and divorced themselves from city etiquette were considered to de evolve into barbarians, being no longer involved in civil society, committing barbarous acts of violence one with another as is epitomized in frontier literature, such as the cowboy gunfight s in the Old West of North America and the gaucho knifefight s on the pampa of Argentina. These were truly barbarous actions according to city etiquette, while a moderated duel with pistols and a single shot at ten paces was the civilized way of settling an unsolvable conflict, according to French civil law. This sort of gentlemans


18 duel was readily practiced in New Orleans until the mid nineteenth century and is the basis of many folkloric stories in the antebellum Deep South. The frontiersman, the man who left civilization looking for riches or a better life, was at times an unwitting victim of the forces that surrounded him; but by his very nature man is a survivor and in his survival often does barbarous things which make him an outcast to civilization. Writing about the gaucho in X Ray of the Pampa, Ezequiel Martnez Estrada argues: He did not want to lower himself to the status of the Indian, a product of the conjunction of forces that surrounded him. He fought against this force burrowing deep into his flesh, but in the end he adopted the customs of the native he despised: he learned the Indians way of fighting and living; he used the Indians weapon, the knife; he mated with the squaw; he built his casual hovel; and he left offspring behind him. (21) Gauchos and Cowboys In the early nineteenth century, even b efore the advent of the North American cowboy the term gaucho beg an to circulate throughout the world. After the populace of the North American continent became familiar with the epithet cowboy they would define the gaucho as the cowboy of Sou th America. By the beginning of the twentieth century this word would become part of the English lexicon. According to Sara Parkin son de Saz in her edition of Ricardo Giraldes s Don Segundo Sombra, the word gaucho derives from the Quechua word huachu, which carried the meaning of a child or animal that was r aised far from its parents, like an orphan (69). T he Online Etymological Dictionary however, places the words origin as cauchu, me aning wanderer, from a


19 different native language, Aruacanian the language of the Aruca Indians. The case can also be made that the term came from an advanced, Berber speaking Stone Age people of African descent known as the Guanches that inhabited the Canary Islands and were the first victims of European expansion. Sven Lindqvist wrote of their demise in Exterminate All the Brutes: One Mans Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origin s of European Genocide : In 1478, Ferdinand and Isabella sent an expedition with guns and horses to Grand Canary. The plains were quickly captured by the Spaniards, but in the mountains the Guanches continued a stubborn guerilla warfare. Finally in 1483, si x hundred warriors and one thousand five hundred women, children, and old people capitulated all that remained of a once numerous population. (110) The stubborn guerilla warfare tactics employed by the gauchos may have led to an extension in the use o f the term Guanches, in reference to these men of the pampa, which within the evolutionary tendency of languages, morphed and evolved into the term gaucho. The first recorded instance of the word was in 1790, shortly after Juan de Garay first brought c attle into the Argentine grasslands. The gauchos of Argentina and Uruguay are generally depicted in the literature as a group of Spaniards who went off into the frontier from Buenos Aires, procreating with the native population, having m estizo, dark skinne d children, learning guerilla warfare tactics from the indigenous peoples and according to Martnez Estrada, de evolving in many ways, into what could be described as a Stoneage mentality (15). T he authors of gaucho literature depicted the ga ucho as a victim of a de evolutionary process that returned them to something cruder


20 than the natural state of man, thereby endearing them to the romantics that wrote of the era, like Jose Hernndez, Esteban Echeverra, and Ricardo Giraldes, and earning the disd ain of the elites who were responsible for the eventual demise of the original gaucho. Martnez Estrada appears to have taken the standard of the elite, unfolding in his treatise, X ray of the Pampa, the de evolutionary process on the people that would lat er come to be known as gauchos. He moved backward and thought he was going forward by pushing against the future with his back, he wrote (15) Hernndez, though a friend to the gaucho, had Martn Fierro say essentially the same thing: Hace mucho que su frimos / la suerte reculativa (For a long time now weve borne / our fortunes running backwards; 21256; Ward 21256). In this vein Martnez Estrada argued: Under imperceptible influences the population regressed into an inferior state; and such regress ive states, relapses into barbarism, are cruder than the natural state. They involve the surrender of civilization and the return along many paths, such as one may stumble upon in the prairie land, to the lowest level of animality. Disillusionment leads t o destruction and mockery of everything that reminds us of the superior state we abdicated, not only in objects around us but in ourselves. The love for what we have is hate for what we cannot have, and vice versa. Much of what has been taken for barbarism is simply the disillusionment of an ordinary dreamer. (1516) Whatever the origin of the term gaucho, whether it is that of an orphan, a wandering nomad, or the memory of a less than civilized and vanquished people, it is assumed that the original term carried a connotation of a displaced person, an orphan, and


21 will be used as such in this work. Also, the meaning employed in most gauchesca literature is consistent with the meaning of orphan. The young gaucho in Don Segundo Sombra, who is also the narra tor of the novel writing in the first person, begins his tale by stating, Pensaba en mis catorce aos de chico abandonado, de gaucho, como seguramente diran por ah (I was thinking of my fourteen years as a gaucho the name everyone around there sur ely gave me an abandoned orphan; 69; D e Ons 7), and later affirming the status when he replied to an inquiry concerning his parentage: Padres? No soy hijo ms que del rigor; juera de sa, casta no tengo nenguna; en mis pagos algunos me dicen el Gauc ho (Parents! I am the child of hard knocks; thats all the family Ive got. Where I come from, folks used to cal l me the gaucho; 273; D e Ons 178) Under these definitions it would not be too far of a stretch to term Natty Bumppo, of Cooper fame, th e first gaucho in American literature. He was dispossessed by his own people and raised by the Delaware Nat ive American nation; he adapted in many ways to their mode and manner of life; he spoke their language; he was more comfortable with his Indian vil lage than he was in the sett lements of the whites, choosing at his death to be buried with the Pawnee of the plains. In The Last of the Mohicans Natty declared, I have no kin no people (429) and in The Prairie at the end of his life, he affirmed, The Wahcondah made me to live alone. He never tied my heart, to house or field, by the cords with which the men of my race are bound to their lodges; if he had I should not have journeyed so far and seen so much (278). Is not this the definition of orphan? Blake Nevius in his introduction to The Prairie wrote: Perhaps the most durable and pervasive theme in American fiction, the theme of dispossession and flight,


22 on both the phys ical and spiritual levels, has preoccupied every major novelist from Cooper s day to our own (Nevius xii). Usi ng this theme of dispossession D e Ons, in her introduction to the translation of Don Segundo Sombra, quotes Sarmiento as taking it even further by claiming that the Ar gentine himself is dispossessed: one had only to loo k under the frock coat of an Argentine to find the gaucho (216). The theme of the gaucho as a South American nomad, displaced from civilized society, is prevalent in Domingo F. Sarmientos semi historical account, Facundo: c ivilizacin y barbarie where h e calls them American Bedouins and an Argentine proletarian that prefers to live away from society, fighting nature on their own, hardened by their privations, and not counting on any resource more than their own capacity and skillset in order to take precautions against all the risks that continually surround them (623). Sarmiento describes the gaucho in the following terms : El hombre de la campaa, lejos de aspirar a semejarse al de la ciudad, rechaza con desdn su lujo y sus modales corteses; y el v estido del ciudadano, el frac, la silla, la capa, ningn signo europeo puede presentarse impunemente en la campaa. Todo lo que hay de civilizado en la ciudad est bloqueado all, proscrito afuera; y el que osara mostrarse con levita, por ejemplo, y monta do en silla inglesa, atraera sobre s las burlas y las agresiones brutales de los campesinos. (667) The countryman, far from attempting to imitate the customs of the city, rejects with disdain its luxury and refinement; and it is unsafe for the costume o f the city people, their coats, their cloaks, their saddles, or anything European, to show themselves in the country. Everything


23 civilized which the city contains is blockaded there, proscribed beyond its limits; and anyone who should dare to appear in the rural districts in a frock coat, for example, or mounted on an English saddle, would bring ridicule and brutal assaults upon himself. (Mann 19) Charles Darwin, however, a staunchly educated European, found the gaucho quite amiable. In The Voyage of the B eagle: A Naturalists Voyage Round the World, Darwin wrote about a contingency of gauchos that came into his camp one evening to drink spirits and smoke cigars. He was intrigued by their appearance, which he called striking describing them as tall an d handsome. He detailed their clothing, stating, With their brightly coloured garments, great spurs clanking about their heels, and knives stuck as daggers (and often so used) at their waists, they look a very different race of men from what might be exp ected from their name of Gauchos. Darwin translated the term gaucho as meaning simple countrymen. He went on to write, Their politeness is excessive; they never drink their spirits without expecting you to taste it; but whilst making their exceedingly graceful bow, they seem quite as ready, if occasion offered, to cut your throat (44). The Gauchos counterpart in North America was the Cowboy. The etymology of that word has a rich and varied history. It is widely assumed that the term cowboy was an English translation from the Spanish vaquero from vaca (cow) signifying one who works with cows; however, that assu mption is incorrect. Buckaroo, a synonym for cowboy, traces its origins to that Spanish word. According to Brent Colleys online Histor y of Redding, Connecticut, the first use of the word cowboy came from eighteenth century England and carried the simple meaning, boy who tends to cows. In


24 this sentiment it did not mean strictly a juvenile male, as the word boy would seem to imply; i t was also a reference to a grown man w ith a lowly social status By the time of the United States Revolutionary War the term was applied by independenceminded patriots to a select group of proBritish raiders who harassed and plundered the rural districts of the boundary between American and British forces in Westchester County, New York. The term cowboy was applied to this group because they would sell cattle that they had stolen from pro independence colonists to the British forces as a way of rais ing money. James Fennimore Coo pers novel, The Spy, is centered on these partisan cowboys and their exploits among the patriotic inhabitants of Westchester County. The Online Etymological Dictionary reports that by 1849 the term had been extended to ranch hands that made their living by working with cattle and by 1942 took on the additional meaning of a brash and reckless young man, furthering the stereotype that had been penned for the rough and tumble characters of frontier literature since early colon ial days. The term cowhand was not seen before 1852, possibly as a way to rid the term of the negative connotat ion of boy. The term cowpoke, another modern day synonym for cowboy came into use in 1881 and was originally restricted to the cowboys w ho prodded cattle onto railroad cars with long poles. Due to high societal, stereotyped caricatures and portrayals of the cowboy as suffering an inferiority complex when they were around the educated class, the same attitudes concerning outsiders that ar e portrayed in Gaucho literature are also prevalent in the literature that deals with the North American cowboy and frontiersman, especially in the literature of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, although without the same degree of open hostili ty. For the most part, according to the fictional literature dealing


