Study Guide

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge Strength and Skill

By Michael Punke

Strength and Skill

Chapter 2: August 23, 1823

His experiences on the western plain had taught Glass that the performance of his rifle could mean the difference between life and death. (1.2.46)

In many ways, Glass's rifle, the Anstadt, is a symbolic representation of his skill and prowess. While many of the men employed by the Rocky Mountain Fur Company are inexperienced and unprepared, Glass has been developing the skills he'll need on the frontier his entire life.

Chapter 8: September 2, 1823

From his time with the Pawnee, Glass possessed a broad familiarity with the plants of the plains. (1.8.24)

It helps that Glass spent a year or so with the Pawnee Tribe. This experience not only allows him to better relate with his American Indian peers, but also to utilize a skillset most trappers don't have access to.

Chapter 9: September 8, 1823

He remembered a trap he had once seen set by Pawnee children. [...] For Glass, the exercise was now deadly serious. (1.9.42)

Once again, we see Glass utilize skills gleaned from the Pawnee to huge effect. What was once a time-waster for kids is now a lifesaver for a desperate man—funny how things work out, huh? This also shows Glass's strong capacity for improvisational thinking.

Chapter 10: September 15, 1823

But he had never done anything like what he was prepared to do at that moment: crawl into a pack of wolves and challenge them for food, armed only with a torch of sage. (1.10.23)

Glass's rumble with the wolves displays both his strength and ingenuity. First, it shows his ingenuity because he's able to craft a weapon using only gunpowder and sage, showing his skills as a proto-MacGyver. But it also shows his strength because, well, it takes some serious chutzpah to go face-to-face with one of nature's most feared predators.

He liked the idea that the claw that inflicted his wounds now hung, inanimate, around his neck. Lucky charm, he thought, then fell asleep. (1.10.53)

Like his rifle, Glass's bear-claw necklace becomes another testament to his strength and tenacity. It's also worth noting that it was Jim Bridger—one of the men Glass is hunting down—who slipped the claw into Glass's bag in the first place.

Chapter 11: September 16, 1823

Unlike Fitzgerald, he did have an instinct across open country. He always had, an internal compass that seemed to shepherd him in unmarked terrain. (1.11.10)

Speaking of Bridger, that kid has some serious skills himself. Although Fitzgerald constantly talks trash, Bridger's navigational ability is the only thing keeping him and Fitzy from an arrow-tipped death—and that's no small feat, if you ask us. Man—in another life, Bridger and Glass might have been best friends.

Chapter 15: October 9, 1823

Such trifles seemed inadequate expressions of his gratitude. Instead he walked up to Yellow Horse, removed his bear-claw necklace, and paced it around the Indian's neck. (1.15.29)

It's only fitting that Glass gives his bear-claw necklace—a symbol of his strength and oneness with nature—to Yellow Horse, who saved his life. That's a massive sign of respect in our book. What's more, the fact that Glass had this bear claw in the first place might be what led Yellow Horse to treat him so well. What do you think?

Chapter 18: December 6, 1823

His satchel was gone, with his spare, shirt, blanket and mittens. The satchel also contained his hand-sketched map [...] Relatively speaking, he felt well equipped. (2.18.6)

And here we are having a panic attack whenever Google Maps freezes on us. Yeesh—you're making us look bad, Glass. Ego bruises aside, we can see here that our man has grown a great deal since the beginning of the novel and is now confident that his skills can carry him to victory, no matter the situation.

Chapter 24: March 7, 1824

"It's the hides I'm after," said Glass. "We're making a bullboat." (2.24.44)

A what? As it turns out, a bullboat is a type of craft traditionally made by the Pawnee that's made out of processed buffalo hides. You learn something new every day. Good thing Glass had a positive enough relationship with the Pawnee to learn things like this from them.

Chapter 25: March 28, 1824

He waded into the water, careful to leave a few telltale tracks pointing up the stream—away from the Platte. (2.25.54)

Always the schemer, Glass uses every trick in the book to evade the fearsome Arikara warriors. This is a small moment compared to some of the others that we've discussed, but we think that it's a perfect illustration of Glass's style.