The Virginian by Owen Wister
When I picked up our family’s paperback copy of Owen Wister’s “The Virginian,” I did it with no idea of what I would be reading. I have enjoyed watching the classic TV series of the same name and had been told that it was nothing like the book. It wasn’t. It couldn’t even be compared with the book simply because the two are so different. Sure, they used the same names basically, but they changed the personalities and the setting.
First off, the book in itself was an ‘okay’ read. I didn’t understand some of the more wordy passages and skipped two chapters in which a horse was being beaten...I got the idea of what happened and really didn’t need to read them because the chapters are almost like short stories. There was an idea threaded throughout the entire book with the Virginian and his lady friend, Molly, but the chapters seemed to be able to stand on their own, almost as if Wister had originally written it for a newspaper serial.
Another thing about the book which confused me was the Virginian hate for Trampas. If you have ever seen the TV show, then you know that Trampas is the Virginian’s sidekick, the other hero of the show. But in the book he is the villain. Actually I couldn’t understand why there was so much animosity between the two! Sure, Trampas insults the Virginian (“Smile when you call me that”), but is that really enough to make someone mad enough to want to shoot him? I guess on the train trip Mr. V kind of shows Trampas up...but again, it’s not enough to make him want to kill him. Or at least it didn’t seem so to me.
Miss Mary Stark Wood (Molly), is the girl from the East who comes to become the teacher of the local school. She’s really running away from somebody who wanted to marry her back there, and was considered somewhat of a modern girl because of the fact that she sold her embroidery and taught piano lessons in the evening. She has quite an adventure going west, and once she gets there, has a handful of suitors. Her rejection of both Lin McLean and the Virginian leads to a very funny scene in the book.
And then there is the narrator. Who is he? Is he Mr. Wister himself? Is the book supposed to be recounting his adventures when he travelled west? I don’t know. But you can ask yourself those questions when you read “The Virginian,” for yourself.
A review by Miss Moffett