25 with the frontiersman, the outsider was just ignored or sometimes the victim of impious pranks. H aving already witnessed a perverse sense of humor among the cowboys the citified narrator of Owen Wisters The Virginian felt himself a complete outcast in Medicine Bow, Wyoming and wished no more scrutiny of his person then he could help: I made no attempt to talk, for no one in this country seemed favorable to me. By reason of something, my clothes, my hat, my pronunciation, whatever it might be I possessed the secret of estranging people at sight. Yet I was doing better than I knew; my strict silence and attention to the corned beef made me in the eyes of the cow boys at table compare wel l with the over talkative commercial travelers. (12) And as to the alleged inferiority complex, again the character of the Virginian can serve as a prime example of the stereotyped ignorant cowboy of frontier fiction penn ed by the educated eastern elite s of the United States imagining a culture to which they had little or no exposure. In the novel, Molly, the eastern school teacher, loans the Virginian a couple of books to read, one a detective story by an unmentioned author and the other, The Mill on t he Floss by the British novelist George Elliot (aka, Mary Anne Evans). The Virginian struggled through the volumes and then let his opinion be known to Molly: If Id known that one was a detective story, Id have got yu to try something else on me. Can you guess the murderer, or is the author too smart for yu? Thats all they amount to. Well, he was too smart for me this time, but that didnt distress me any. That other book talks too much (103) This short review by the protagonist of Wisters novel, of those two fictional works, besides demonstrating the Virginians lack of comprehension of the full


26 significance and intricacies of the plots, also shows the straightforwardness in the attitude of the fictionalized man of the frontier; he preferred to g et straight to the point. When informed that the author of the other book, George Elliot, was a woman and not a man his simple observation was, Well, then, o course she talks much (103). H is feelings of inferiority however, were valid only as to a c ultured education, full of what he deemed were nothing more than trivial facts that had nothing to do with himself or his surroundings. When it came to a working knowledge of nature or mankinds survival in a hostile country the educated man or woman of the East was more likely to get killed, and in such situations the cowboy and the frontiersman felt a vast superiority over the farcically portrayed intellectual. Admonishing the newly arrived schoolm arm to Medicine Bow, Mr. McLean in The Virginian, warned Jest because yu happen to come from Vermont is no cause for extra pride (87). James Fenimore Cooper seemed to take especial delight in portraying the intellectual as an individual with little common sense on the frontier, whether it was the psalmist, David Gamut, in Last of the Mohicans or Dr. Obed Battius, the naturalist, in The Prairie and even Cap, in the beginning, in The Pathfinder ; the intellectual was always used as a tool in order to place the protagonist in some perilous situation. While scal ing the wall of a towering bluff, overlooking the prairie, in order to rescue a kidnapped girl from a group of desert pirates Dr. Battius is oblivious to the danger that the rescuing group faced: While imitating the movements of his companions, and toiling his way upward, with the utmost caution, and not with great inward tribulation, the eye of the Naturalist had caught a glimpse of an unknown plant, a few yards above his head, and in a situation more than commonly exposed to


27 the missiles which the girls w ere unceasingly hurling in the direction of the assailants. Forgetting, in an instant, everything but the glory of being the first to give this jewel to the catalogues of science, he sprang upward at the prize, with the avidity with which the sparrow darts upon the butterfly. The rock which instantly came thundering down, announced that he was seen the trapper gave him up for lost. (153) It was only the quick action of those in the rescuing party that saved the Naturalists life, demonstrating that an edu cation by book may not be equal to actual experience, placing the frontiersmen and cowboys in an environment where they were a vastly superior fit to their environs then were the city dwellers who ventured forth for adventure. In comparing an educated city boy to his Native American friend, Uncas, Natty quipped, your young white, who gather his learning from books and can measure, what he knows by the page, may conceit that his knowledge, like his legs, outruns that of his father; but where experience is t he master, the scholar is made to know the values of years, and respects them accordingly (Cooper, Mohicans 260). In this respect the authors of Gaucho literature also concurred. The young protagonist in Don Segundo Sombra was dismayed at the years he th rew away in formal studies: Todo lo aprendido en mi niez aventurera resultaba un msero bagaje de experiencia para la existencia que iba a emprender. Para qu diablos me sacaron del lado de mama en el puestito campero, llevndome al colegio a aprender el alfabeto, las cuentas y la historia, que hoy de nada me servan? (What Id learned in my haphazard childhood was of little worth to prepare me for the life I challenged. Why the devil had


28 they taken me from my mother and stuck me in school to learn reading, arithmetic, history, which were of no use to me now? ; 108; D e Ons 39). Martn Fierro also warned: Aqu no valen dotores, solo vale la esperencia; aqu veran su inocencia esos que todo lo saben; porque esto tiene otra llave y el gaucho tiene su cencia. ( 1. 145762) Your professors are no good here, experience is all that counts; here, those people who know everything would see how little they know because this has another key and a gaucho knows what it is. (Ward 1.145762) In other words, the educated shouldnt go into the frontier among the gauchos, Indians, woodsmen, mountain men, and cowboys with a know it all attitude or they will find just how inadequate to the task they really are, finding little help among these peop le who will be content to let the smarty pants f igure it out for themselves. Wisters Virginian explained this attitude as follows: Now back East you can be middling and get along. But if you go to try a thing on in this Western country, youve got to do it well. Youve got to deal cyards well; youve got to steal well; and if you claim to be quick with your gun, you must be quick, for youre a public temptation, and


29 some man will not resist trying to prove he is the quicker. You must break all the Comman dments well in this Western country, and Shorty should have stayed in Brooklyn, for he wil l be a novice his livelong days. (Wister 295) After the publication of The Virginian in 1902, the cowboy found a new born respect among the populace of the United Sta tes and the c owboy became a romanticized United States symbol of freedom and true ma nhood In an interview conducted for Ken Burns documentary, The West the historian Richard White affirms: When Americans tell stories about themselves they set those sto ries in the West. The American heroes are western heroes. When you begin to think of the quintessential American characters theyre always someplace over the horizon. There is always someplace in the West where something wonderful is about to happen. Its not what has happened, its something wonderful is about to happen. And even when we turn that around, even when we say, Well, something has been lost, whats lost is always in the West. This view of the cowboy, however, is not shared outside of the Uni ted States where the term cowboy is still used as a pejorative, even to this day, as is evidenced in the European press by their labeling of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush as cowboy presidents practicing cowboy diplomacy, with the intimation that they were slow to thought, quickto action hard headed and only semi civilized in their dealings of foreign affairs.


30 With respect to outward appearance and dress, the cowboy shares a similar attitude with the gauchos. The cowboy preferred his style of dress over that of the city dweller, being used to his jeans and a loose fitting shirt, he felt somewhat claustrophobic in a buttoned up shirt, a suit and a tie. After being forced by his new bride to dress in the manner of the city for a meeting with his new in laws in Vermont the Virginian declared, I and the tailor are old enemies now (Wister 367). Any semblance of city dress on a man in the frontier or a more refined speech emanating from his vocal chords was immediately seen by the cowboy of fiction as an immediate reason for distrust and suspicion. I have thought that matters of dress and speech should not carry with them so much mistrust in our democracy says the narrator of The Virginian. T hieves are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but a sta rched collar is condemned at once. Perfect civility and obligingness I certainly did receive from the Virginian only not a word of fellowship (36) Mark Twain in writing about his experiences in the silver mining towns of Nevada claimed that if a man wa nted a fight on his hands without any annoying delay, all he had to do was to appear in public in a white shirt or a stove pipe hat, and he would be accommodated. For those people hated aristocrats. They had a particular and malignant animosity toward what they called a biled shirt (392). Twain only wore his old navy revolver in deference to popular sentiment (274). The cowboy like the gaucho, had little use for the finer things in life, finding them quite unnecessary. Materialism was for the rich ea sterners of the Atlantic seaboard states who had more in common with Old England than the expanding United States. In his commencement address, at the University of Washington, to the graduating class of 1914, Frederick Jackson Turner asserted, From the beginning of that long westward


31 march of the American people America has never been the home of mere contented materialism (250). The class disparity often caused the frontiersman to invent jokes at the expense of city dwellers who as has been demonstra ted, were viewed as totally unfit for the frontier, mocking their manner of dress and their educated way of speaking. In a counter point to the educated class portrayal of the frontiersmen, the cowboy contended that an easy life robbed urban dwellers of t heir manhood. A man of the city was often derided as a dandy a dude, or a city slicker, not knowing the difference between a milk cow and a bull. One famous cowboy poem by Nick Johnson tells about a couple of dudes, a lawyer from Boston and a Doct or from Baton Rouge, and their boredom and intolerance of the simple life on the range, who were camping with a few cowboys one night: And the Doc turned to the lawyer And he says, God, aint this dead; Nothin to do but sit and fidget, Guess Ill cha se myself to bed. You can talk about Dame Nature, But the next time that I go For to see this wide and wooly West Ill bring a radio. (33 40) But according to the unwritten Cowboy code it was even worse to have lived the life of a cowboy and then turned away from it. In yet another poem, by Cowboy poet extraordinaire Gail Gardner, a cowboy falls in love with a city woman and moves to a small dude ranch on the outskirts of the city where he spends his time pampering


32 spoiled rich men and letting them t hink they are cowboys for a day or two. This ex cowboy happens to meet up with an old friend from his previous life as a ranch hand and explains to his old partner how he has been corrupted; that he will go on wranglin dudes forever / Until the day that I shall die (67 8) The old partner couldnt bear to see the fate that awaited his friend and shot him. Somewhat remorseful the old friend relates: I shorely hated for to do it, For things thats done you caint recall, But when a cowboy turns dude wran gler, He aint no good no more at all. (736) Pampa and Prairie What was it that made the frontiersmen so different than their citified counterpart s ? It could have been the environme nt in which they found themselves : the grasslands of their respective countries and the ever present dangers that they encountered therein. Perhaps it was the feelings of displacement that is engendered within the minds of those sallying forth upon the vast terrain. P ampa, prairie, plain, and llano are synonymous terms descr ibing large and expansive flat, featureless tracts of seemingly never ending grasslands. For proof that the terrains are almost mirror images of each other, at least according to the authors of frontier literature, it is only necessary to read the descript ions of each in Coopers The Praire and Sarmientos Facundo: From the summits of the swells, the eye became fatigued with the sameness and chilling dreariness of the landscape. The earth was not unlike the ocean, when its restless waters are heaving heavil y, after the agitation and fury of the tempest have begun to lessen. There was the same


33 waving and regular surface, the same absence of foreign objects, and the same boundless extent to the view. Indeed so very striking was the resemblance between the water and the land, that, however much the geologist might sneer at so simple a theory, it would have been difficult for a poet not to have felt that the formation of the one had been produced by the subsiding dominion of the other Here and there a tall tree ros e out of the bottoms, stretching its naked branches abroad, like some solitary vessel; and, to strengthen the delusion, far in the distance, appeared two or three rounded thickets, looming in the misty horizon like islands resting on the waters (Cooper 13) All la inmensidad por todas partes: inmensa la llanura, inmensos los bosqu es, inmensos los ros, el horiz onte siempre incierto, siempre confundindose con la tierra, entre celajes y vapores tenues, que no dejan, en la lejana perspectiva, sealar el p unto en que el mundo acaba y principia el cielo. Al sur triunfa la Pampa, y ostenta su lisa y velluda frente, infinita, sin lmite conocido, sin accidente notable: es la imagen del mar en la tierra. (Sarmiento 56 7) Immensity is the universal characterist ic of the country: the plains, the woods, the rivers, are all imme nse; and the horiz on is always undefined, always lost in a haze and delicate vapors which forbid the eye to mark the point in the distant perspective, where the land ends and the sky begins In the south, the victory remains with the plain, which displays its smooth,


34 velvet like surface unbounded and unbroken. It is the image of the sea upon the land. (Mann 9 11) An interesting twist to this description was written in Giraldess Don Segundo Sombra. The young protagonist had never seen the ocean but through his journeys on various cattle drives had become extremely familiar with the pampas. When his first view of the ocean came in sight he compared the ocean to the pampa: De pronto, una franja azul entre las pendientes de dos mdanos. Y repechamos la ltima cresta. De abajo para arriba, surga algo as como un doble cielo, ms oscuro, que vino a asentarse en espuma blanca a poca distancia de donde estbamos. Llegaba tan alto aquella pampa azul y lisa que no poda convencerme de que fuera agua (Suddenly there was a fringe of blue between the slopes of sand; we came over the last rise. From below to on high rose something like a double sky, but darker and ending, not far from where we stood, in a spume of white foam. It was a smooth blue pampa that rose so high that I could n ot believe it was water; 205; D e Ons 119). The terms employed in this work will be limited to pampa, to describe the grass lands in Argentina and Uruguay, and prairie to describe them in North America as a way of fixing the location. Originally, prairie was a French word taken from the Latin pratum meaning meadow, which implies a much smaller tract of grassland usually surrounded by trees or mountains, and thus n ot featureless. The Spanish word prado continues to carry this connotation as it is used in Spain and often signifies a public park and promenade. The word prairie existed in Middle English as prayere with the meaning of meadow. However, the English word and its meaning were lost but later re borrowed to describe the North American plains. The word pampa is a direct


35 borrowing from Quechua a ter m used to describe the immense plains of South America (Harper). Much has been written about the mesmeri zing and hyp notic effects of the pampas upon the individual crossing them. In my opening anecdote I alluded to them as a type of portal into a past civilization where a distinct and fixed placement in time becomes an unstable continuum. Jorge Luis Borges w ent even further in his short story, El sur, in which the pampa, in the end, transported the dying protagonist, Dahlman, into an alternate universe in which he could chose the manner of his own death. In describing the pampas, Borges suggests a passage t hrough time and space: Nadie ignora que el Sur empieza del otro lado de Rivadavia. Dahlman sola repetir que ello no es una convencin y que quien atraviesa esa calle entra en un mundo ms antiguo y ms firme ( Everyone knows that the South begins on the other side of Avenida Rivadavia. Dahlman had often said that that was no mere saying, that by crossing Rivadavia one entered an older and more stable world; 209; Hurley 176). As the train continues into the empty spaces Borges conjures a total feeling of displacement in the reader, much as, I imagine, an astronaut would feel as he leaves the confines of the Earths gravitational pull. Todo era vasto, pero al mismo tiempo era ntimo y, de alguna manera, secreto. En el campo desaforado, a veces no haba o tra cosa que un toro. La soledad era perfecta y tal vez hostil, y Dahlman pudo sospechar que viajaba al pasado y no slo al sur (All was vast, but at the same time intimate and somehow secret. In all the immense countryside, there would sometimes be nothi ng but a bull. The solitude was perfect, if perhaps hostile and Dahlman almost suspected that he was traveling not only into the South but into the past; 211; Hurley 177).


36 Martnez Estrada wrote of these desolate spaces: The pampa is an illusion: it is t he land of disordered adventures in the fantasy of a shallow man. Everything glides ceaselessly by, animated by an illusory motion in which nothing changes except the center of this mighty circumference. Here the coarse man discovers new beginnings; t he cu ltivated man finds his end (7) Even Giraldes makes reference to the effect of the never ending grasslands upon the psyche of the individual that traverses them: En la pampa las impresiones son rpidas, espasmdicas, para luego borrarse en la amplitude del ambiente, sin dejar huella. Animales y gente se movan como captados por una idea fija; caminar, caminar, caminar ( Impressions are swift on the pampas, disjointed, vanishing with our tracks into the enormous present. Animals and men were possessed by one fixed i dea: continual movement; 128; D e Ons 55). This idea of continual movement had differe nt directions between the two hemispheres and perhaps that is by natures design. Whirlpools rotate counter clockwise in the north and clockwise in the so uth; in the North the cold wind is that coming from the north while the cold wind in the South blows from the south. Therefore, it should not be surprising that time on the pampa would appear to move backward while in the north it marches toward the future. The difference, however, is not of a paranormal nature and deals more with the political progress of the nations. While Argentina made little progress into the pampa, the United States defined its future in a continent wide expansion with the idea that i ts future laid beyond the prairie, culminating in great and modern metropolises of millions of inhabitants each (New York City, Los Angeles, and Dallas) on either side of the Great Desert. The great metrop olis of Argentina, Buenos Aires, is the only major city of such scale therein and it stops abruptly at the grasslands.


37 It is as if time stood still upon the pampas with little progress made since Argentinas colonial era. Small villages can still be found that draw water from wells that have been drilled i nto the earth, and as for centralized power companies to provide elec tricity to the inhabitants, some are still lacking The same cannot be said for the Great Plains of the United States. Where there is a town, modern conveniences abound. For this reason o ne does not get the feeling of displacement within the space time continuum while driving across Kansas as one does while gliding on wheels made of steel through an ocean of grass into the Argentine and Uruguayan hinterlands, even though the terrains are v ery similar This is not to imply that roads do not exist in the pampa of today. But there are few main well paved highways and passenger trains are still a favorite means of commuting between the cities. B efore settlements had encroached into the prairies Mark Twain traveled by stage coach across the expansive region between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains and had a similar feeling of displacement: It was another glad awakening to fresh breezes, vast expanses of level greensward, bright sunl ight, an impressive solitude utterly without visible human beings or human habitations, and an atmosphere of such amazing magnifying properties that trees that seemed close at hand were more than three miles away (29). These trees that seemed close at hand but that were, in reality, distant underscored the fast pace in which the United States was moving into the future and civilizing the plains. The theme of continual progress was a common element in the foundational literature of the United States while the foundational texts of Argentina expressed a certain amount of trepidation in expanding civilization beyond the borders of its major metropolises.


38 CHAPTER I I THE IMAGINARY C ONTRUCT OF THE FRONTIER IN THE LITERATURE OF ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES A nations foundational texts are so named due to their direct influence on the direction of the culture of that nation and the self image that its citizens project upon themselves (Laguardia and Chevigny 1021) These texts cause the reader to wax nostal gic, to imagine themselves in the construct that the author has built and, to a great extent, rewrite actual history by placing its events into a romantic context which causes the reader to pine for the good old days. In the United States we miss the my th that is the West. We linger over the myth, wrote Robert Parker (v) We reimagine it; live out lives by its standards; aspire to be of that place and people; form policy, love and die by the myth. It is the myth of America, and it is embodied, almost always, in a man with a gun. It was Wister, and the success of The Virginian, that established the man with a gun as a cowboy. And it is the cowboy, the man with a gun, in all his manifestations, who has lingered longest and deepest in the American imagin ation. The American Western, and hence, perhaps, the American soul (if there is such a thing), mig ht well be different had Owen Wister not written The Virginian. ( v vii) The Virginian has often been called the first Western novel by a number of literary critics. However, I argue that these critics are too simplistic in assigning their criteria to the genre by overl ooking another foundational United States text, James Fenimore Coopers The Prairie which predates The Virginian by 75 years. In The


39 Prairie and its companion volumes that make up the novels that have become known as The Leatherstocking Tales Cooper had already established the nationalisti c themes and character types that would give rise to the cowboy novel: an independent spirit, the gun as a valuable tool for both taking life and sustaining life, a respect and reverence for nature, freedom of expression, national expansion, and land ownership. Mark Twain picked up on these same themes thirty years prior to the publication of Wisters novel in his account of a transcontinental trip from St. Louis to San Francisco at the commencement of the United States Civil War in Roughing It Writing as a satirical journalist he often had flareups of romantic illusions but quickly came back to his own miserable reality. Nevertheless, what he wrote, Harriet Smith informs us played a major role in shaping the myth of the Wild West, especially as perpetuated in countless novels, films, and television programs. No examination of American popular cultur e would be complete without Mark Twains imaginative reminiscence of what it was like to be on the ground in person ( xxvii). Likewise, in Facundo, Sarmiento s depiction of the gaucho helped to establish the character as a source of natio nal pride and a ffection contrary to what I believe was his intention. Sarmiento, throughout his work, paid cursory lipservice to some of the admirable traits that he found in the gaucho while in other places, he could not control his disdain for the gaucho culture or the type as a whole. After disparaging the gaucho and stating unequivocally that the gaucho lacks a natural morality Sarmiento appeared to want to soften the blow to the sensitivity of his readers who may have been sympathetic to the gaucho by offerin g faux praise: Llmanle el gaucho malo, sin que est e epteto le desfavorezca del todo. La justicia lo persigue desde muchos aos; su


40 nombre es temido, pronunciado en voz baja, sin odio y casi con respeto (The name gaucho outlaw is not applied to him wholly as an uncomplimentary epithet. The law has been for many years in pursuit of him. His name is dreaded spoken under the breath, but not in hate, and almost respectfully; 88; Mann 41). He then returns to derogatory comments. According to Ilan Stavans Sarmiento attempted to turn the gaucho into a relic or an artifact that was alien, exotic, and eradicable (xviii). While the gaucho of Sarmientos era was eventually eradicated through Argentine governmental policies, his heritage lived on in the Argen tine imagination. Even Sarmiento concedes, el espritu de la pampa est all en todos los corazones; pues, si solevantis un poco las solapas del frac con que el argentino se disfraza, hallaris siempre el gaucho ms o menos civilizado, pero siempre el gaucho ( the spirit of the pampa is there in every heart for if the lapels of the frock coat in which the Argentine disguises himself are raised a bit, one will always discover the gaucho, more or less civilized, but a gaucho nonetheless ; 246; my trans lation ). A contemporary of Sarmientos, Esteban Echeverra had a split view of the gaucho. On one hand he depicted the gaucho and his china (wife) as caring, humane and courageous in La cautiva, while o n the other hand, those outlaw gauchos that were alig ned with the dictator Rosas were depicted as blood thirsty savages in El matadero. Whereas Sarmiento appears to depict all gauchos as outlaws Echeverra takes pains to separate the outlaw from the rest of those who dwell on the pampa. Jos Hernndez, ho wever, characterizes the gaucho and campesino as misunderstood victims of the Sarmiento administration in Martn Fierro the work that is probably most responsible for putting the myth of the gaucho foremost in the national consciousness of the Argentine


41 c itizenry. Ricardo Giraldes s novel, Don Segundo Sombra, followed up on the themes that were touched on in Martn Fierro (independence, manhood, and equal justice under the law). An intriguing aspect of the frontier literature of the United Stat es and Arg entina is that, a t first glanc e the literatures of the two countries appear to mir ror one another. They are both set in a period of nation building with personalities that possess many of the same traits. Ho wever, a deep contrast exists in the common the mes that are employ ed especially as they relate to the treatment and disposition of nature, the problems and resolutions of race, and the political systems that grew out of nations settled by two religious traditions distinctly opposed to one another in d octrine and dogma: Catholicism and Protestantism These themes, as well as others, fomented in the authors psyches, found their way into each countrys legislative process as each sought resolutions to problems arising therefrom, turning the imagined into the reality of how the nations eventually saw themselves. Donald A. Ringe, in his Introduction to the Penguin Classics 1988 edition of The Pioneers wrote: In 1823, Americans were deeply concerned with developing a distinctively American literature. It was generally thought that it should depict the realities of American experience, and novelists like Cooper and poets like William Cullen Bryant naturally sought their subjects in the world about them. But that world was, in their view, instinct and meani ng. Hence, if the writer truly depicted the world as it was not literally but in its


42 fundamental nature he could not fail to discern in it and communicate to his readers significant national themes. (ix) The same can be said of Latin American authors. As these writers looked at the world about them and saw the national drama playing out before their eyes they took pen to paper, casting fictional characters int o the world as they saw it. This in turn, forced the reading public to take notice of the i njustices about them and created a populist sentiment that the government could not ignore. In this thesis I distinguish three eras in the development of frontier literature: t he formative era (1820 1860) when the frontier was being pushed from the Atlant ic regions o f both the United States and Argentina i nto the interior of the country; the established era (18601890) which brought the heydays of cattle drives and wandering cowboys and gauchos looking for work on to the big cattle ranches; an d the twilight era (18901930) marking the en d of the traditional cowboy, gaucho and frontiersman. Likewise, Gustavo Prez Firmat, taking a cue from James Fenimore Coopers Home as Found, enumerated three principle episodes or chapters in the development of the maste rplot found in frontier literature: discovery (person comes upon place), foun dation (place becomes property ), and estrangement (person falls away from place). Perz Firmat categorizes these steps in the overall plot as chapters in an elliptical narrative that deals with two principle characters or actors person and place that illustrate mans relationship to the land (6). The eras that I have chosen deal more with the attitudes prevalent in society during the years attributed to them, yet each work written within these eras follows the masterplot outlined by Perz Firmat.


43 The texts that I have chosen to represent the chronological timetable as given above are as follows: for the formative era I chose The Pioneers (1823), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), The Prairie (1827), The Pathfinder (1840), and The Deerslayer (1841) all by James Fenimore Cooper and with the same protagonist, Natty Bumppo. This series of novels would come to be known as The Leather stocking Tales foundational texts of the United States The Argentine texts employed for the same era are Esteban Echeverras La cautiva (1837) and El matadero (1839) along with Domingo F. Sarmientos Facundo: c ivilizacin y barbrie (1845). For the middle era of frontier literature I ch ose Mark Twains Roughing It (1872) and El gaucho Martn Fierro (1872) along with its sequel La vuelta de Martn Fierro (1879) by Jos Hernndez. Finally, for the twilight era I rely on the novels Don Segundo Sombra (1926) by Ricardo Giraldes and Owen Wis ters The Virginian (1902). These texts clearly show the progression of the national themes in the countries that they respectively represent. James Fenimore Cooper was clearly the precursor of all of these authors, both in the United States and in Argenti na. A lice Gleason in a publishers note to the 2007 Dover edition of The Deerslayer confirms this: the Leather stocking Saga, was sufficiently original to initiate a new genre, the frontier novel, which evolved into what we call the western. Natty Bumpp o is almost surely the prototype for Billy Budd, Huck Finn, Davy Crockett and hundreds of cowboy heroes (iv). It was also evident that the Argentine generation of 1837, which included both Sarmiento and Echeverra, was also heavily influenced by Cooper s writings, both in his ability to make nature a main character in his novels and in his formulaic narrative of life in the border lands between civilization and ba rbarism (Sarmiento 76 ). Ricardo Giraldes s story telling formula appears, in many


44 respects, to mirror the formula for frontier literature that Cooper employed. He nicely summed up this formula, which does nothing more than mimic real life, in the words of his protagonist : No hay caminos sin repechos, no hay suerte sin desgracias (Theres no roa d without a turn, no destiny without tears; 263; D e Ons 170). S armiento admitted to Coopers influence in his own representation of the gaucho in Facundo when he asserted, no es otra la razn de hallar en Fenimore Cooper descripciones de usos y costumbr es que parecen plagiadas de la Pampa ( This explains our finding in Coopers works accounts of practices and customs which seem plagiarized from the pampas; 77; Mann 30). Cooper could well be called the father of all the frontier literature of the Wester n Hemisphere The Authors of Frontier Literature and How They Shaped the Development of Their Respective Countries As a first point of consideration, in the highly stereotypical portrayal of the characters in frontier literature, the reader needs to be aware of the tendency to romanticize the type by educated authors, who had little or no contact with the peopl e they were portraying. Their sole desire was to tell a good story in the midst of the national drama being pla yed out in the countries capita ls and the effect it had on its citizens in the interior. These authors commonly used their account s to express a political or social commentary as was the case with Facundo: c ivilizacin y barbarie which often turned into a diatribe again st the Argentine dictator Rosas and The Virginian, which extolled the virtues of the western United States and the administration of Theodore Roosevelt while furthering the conception that Frederick Jackson Turner had of the West But for the most part these educated, city dwelling au thors romanticized the


45 frontier and re imagined it into what would become an anachronistic and perceived historical reality When James Fe nimore Cooper wrote The Prairie he had never seen it; neither had Domingo F. Sarmiento ever seen the Pampa before writing Facundo: c ivilizacin y barbarie (Sherman Vivian 806). Jos Hernndezs and Ricardo Giraldes s exposure to Gaucho culture were those of outsiders. Even Owen Wister and Zane Grey had Ivy League educations. Wister was of the highest ed ucated, the most aristocratic background it was possible for America to produce at the end of the nineteenth century wrote Max Evans (374). A notable exception was the life of Louis LAmour who, during the twentieth century, was the most prolific and prob abl y the most authentic writer of f rontier fiction in the United States. LAmour grew up never having a formal school room education; but, nevertheless, he acquired an insatiable appetite for the history of the frontier His mother had training as a sch ool teacher, teaching him to read and write. LAmour never attended an institution of higher learning. He grew up with the characters that he portrayed in his novels and short stories, worked in the mines of Arizona and Nevada, worked on ranches, had a sti nt on the boxing circuit, and for a while lived life as a hobo. Yet all of these authors including LAmour, contributed to the romanticized, stereotyped individual s that we came to know as the gaucho, the cowboy, and the f rontiersman. Donald A. Ringe, in an article published in the journal, American Literature wrote, To understand these themes, however, one must read the romances in the spirit in which they were written and seek in the central actions of the books the poetic truth which they were design ed to express (357). Doris Sommer, in her comparative work


46 Foundational Fictions concurs: All U.S. fiction of the nineteenth century can be called some variety of romance (26). I would argue that the same is true of the gaucho liter ature of Argentina and Uruguay, which had many of the same themes in common. The themes in all frontier literature often pitted the civilized against the barbarian, the educated against the ignorant, the rich against the poor, the law against the lawless, the government agai nst a disadvantaged populace, and in many instances, men against women. These were the themes, the challenges and subsequent attempts at resolutions that gave birth to the nations as we know them today. In another place in her work Sommer states In the U nited States, it has been argued, the country and the novel practically gave birth to each other. And the same can be said of the South, as long as we take consolidation rather than emancipation to be the real moment of birth in both Americas (12). These romances, in the form of frontier literature, planted in the mind s of the reader s idealistic vision s of what their respective nation s were then and what they would become ( romantic vision s that Benedict Anderson termed imaginary communities ) These idea listic visions transformed the actual reality of the countries into ideal s perceived by the citizenry of the nation s to be the truth. Anderson contended that nations imagine themselves largely through the medium of a sacred language and written script (20). In contemplating the importance that a written language plays in the formation o f a nations self identity he writes: Why this transformation should be so important for the birth of the imagined community of the nation can best be seen if we consider the basic structure of two forms of imagining which first flowered in Europe in the eighteenth century: the novel and the newspaper. For these forms


47 provided the technical means for representing the kind of imagined community that is the nation. (30) Imagination took root in words, flowing from the mind s speculative eye through anxious pens and spilling onto the eternal papers of authors far removed from the sources that they were describing, setting both the western United States and the pamp as of A rgentina in a mythical landscape that, in turn, became part of the imagination of those vent uring into the wild regions, slowly transforming what was imagined into a perceived reality. The Native American writer, N. Scott Momady, in an interview conducted for Ken Burns award winning documentary film, The West said of the western United States: It is a dream. It is what people who have come here from the beginning of time have dreamed. Its a dream landscape. To the Native American its full of sacred real ities. Powerful things! Its a landscape that has to be seen to be believed; and I say on occasion, it may have to be believed in order to be seen. Always when people came into t his landscape, we call the West; they brought with them a necessity to imagine it. One of the reasons for this, I think, is simply the vastness. When one looks at the Grand Canyon, for example, its endlessly mysterious. You feel the silence coming up and enveloping you and you know that there are places there where no one has ever been. This romanticized contemporary view of the United States West lies in stark contrast to the view of the pampa regions by modern Argentine thinkers, which are portrayed as dismal and lonely places, more akin to Dantes second circle of Hell than a


48 place that engenders inspiration or dreamscapes, with a wind that blows away any seeds of camaraderie or anything unnatural to its environs (Martnez Estrada 145). Thus, in this region, what man calls progress is nothing more than a far away and nave pipedream All that dominion of nature, wrote Ezequiel Martnez Estrada, enclosures in which land defends its intact minerals, flora, and fauna, are the boundaries where the son of the plains [the Native American] was cast out and where he will be exti nguished (149). The difference between these two opposing views of a very similar topography, I believe, is owed to the very early existence of a vigorous free press in the United States that could squelch the dissenting voices against expansionist sent iment emanating from the halls of congress. In the end it was this power of the press that won the hearts and imaginations of its citizens and sent them in droves into the West and, at last, forced the legislators in Washington D.C. to capitulate to the d emands for assistance by the settlers In Argentina the press was not as strong and independent. The government had a much stronger grip on the published word, sending many with opposing views into exile as Rosas did to Sarmiento and as Sarmiento later d id to Hernndez. According to Merle Simmons: Donde hay una prensa fuerte y vigorosa, hay civilizacin; donde no hay prensa o donde la prensa es dbil o est coh ibida, no existe civilizacin (Where there is a strong and vigorous press, there is civilizat ion; where there is no press or where the press is weak or is inhibited civilization does not exist ; 73) So it was that when some began voicing opinions about expansion into the pampas it was seen as an affront to the strict control of Spain. By discour aging immigration away from the seaports and into the interior Spain could exercise more control over its subjects and more easily squelch any dissenting sentiments. As a r esult, many pueblos of the pampas, even to this day, do not


49 enjoy the comforts and conveniences that are had in the prairie towns of the United States due to the lack of support from Buenos Aires In the United States Frederick Jackson Turner, in a speech in 1914, delineated the appeal of United States citizens going b eyond the front ier and into the wilderness in the following terms: The appeal of the undiscovered is strong in America. For three centuries the fundamental process in its history was the westward movement, the discovery and occupation of the vast free spaces of the conti nent The free land and the natural resources seemed practically inexhaustible. Nor were they aware of the fact that their most fundamental traits, their institutions, even their ideals were shaped by this interaction between the wilderness and themselves (245) In this speech Turner intimates that it was the expansionist sentiment of the citizens, the boosterism of the press, and the independence of the populace that fostered the ideals of the United States brand of democracy, making it a success to be envied throughout the world. It was the beg inning of the United States attitude of exceptionalism. After all it was these people that first conquered and civilized an entire continent from sea to shining sea. It was a feat that Domingo F. Sarmiento att empted to emulate in Argentina, but in which he failed. Writing in Facundo: c ivilizacin y barbarie he blamed the center of governmental and economic power in Buenos Aires: La barbarie y la violencia bajaron a Buenos Aires ms all del nivel de las provinc ias. No hay que quejarse de Buenos Aires, que es grande y lo ser ms, porque as le cupo en suerte. Debiramos quejarnos antes de la


50 Providencia, y pedirle que rectifique la configuracin de la tierra. No siendo esto posible, demos por bien hecho lo que d e mano de Maestro est hecho. Quejmonos de la ignorancia de este poder brutal que esteriliza para s y para las provincias los dones que natura prodig al pueblo que extrava. Buenos Aires, en lugar de mandar ahora luces, riqueza y prosperidad al interior mndale slo cadenas, hordas exterminadores y tiranuelos subalternos. Tambin se venga del mal que las provincias le hicieron con prepararle a Rosas! (5960) Barbarism and violence have sunk Buenos Ayres below the level of the provinces. We ought not to complain of Buenos Ayres that she is great and will be greater, for this is her destiny. This would be to complain of Providence and call upon it to alter physical outlines. This being impossible, let us accept as well done what has been done by the Masters hand. Let us rather blame the ignorance of that brutal power which makes the gifts lavished by Nature upon an erring people of no avail for itself or for the provinces. Buenos Ayres, instead of sending to the interior, light, wealth, and prosperity, sends only chains, exterminating hordes, and petty subaltern tyrants. She, too, takes her revenge for the evil inflicted upon her by the provinces when they prepared for her a Rosas! ( Mann 13) Sarmiento believed that the pampa was topographically situ ated i n such a manner as to provide a fertile field, ripe for germination, to the sowing and reaping of despots and tyrants; las llanuras preparaban las vas al despotismo (the plains prepare the way for despotism ; 61; Mann 14) and he erected Rosas who expl oited and used the gaucho in


51 order to further his ruthless rule as a model for his thesis in order to advance the argument for the civilization of the plains However, in the mind of Jos Hernndez Sarmiento, as President of Argentina, was not much better than Rosas. The difference was that Rosas indoctrinated the gaucho toward his goals establishing a policy of protectionism in Argentina and accentuated the centralized role that Buenos Aires played in national politics but his success came at th e expense of freedom, democracy, and human rights (Stavans xxiii iv ). On the other hand, Sarmiento became known as an advocate of intellectual clarity and sophistication (xxiv), secretly wishing for the gauchos annihilation but, as a socialist (accor ding to Stavans ) and thinking of his future legacy, capitulated to his precarious survival by making him a serf to rich land barons and strongly supporting the city over the country, as a locus of reason and morality (xviii) Hernndez, writing from his refuge in Brazil, used his ep ic poem Martn Fierro now considere d the foremost foundational fiction of Argentina, as a platform in order to offer a rebuke of Sarmientos policies concerning the gaucho. Estaba el gaucho en su pago con toda sigurid; pero aura barbarid! la cosa anda tan fruncida, que gasta el pobre la vida en juir de la autorid. (25358) A gauchod live in his home country as safe as anything, but now its a crime!


52 things have got to be so twisted that a poor man wears out his life running from the authorities. (Ward 25358) This poetic work, written in the dialect and manner of the gaucho, was an instant success in Argentina, bringing the plight of the gaucho to the forefront of Argentine consciousness and esta blishing an enduring national emblem and literature. Hernndez wrote, at the end of his La vuelta de Martn Fierro: me tendrn en su memoria / para siempre mis paisanos (my countrymen will keep me / forever in their memories; 2. 488182; Ward 2. 488182) With the publication of Martn Fierro the plight of the gaucho and the subsequent adoption of this work as a foundational text of Argentina and Uruguay this statement became a self fulfilling prophecy. Cowboy and Gaucho Poetry Frontier poetry, in both English and Spanish, although most often penned by the educated class, is probably the most authentic of all frontier literature inasmuch as the structure, verse, and often the very words used were handed down in an oral tradition from the inhabitants of t he frontier who could neither read nor write, and, in the case of written Gaucho Poetry, the structure was improved upon in syllabic structure in order to standardize the medium in conformity with the, already established, norms utilized in Spanish poetry such as: eight syllable meters, six and ten line stanzas, and couplets. In the published study of Gaucho poetry, El Martn Fierro by Jorge Luis Borges and Margarita Guerrero a clear distinction is made between la poesa gauchesca (poetry written in the gaucho dialect by educated individuals) and the poe try invented originally by the g aucho, often at a moments notice and as the occasion called for, handed down in the oral


53 tradition (13). One way this tradition was practiced is characterized in a folkloric dance, el prado, described by Giraldes in Don Segundo Sombra: Una muchacha cant Un hombre tena que contestar con una relacin, porqu e era de uso (One of the girls sang. A man had to improvise an answer in rhymed couplet s for thats the custom; 158 ; D e Ons 80). Detailing the customs of the gauchos was important to Ricardo Giraldes and Don Segundo Sombra, after all, is an affirmation of faith in the positive values of the foundations, the historic and social origins of Argentina. Its interest lie s in what is being lived, not in what the author narrates (D e Ons 220). Cowboy poetry, on the other hand, comes to us in written form most often rough and nonstructured except in simple rhyming schemes. Hal Cannon, in his introduction to the anthology Cowboy Poetry: a Gathering, asserts, At the heart of cowboy poetry is the memorized performance of traditional poems. These recitations are not monotone bastards of well known cowboy songs, but are based instead on an oral tradition of performance in bo th the old and new West. In the written form, every effort to mimic the dialect of the individual speaking is painstakingly thought out. In the United States the master of dialectical writing was Mark Twain; before he came on the scene, in 1872, with his novel Roughing It a literary aficionado would be hard pressed to find an author that mimicked the authentic voice of the people he characterized Cooper attempted it but was not consistent in its application. Quoting Charles Dudley Warner, Harriet Elinor Smith defended Twains use of slang, stating that the life in the mining camps would be entirely imperfect if it had been left out (xxvii). In capturing Gaucho speech the first to use this type of dialectical spelling was the Uruguayan poet, Bartolom H idalgo and it must be argued that without the use of the dialectic gaucho literature would have fallen


54 short of the authenticity of the subject being portrayed In El Martn Fierro Jorge Luis Borges explained the importance of utilizing an authentic voic e: En mi corta experiencia de narrador he comprobado que saber quin es, que descubrir una entonacin, una voz, una sintaxis peculiar, es haber descubierto un destino (In my short experience as a narrator I have demonstrat ed that to know who it is, that to discover an intonation, a voice, a peculiar syntax, i s to have discovered a destiny; 17). It is the weaving togethe r of the melodious sounds of a campfire and a natural ambience, the careful consideration of every word used in the recitation of the p oem, and even the dialect of the performer that makes frontier poetry such an enduring and authentic medium of expression. Hal Cannon explained how all of those elements combine to enthrall the listener: The poet is always in search of the best language, t he most perfect language, for his subject matter and for his personal poetic intent. In the case of cowboy poetry this means a language which reflects light and smell and open places, hard times and soft evenings; a language coded with insiders words, spe cial phrases and mea nings, and shared values (Intro ). These insiders words are typically words and phrases peculiar to the job that the cowboy performs; it is a special jargon that ranges from a horse s characteristics to mild pejoratives for the ine xperienced plainsman, and often employing bad transliterations of Spanish words. A novice on the plains, upon hearing the following verse by an anonymous poet, would have a difficult time understanding what it was that the cowboy poet was saying:


55 But tak e your dallywelters According to California law. And youll never see your Sam Stack tree Go driftin down the draw. ( Windy Bill 4548) However, once the uninitiated understands that a dallywelter is a transliteration of the Spanish dale vuelta (turn around) and that a Sam Stack tree is an old style saddle named for its maker, the gist of the verse becomes much clearer. It is this authentic voice, in both the frontier literatures of the United States and Argentina, combined with carefully craf ted political commentary that reflected published newspaper accounts of the day and a mysterious, other worldly landscape that brought out the dreamer in the readers of frontier literature, allowing the readers to adopt the visions of the artist, who paint ed his literary canvas with the flowery verse and prose of a master Most novels of the nineteenth century were a mixture of illusion, fact, and fantasy that colored the readers perceptions of the whole reality. These readers would pass the stories as fac ts down to their children who in turn would pass them to their children. Before long the legends and attitudes of these authors became a perceived reality and even, until recently, taught as historical truth in the educational systems of the countries. Per haps this is because the imagined reality was easier and more pleasant than the actual history.


56 CHAPTER II I PSYCHOLOGICAL ARCHETYPE S AND COMPLEXES IN THE VIEW OF NATURE IN THE FRONTIE R LITERATURE OF THE UNITED S TATES AND ARGENTINA Domingo F. Sarmien to contended, Modificaciones anlogas del suelo traen anloga s costumbres, recursos y expedientes (Analogies in the soil bring with them analogous customs, resources, and expedients; 77; Mann 30). To bolster the argument he listed a series of parallel technologies employed in the writings of James Fenimore Cooper against the forces of nature, expedients naturally used in both the prairie and the pampa: the use of bow and arrow by the native inhabitants, the damming up of a brook in order to recover t he trail left in a stream by of a band of fleeing Indians, setting a backfire as a prevention against being consumed by the flames of a prairie conflagration the making of an animal skin raft in order to cross a raging river in relative safety, and even t he manner of roasting a buffalo hump in the desert Sarmiento contended that these are the same practices that the frontiersmen of Argentina would have employed ( 77). John Donahue, ho wever, doesnt find Sarmientos comparisons to be ve ry compelling : Natur ally, people with parallel customs have produced similar bodies of literature, he wrote, but the mythic underpinnings of that literature are not necessarily the same (166). Gari LaGuardia and Bell Gale Chevigny also considered Sarmientos argument to be on its surface, too simplistic, a greeing with Donahue that authors in the United States and Latin America particularly in the nineteenth century, often begin their contemplation of nature from comparable ideological positions. T hey, nevertheless, prov ide supporting statements that these same writers often end up in different conceptual spaces The composers of United States literature, they write, confront


57 nature as a space destined to fuse with the American self as it inevitably actualizes its pr edestined dreams by making themselves one with the environment around them Therefore, they view nature as a presence that is actualized by, even as it actualizes, the self that contemplates it O n the other hand, Argentine authors diverge from the roma nticists view and shy away from an unmediated encounter. American nature, whether hated or loved, dominant or dominating, is always constituted at a distance from the self (10). The stark differences in the attitudes toward nature, between the United States and Latin America, can be traced back to the mythic underpinnings of the people that initially settled the wilderness areas of their respective domains. To understand these mythic element s it will be necessary to penetrate in to the psychological r ealms, to interpret the archetypes conjured from the unconscious of these individuals, to examine examples from th e texts of the various authors of frontier literature that serve as a basis of this work. According to Carl Jung every human being is born wit h a collective unconscious that is identical in every individual ever born; the archetype breaks forth from this unconscious. H e defines the archetype as essentially an unconscious content that is altered by becoming conscious and by being perceived and i t takes its color from the individual consciousness in which it happens to appear. The individual consciousness colors it in accordance with its relations with myth, esoteric teachings, and fairytale which in turn ar e handed down from our progenitors a nd those in whose charge we were placed during our formative years of life in the way of tradition; thus the archetype is a paradigm of a universal order that is altered by ones own colored perceptions ( Archetypes 5).


58 A persons thoughts are a conglomer at ion of all those around him, as well as those from his past, including ancestors long since deceased ; therefore, it is no wonder that those of the North American continent, who were mostly of English and Germanic stock had an almost divine respect for n ature, religiously revered it and, by so doing, had a measure of control over it utilizing this control for both good and bad. T heir ancestors the earth worshipping druids, derived their myths and superstitions from a belief that certain powerful witches and wizards within their ranks had the capability to direct the forces of nature. After the advent of the spread of Christianity into the British and Germ anic realms which promulgated the old M osaic dictum, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live (Exod. 22.18) adverse weather patterns were attributed directly to sorcery. Even though the Catholic Church scoffed at the idea that nature could be controlled by humans, witches or not, at the Council of Brega in 563 Wolfgang Behringer writes that the belief i n weather malevolence was so strong, as a carry over from pagan antiquity that virtually all Germanic law codes professed a belief in weather magic and contained proscriptions against it (4). Emily Oster points out a reversal of the Church s stand in 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII in his Papal Bull, the Malleus Malleficarum : This book was instrumental in codifying the existing beliefs about witches, their powers and actions. It gave specific guidelines about how suspected witches should be questioned un til they confessed of their crimes. In addition, it calls our attention to the extant beliefs about witchcraft, weather making and crop destruction at this time (217). I n large part these beliefs were responsible for the persecution leveled against witc hes during the little ice age especially in England, France, and Germany from the fourteenth to the end of the eighteenth centuries who were blamed for the


59 deteriorating crops and bitter cold. These beliefs were passed down through gene rations, and reinforced in the Anglo Saxon occupiers of the United States as they encountered sorcerers, known as Medicine Men, within the ranks of the native inhabitants of the land who called for rain dances during time s of drought. Thus being faced with a culture that aligned more closely with the old pre Christian belief system of their ancestors and a view that gave credence to the myths from their own past, by experiencing phenomena that their understanding of Christianity could not readily explain, the old arc hetypes surfaced and became dominant in the way the pioneers viewed nature. Therefore, the belief that humans could control their own fate in the hands of Mother Nature, that she was not a vindictive mother but rather a loving matriarch that allowed her ch ildren to sometimes learn hard lessons, lessened the fear that the frontiersmen had of going into the wilderness to confront the Great Mother head on The Spanish as part of the Mediterranean tradition and culture, had a much more realistic view and fear of nature and were mo re often disposed to interject the whim of the gods (or God ) as a means to explain natures phenomena In New Science the Italian philosopher, Giambattista Vico, explains the fearful image of Nature in relation to the pagan Roman pant heon: The first theological poets invented the first divine myth, which was the greatest myth ever invented: Jupiter, the king and father of gods and men, in the act of hurling a thunderbolt. The figure of Jupiter was so poetic that is, popular, exciting and instructive that its inventors at once believed it, and they feared, revered, and worshipped Jupiter in frightful religions. They believed that


60 Jupiter commanded by signs, that these signs were physical words, and that nature was Jupiters languag e. (147) Nature was seen as the fearful language of God. It was how God admonished humans or blessed them. Throughout early Mediterranean literature t he harsh realities of nature were not tamped down nor were they romanticized, but rather they were bitterl y endured while being explained away by an association with divinity This is readily observable in Homers The Iliad and The Odyssey. Nature was to be feared and respected, not tamed; for according to their belief, one cannot dictate the will of God whi ch controlled Nature. This, along with a firm belief in the doctrine of predestination, probably explains the often repeated and extremely common refrain, si Dios quiere (God willing), as a response to any question concerning future plans. In this sense archetypal projections of nature played a significant role in the differing views held by the settlers of the two hemispheres. No two archetypal projections of nature are strictly identical but there are commonal ities between certain projections which al low psychologists to categorize them by assigning like characteristics under a specific heading of archetypa l genres. Because nuances ex ist in each individual projection of the archetype, minute traces of crossover characteristics appear in each grouping. Therefore, in comparing the frontier literatures view s of nature in the United States and Argentina one should not be surprised to find trace elements of one projection creeping into another Though the frontier literature of the United States produced th e romantics view of nature, minute instances of strict realism can be found therein (Gleason iii). Thus the reader finds a severely conflicted Cooper who, personally, was predisposed to look favorably on the progress of


61 civilization while, at the same time, opposed the march of progress and expressed the counterargument in the character of Natty Bumppo (Nevius xi). Speaking of the dismal waste and apparent uselessness of the pr airie Natty interjects the realist s view into the romantics vision: Yo u may travel weeks, and you will see it the same. I often think the Lord has placed this barren belt of Prairie, behind the States, to warn men to what their folly may yet bring the land (Cooper, Prairie 24). I n the same way flare ups of romanticism can be discovered in the harshly realistic frontier literature of Arg entina At one point in his narrative Martn Fierro remarks Yo hago en el trbol mi cama / y me cubren las estrellas (I make my bed in the clover / and the stars cover me; Hernndez 101 2; Ward 1012), and then later repines : Es triste en medio del campo pasarse noches enteras contemplando en sus carreras las estrellas que Dios cra, sin tener ms compaa que su soled y las fieras. (Hernndez 1. 146368) Its a sad thing to spend whole nights out in the midst of the plain, gazing at the stars that God created, in their course, without any company except the wild beasts, and your loneliness. (Ward 1. 146368)


62 Writers of frontier fiction in the United States like the Native Amer ican s dre w their metaphors from the clouds, the seasons, the birds, the beasts, and the vegetable world (Cooper, Mohicans 4) while the similes of Argentine authors are more apt to be based on hard experience, as in the case of the young gaucho in Don Se gundo Sombra: Creo que la aficin de mi padrino a la soledad de ba influir en m; la cosa es que, rememorando episodios de mi andar, esas perdidas libertad es en la pampa me parecan lo me jor. No importaba que el pensamiento lo tuviera medio dolorido empa pado de pesimismo, como queda empapada de sangre la matra que ha chupado el dolor de una matadura ( My godfathers love of solitude may have influenced me, for as I looked back on my wandering life, these deep communions with the silent pampa seemed the b est of it all. It did not matter that thoughts were somewhat unhappy and soaked in gloom, the way a saddle blanket gets soaked in blood from a wound ; Giraldes 25 5; D e Ons 163). These various conception s of nature in the minds of United States and Argen tine a uthors can best be explained by analyzing The Great Mother archetype proposed by Carl Jung. The Projection of the Great Mother Archetype onto Nature The Mother Complex Earth is our mother. We are her children. The environmentalists and naturalists have told us this from time immemorial. W e hear it, and it is reinforced in the terms Mo ther Nature and Mother Earth. It lies at the very base of our J udeo Christian belief system with the early declaration by Moses that we were formed of the dust o f the ground (Gen. 2.7) and reinforced by the Apostle Paul, claiming that we also bear the image of the earth since our first father was of the earth (1 Cor. 15. 4749) giving us a


63 direct genealogical line to her. She (the earth) then, by reason of our ow n dogma, could rationally be called our great matriarch, our Great Mother. H er elements form our makeup. The idea of the earth as mother permeates our collective psyche both consciously and unconsciously. Upon arriving on the American continent and coming face to face with a Native American culture that believed in a very literal interpretation of the same idea the immigrant, then, had the view of earth as mother confirmed to them. Frontier literature, then, would be incomplete without paying homage to the mother archetype projected upon her by its authors This arc hetype is prevalent in both United States and Argentine literature. Wister, in The Virginian, wrote of the narrators return from the bustle of the city into a natural environment: To leave behi nd all noise and mechanisms, and set out at ease, slowly, with one packhorse, into the wilderness, made me feel that the ancient earth was indeed my mother and that I had found her again after being lost among houses, customs, and restraints (278), thus e voking images of a prodigal returning to the loving embrace and psychological security that a caring and generous mothers home provides. On the other hand, the archetype conjured by the Argentine author of the period projects the more n egative attributes of a haggish and cruel mother: La tierra es madre de todos, / pero tambin da ponzoa (The earth is mother to us all / but she gives us poisons too), penned Hernndez (2.34748; Ward 2.34748) Carl Jung describes two contrasting mother complexes as a result of the archetype bursting out of the unconscious mind, and, by way of extension, projecting itself upon the image of Nature as mother, picking up the prejudices of the conscious as it travels to the surface of thought in the form of positive and n egative attributes or personalities Using


64 memories of his own mortal mother to illustrate how these attributes may appear to the observer he writes: There was an enormous difference between my mothers two personalities. That was why as a child I often had anxiety dreams about her. By day she was a loving mother, but at night she seemed uncanny. Then she was like one of those seers who is at the same time a strange animal, like a priestess in a bears cave. Archaic and ruthless; ruthles s as truth and natur e. ( Memories 50) Jung was able to see the whole of the persona; whereas, t oo often, as frail humanity, we look back at episodes or people in our lives, and sketch our memories of them in either black or white, which keeps us from placing them in their true context and getting the full picture of what they truly are. This is what the early writers of frontier literature did. For United States authors the earth and nature were filled with wonder, causing them to emphasize the positive attributes of Mother N ature F or Argentine authors she was an overbearing and cruel mother ; thus, they concentrated on her negative attributes Except for rare occasions, both groups of authors lost sight of the fact that nature is not only harmonious, she is also dreadfully contradictory and chaotic ( Memories 229). Now that we have seen how the mother complex is projected upon the relationship of humankind to nature it will prove beneficial to enumerate the positive and negative aspects that Jung placed upon that complex T he positive mother complex takes the shape of


65 the mother love which is one of the most moving and unforgettable memories of our lives, the mysterious root of all growth and change; the love that means homecoming, shelter, and the long silence from which everything begins and in which everything ends. Intimately known and yet strange like Nature, lovingly tender and yet cruel like fate, joyous and untiring giver of life... the accidental carrier of that great experience which includes herself and myself an d all mankind, and indeed the whole of created nature, the experience of life whose children we are. ( Archetypes 92) This is the mother complex that invades the psyche of the English descendants of the ancient earth worshippers those who are the wr iters of United States frontier fiction. They seek out Mother Nature as a refuge from the storms of life, placing their characters in the embrace of her healthgiving and protective arms, and in some cases, even symbolically returning to her womb in order to be reborn. When the Virginian started his new life as a married man he took his bride to meet the only mother he related to, Nature. This was a special place a womblike enclosure in the middle of a mountain forest protected by an amniotic barrier of pure water. Often when I have camped here, he told his bride, it has made me want to become the ground, become the trees, mix with the whole thing. Not know myself from it. Never unmix again (Wister 363). In a combined mix between baptism and the marriage ceremony that hearkens back to ancient pagan rituals, m an and wife chastely bathe together in the same stream at opposite ends of the enclosure in the life giving waters and are reborn as one with each other and the earth. Albert Gelpi sees the same connection to the earth as mother in the opening chapter


66 of Coopers The Deerslayer Natty and Hurry Harry hack their way out of the tangled labyrinth of the Great Mothers maw or belly. The description acknowledges the awesome solemnity of the eternal round of the Great Mothers economy but acknowledges as well the threat to the individual snared in her dark and faceless recesses and unable to cut his way free (85) Cooper here seems to imply that somehow humankind, despite the constant fight for freedom and individualism, despite the displacement of the natural order with concrete and asphalt, are still tethered to the Great Mother by a symbolic umbilical cord that continues to draw those rebelling against M other Nature back into her womb, thus never comp letely severing the psychological connection he has with her. For she is primarily a generous mother endowed with curative powers for the body and soul and can even be the object of love, wrote Donahue He observes that in The Virginian nature is frequen tly portrayed as a healing mother, b est illustrated by Wister himself who had first come to Wyoming to recuperate from an illness, and when the eastern narrator is sick, his cowboy friend writes him that the best cure is a hunting trip out West (173). In contrast to the positive mother complex that is projected upon nature by the authors of frontier literature in the United States the Argentine authors of the genre appear to project upon themselves a negativ e mother complex Jung describes this comple x as a pathological phenomenon that is unpleasant, exacting, and an ything but satisfactory partner (sic). He continues by stating that those afflicted by this complex rebel in every fiber of the ir being against everything that springs from natural s oil and even at their best they will remain hostile to all that is dark, unclear, and ambiguous, and will cultivate and emphasize everything certain and clear and reasonable. According


67 to Jung, however, those who project this negative mother complex have the best opportunity to be an outstanding success during the second half of life but only after they have lived out their complex to the full and have drunk down to the dregs. The bearer of this complex, Jung informs his reader, started out with av erted face, like Lots wife looking back on Sodom and Gomorrah. And all the while the world and life pass by her like a dream an annoying source of illusions, disappointments, and irritations, all of which are due solely to the fact that she cannot bring herself to look straight ahead for o nce ( Archetypes 9899). Sarmiento lamented the backward looking inclinations of the Argentine republic and its people and, at least in respect to the adventurous position of sallying forth into nature held by the colo nizers of the United States, opined that the Argentine government should look forward instead of over its shoulder at the policies of Spain making the vast exte nt of the pampa work for them which, he explained, could easily be done by navigating the man y rivers into the interior. Instead, he blasts the government at Buenos Aires, for its poltica estpida y colonial (senseless colonial policy) inherited from Spain : No fue dado a los espaoles el instinto de la navegacin, que poseen en tan alto grad o los sajones del norte. Otro espritu se necesita que agite esas arterias en que hoy se estagnan los fluidos vivificantes de una nacin. Bajo un clima benigno, seora de la navegacin de cien ros que fluyen a sus pies, reclinada muellemente sobre un inm enso territo rio, y con trece provi n cias interiores que no conocen otra salida para sus productos, fuera ya la babilonia Americana, si el espritu de la Pampa no hubiese soplado


68 sobre ella, y si no ahogase en sus f uentes el tributo de riqueza que los ros y las provincias tienen que llevarle siempre (5859) The instinct of the sailor, which the Saxon colonists of the north possess in so high a degree, was not bestowed upon the Spaniard. Another spirit is needed to stir these arteries in which a nations lif e blood now lies stagnant. Under a benignant climate, mistress of the navigation of a hundred rivers flowing past her feet, covering a vast area, and surrounded by [thirteen] inland provinces which know no other outlet for their products, she would ere no w have become the Babylon of America, if the spirit of the Pampa had not breathed upon her, and left undeveloped the rich offerings which the rivers and provinces should unceasingly bring. (Mann 12) After all, it was the inland rivers and tributaries that expedited the exploration and unification of the United States from the Atlantic to the Pacific. It was the adventurous nontimid spirit of the Mother Nature loving English, French, Dutch and German that diluted any fears that they may have harbored in l eaving civilization in order to set out into the unknown. The spirit that Sarmiento attributed to Spanish heredity made the frontiersmen of Argentina fearful of the unknown, making them more c autious and anxious about lea ving the safety and security of the city. Jos Hernndez sums this fear up nicely in Martn Fierro when he has his protagonist offer the observation, porque el cardo ha de pinchar / es que nace con espina (the reason a thistle pricks you / is because its born with thorns ; 2.35960; War d 2. 35960). For the Argentine author of frontier literature n ature is no friend to mankind. It is laden with danger. According to Hernndez


69 one must be wary in nature as well as in ones dealings with man, because naides sabe en qu rincn / se oculta e l que es su enemigo (you can never tell what corner / your enemy is lurking in; 2.45994600). As with the young couple in Echeverras La c autiva, those who venture forth into the wild s of the pampa live in fear; the pampa becomes a ni ghtmarish prison w here the brave heroine faces hostile natives, a grassfire, a tiger, a raging river and, after all of the horrendous tortures that nature can devise for her and her mortally wounded husband a lonely death. There is no compromise with the vindictive Mother that is Nature. For the gaucho going into the wilds Su esperanza es el coraje, su guardia es la precaucin, su pingo es la salvacin, y pasa uno en su desvelo sin ms amparo que el cielo ni otro amigo que el facn.(Hernndez 1.14391444) Courage is h is hope c aution is his protection his horse means safety and you live in watchfulness with no help except from heaven and no friend except your knife. (Ward 1.14391444) The frontier literature of Argentina pits man against nature while the genre among authors in the United States seeks to place Mother Nature and mankind in a delicate balance and in an uneasy harmony. Donahue contrasts the differences between the


70 A rgentine and the United States view of nature by explaining that in Argentina nature rema ins primarily a pictorial element, as well as a necessary elem ent to explain human character: The gaucho would not exist if nature were not constantly at work shaping and molding him. Nature was not seen as a transcendental power, although moments of harm ony between man and nature, such as those in Guiraldes, are to be found. We do not find for nature the love and tender feelings of the Virginian. Guiraldes does not project onto nature a symbolic value but remains faithful to his realistic bias, never losi ng sight either of the hostile environment in which the gaucho lives or of the thin layer of varnish that separates the civilized man from the savage. Escaping organized society is not a rush into the warm embrace of a wise and protective mother but into a n environment that is ferocious, unforgiving, and impla cable Nature is not a generous mother who cares for man but rather a conjunction o f blind forces ( 174) With respect to Donahues assertion that Giraldes does not project onto nature a symbolic value I would have to disagree f or the the gaucho calls Raucho the protagonists young, cultured companion, una criatura libre de dolores, sin verdadero bautismo de vida (a child unbaptized by the waters of life and innocent suffering; 310; D e On s 209). What was the baptism that the gaucho had experienced that Raucho had not? That of his immersion into what Donahue cites as the blind forces of N ature which even the gaucho attributes to supernatural forces that are at play upon the house at t he edge of the crab filled bogs. In another place the gaucho calls himself un hijo natural


71 (a natural child) and un hijo de Dios, del campo y de uno mismo (a child of God, child of the pampas, child of oneself; 303; De Ons 203). T he nature descr ibed by Giraldes was not that of a generous mother but rather that of a vindictive and cruel mother. Be that as it may generous mothers as well as mothers who are domineering produce children who, sooner or later, will attempt to cut the p sycholog ical co rd that ties them to the mother. This form of natural progression that is a type of adolescent rebellion applies t o the mother/child relationship no matter what form the mother may take. It makes no difference whether the mother is flesh, a mother land, or the E arth Mother. Naturally, each of these strains in the mother/child relationship are discussed in the frontier literature of both Argentina and the United States and each serves to point out the matriarchal role of Nature as the child leaves th e mother of his youth; following the flight from the mo therland of his inheritance, the child/gaucho finally pits mind, muscle and spirit against the Great Mother herself. It is a cycle that repeats itself over and over again as the child searches for an e lusive true independence. Kay Seymour House suggested that Cooper used the name Chingachgook (Great Serpent) for his Indian mentor as an analogy for this process of seeking independence. Just as a snake sheds its skin and emerges into the world anew, so does the frontiersman slough off his old European consciousness t hat binds him to hearth (mother) and home (motherland) and after a painful struggle with Mother Nature emerges into a fresh, lithe, and unfettered freedom and mobility (x). I f the analo gy is continued, however, a snake s skin is shed several times in the course of its life which appears to indicate a never ending cycle of the search for the independence that is so desperately sought for Mother Nature does not give up her dominance over her children so easily. Albert Gelpi


72 reminds his readers that, The Great Mother, whose rhythm is the round of Nature and whose sovereignty is destructive to the independent individual because the continuity of the round requires that she devour her childr en and absorb their lives and consciousness back into her teeming womb, season after season, generation after generation (85) In this respect, Mark Twain tells us that he was often reminded that in Mother Natures domain we were emigrants, and consequen tly a low and inferior sort of creatures (119). T he pitting of oneself against Mother Nature appears to be a defining theme and a mark of true manhood in the frontier literatures of Argentina and the United States. Those who sought their refuge in the ci ties or in cultured civilization were looked upon as weak individuals who had no common sense. Nature had a way of honing the senses, sharpening animal instincts, and forcing man to face his own weaknesses head on. Wister makes this point when he describes one of the ranchs dogs : A much petted contact with our superior race had developed her dog intelligence above its natural level, and turned her into an unnatural, neglectful mother, who was constantly forgetting her nursery for worldly pleasures ( 57). The young gaucho in Don Segundo Sombra was more to the point as he began to feel the reality of what it meant to be a gaucho, to pit oneself against nature: Metido en el baile bailara, visto que no haba ms remedio, y si el cuerpo no me daba, mi volunta d le servera de impulso. No quera huir de la vid a mansa para hacerme ms capaz? (Forced into the dance, Id dance, since there was no way out. And if my body gave in, my will would go on. Id wanted to get away from the soft lif e, to become a man, had nt I?; G iraldes 109; D e Ons 39). Cooper was more critical of the soft life and, in the voice of Natty Bumppo, decries the waste and wickedness of the settlements and the village that are full of the danger of immoralities ( Prairie 370). In the sa me


73 vein the young gaucho of Giraldess novel agreed: Para m todos los pueblos eran iguales, toda la gente ms o menos de la misma laya, y los recuerdos que tena de aquellos ambientes, presurosos e intiles, me causaban antipata (All towns seem the s ame to me, and all people pretty much alike, and my memory of those stuffy useless places revolted me ; 172; D e Ons 92). Wisters narrator, who was from the city had a more subjective view of the frontiersman as contrasted to the city dweller and seemed to understand that nature dictated the terms of their uneasy alliance: More of death it undoubtedly saw, but less of vice, than did its New York equiv alents. And death is a thing muc h cleaner than vice. Moreover, it was by no means vice that was written u pon these wild and manly faces. Even where baseness was visible, baseness was not uppermost. Daring, laughter, endurance these were what I saw upon t he countenances of the cow boys. (Wister 24) The giving of life as well as the taking of life is the do main of Mother Nature. Vice is the domain of humankind. That is what led Wister to opine that, death is a thing much cleaner than vice. This being the case, t he influence of the mother, whether of flesh or nature, shapes the character and permeates the psyche of humans from cradle to grave. Mankind having once been connected physically to the mother, never quite loosens the cords that bind him to the psychological and emotional pillars to which he is bound even though he struggles mightily and repeatedl y to do so. Martin Sor bille suggested that the str uggle is precipitated by mans inability to interpret the feminine, which is nature, with exactness and this produces the anxiety of losing power over her, a power that is der ived from knowledge of her Th e good son wishes to please his mother


74 and in return wishes the mother to shower her ad oration back upon him. A ccording to Sorbille, however, sooner or later this wish becomes a futile quest as the son comes to the same conclusion as to which Sigmund Freud came: the feminine is impossible for a man to know (247). The Oedipus Complex of Me n Toward Mother Nature In a mans rocky relationship with nature he goes through the same steps he goes through with his biological mother as he begins the psychological separation (which he never quite achieves) from her First he looks at the mother as a sort of deity, like the virginal mother of Christ. The son, when he first learns of the initial act of procreation, cannot see his mother participating in such an act; however, he does not share the same sentiment as regarding his father. From his early life men are seen as the aggressors. But in the role of child, before he becomes aware of sexual desires, the mother offers a place of comfort, awe, protection, and virg i nal goodness. This view is what some call the North American pastoral dream (Sommer 56). It is this sentiment that led the narrator of The Virginian to make the declaration, about the Virginians private hideaway, in the wilderness: It belonged to no m an, for it was deep in the unsurveyed and virgin wilderness; neither had he ever made his camp here with any man, not shared with any the intimate delight which the place gave him (Wister 357). One would seldom speak of intimate delight in relation to t he mother. That designation is more apt to apply to a lover. Coopers Natty Bumppo who often referred to nature as both virgin and mother, was asked by Judith, in The Deerslayer And where is your sweetheart? To which he replied, Shes in the forest, J udith hanging from the boughs of the trees, in a soft rain in the dew on the open grass the cl o uds that float about in the blue heavens the birds


75 that sing in the woods the sweet springs where I slake my thirst and in all the other glorious gif ts that come from Gods Providence (104). The North American pastoral dream however, did not apply to Sarmientos vision for Argentina. Doris Sommer wrote: Unlike Coopers wilderness, Argentinas pampa is chaste only in the most technical sense. Deman ding to be admired wild and shapeless as she is, the land lies ready for the man who dare s to make her productive. She, flaunts her smooth, infinite, downy brow without frontiers, without any landmarks; its the very image of the sea on land, the land s till waiting for the command to bring forth every herbyielding seed after its ki nd (Mrs. Manns chaste translation gives downy as velvet like, while the Spanish word velludo is unmistakably associated with pubic hair). (61) Instead of the virginal mot her described by Wister and Cooper Sarmientos Mother Nature was a tease and acted the harlot by flaunting her private places and tempting man to come and take them. He did not have the reverence t oward Mother Earth that the Unites States authors appea red to have Sommer, in referring to Sarmientos vision for the pampa, conclude s that Sarmiento evidently reviles Argentinas excess as unproductive waste ( 63) setting up a dichotomy between the barren womb an d a fecund virginity. Mother Nature therefor e, once a virginal mother is now an object of desire, who tempts man to penetrate her private places. Cooper, in his novel The Pioneers laments this change in mans attitude toward nature in the United States He sees the waste and destruction of what nat ure has so benevolently bestowed upon the earth as a pretense to ruin and desolation causing Mother Nature to then withhold her blessings and


76 calming reassurance upon the soul of man as man replaces her bounty with concrete and plaster edifices, taking mor e than is expedient for their survival, and replacing her vestments of lush grass and forest undergrowth with the hideous scarring of the natural with ugly and barren dirt roads Thus, according to Sorbille, the mother no longer recognizes her child in the fact that the child cannot see himself reflected in the mother (247). Therefore, by transforming mother into lover man was then free to pursue her and love her in a different way. Sommer asks the rhetorical question, What could be more legitimate than courting and winning a virgin? If mans penetration threatened to destroy the wilderness, certainly this was not true conquest once conquest was figured as mutual love (56). After all, those who civilize the wilderness, marry virgins, and turn them int o mothers (81). Although, as Gelpi points out, love may have only been seen as mutual by the starry ey ed pioneer who first went to woo Mother Nature: The man who reaches out to Nature to engage his basic physical and spiritual needs finds himself reaching out with the hands of the predator to possess and subdue, to make Nature serve his own ends. Now it is not the complementarity of the powers of light and the powers of darkness, but a contest between them. From the perspective of Nature, then, or of woman or of the values of the feminine principle, the pioneer myth can take on a devastating and ominous significance. The woodsman goes out alone, or almost alone, to test whether his mind and will are capable of outwitting the lures and wiles of Nature. (84 )


77 If the man succeeds in taming Mother Nature and making her his own, much as he does in his courtship with any fair and desirable virgin, he can then assume or resume his place in society as boon (84). Sar miento, on the other hand, did not feel any l ove, mutual or otherwise, t oward Mother Nature who he felt had spurned the Argentine Republic. He detested the empty spaces that la rodea por todas partes y se le insina en las entraas ( surrounds it everywhere and threatens to invade her entrails ; 56 ; my translation), in the same way that a barren womb was looked upon with scorn in biblical days. If the mother could not be made to be productive she was useless. The empty landscape defeated reason and industriousness (Sommer 61). But, in order to mak e the pampa useful, bodies were required to penetrate into it and establish civiliz ed settlements (60). A ccording to Sorbille, however, there was a danger in facing Mother Nature head on. This danger came from an anxiety, which he defined as estar demas iado prximo al deseo incommensurable del Otro omnipotente ( to be too close to the incommensurate desire of the omnipotent Other ), of being absorbed by an all powerful mother, like a magnet that drags him toward an emptiness. The well intending mother then, reverts to her position in an opposite sense and comes to signify la madre siniestra ( the uncanny mother ) Sorbille continues on to say that a s the mother begins to appear somewhat sinister the individuals unconscious interprets the character ch ange as rejection and can no longer distinguish the familiar from the unfamiliar but rather substitutes the one for the other or, at best, merges them into one chaotic entity Freed from the distinction of the mother, the child then seeks retribution upo n that which has caused his suffering (248). In a similar vein, Gelpi explains that


78 The pioneer who may first have ventured into the woods [or onto the pampa] to discover the otherness which is the clue to identity may in the end find himself maneuvering against the feminine powers, weapon in hand, with mind and will as his ultimate weapons for self preservation. No longer seeker or lover, he advances as the aggressor, murderer, rapist. (85) While Sarmiento welcomed the confrontation with Mother Nature, often puffing up his chest with his rhetoric, according to Dorothy Sherman Vivian, Cooper felt obliged to warn the American public of an impending loss of morality and idealism which he felt would result from an excess of civilization. Sarmiento wished to make his readers aware of the amoral barbarism which was destroying the cities, the last outposts of civilization in Argentina (808). Sarmientos aim was to extend civilization at the expense of Mother Nature. Cooper and Wister also wished to extend civi lization but only in harmony with Mother Nature. In the frontier literature of both countries there appears to be a natural progression which mimics the male s relationship with his mother as it is related to his relationship with Mother Nature. First, there is deification of the mother. Later, as the boy grows toward puberty, an Oedipus complex may manifest itself. Then realizing the impropriety of turning his mother into an object of desire and wishing to become free of her influence a period of rebelli on ensues. As the man matures an uneasy alliance is formed with the mother. And finally, in the mans old age, he comes full circle; he remembers his mother as he k new her as an infant and places her again just a little lower than God, as an angel or at a minimum a saint. As for the relationship of the imagined communities of the United States and Argentina to nature and as is reflected in the literatures of today I


79 believe it is safe to say that both countries may have one foot on the step of rebellion and the other on the step of uneasy alliance. Future generations will have to determine the pace of their progress toward returning Nature to its proper place in the world order. Conclusion Frontier literature holds a place of honor in the foundational texts of both the United States a nd Argentina and one cannot read the frontier literatures of these countries without facing Mother Nature head on just as the authors of the literature did. Mans relationship with Nature, in part, drove the then future des tinies of the se two countries. The United States saw the barren lands and virgin wilderness as an opportunity for expansion and natural resources while the vast majority of nineteenth century Argentine authors took a more timid approach. The exception to this timidity was the vision of Domingo F. Sarmiento. He wanted to see Argentina rival the United States in its expansion and proposed ways in which it could accomplish that task. Unfortunately, his vision never caught on with the urban Argentine masses. These differing approaches to Nature were influenced by myths and preconceived notions that the settlers of these nations brought with them from the Old World. Spain, with its great old cities and educational heritage, was a largely urban and cultured cou ntry. They, as part of the Mediterranean cone, were steeped in the myths of The Iliad and The Odyssey, in which Nature played havoc with mere mortals. They took refuge in the cities where they felt that there was strength in numbers, where they could keep a distance from the larger effects of Mother Nature. When the settlers of Argentina arrived at the mouth of the Ro de la Plata, with its deep river ports, they set about building the great city that would become Buenos Aires. Communications from Mother Sp ain poured


80 into the ports so that they somewhat lessened the distance between themselves and Spain. Those that ventured into the interior and mixed with the native races were looked down upon and fell out of favor with the urbanites. These settlers became the gauchos of Argentine fame thanks to the writings of Jos Hernndez and Ricardo Giraldes though Sarmientos plan was to have them live in infamy. The gauchos proved their manhood by pitting themselves against Mother Nature yet they still carried with them some of the preconceptions about Nature as a violent and cruel mother. On the other hand the settlers that arrived in New England had an almost reverential respect for Mother Nature stemming from different myths and legends brought with them from the British Isles. These were the descendants of the ancient Earth worshipping druids. To them Mother Nature was a loving and kind mother who, nevertheless, at times saw fit to teach her children some hard lessons. The frontiersman and the cowboy generally tr eaded easy in Mother Natures terrain, learning her lessons, and learning to live in harmony with her. Rarely in the frontier literature of the United States do we read about hostile encounters with Nature. In the United States it was the cowboy, the fur t rapper, the r iver pilots, and the miners who paved the way for the nations expansion. These contrasts in mans relationship with Mother Nature can be defined by certain psychological archetypes and complexes that emerged from the relationships held with the Great Mother in each nations respective homeland. The United States projected a positive m other complex, as concerning their attitudes, upon their relationship with Mother Nature, whereas, Argentina projected a negative mother complex upon theirs. Bot h countries went through a period where an Oedipus complex, as it related to Mother


81 Nature, was dominant in their behavior toward her. Now, in the twenty first century, both nations find their footing with Nature on equal terms and both are inching their w ay toward returning Mother Nature to her proper role in the affairs of men.


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