Study Guide

LaBoeuf in True Grit

By Charles Portis


LaBoeuf (pronounced "LaBeef) is a Texas Ranger and the third member of the trio hunting Tom Chaney. LaBoeuf is what ZZ Top would call a sharp dressed man, and even Mattie admits that he's good-looking. He's about thirty-years old when he meets Mattie, ten years younger than Rooster, and he's—well, he's kind of a ladies' man. When he first confronts Mattie, he says, "Earlier tonight I gave some thought to stealing a kiss from you, though you are very young, and sick and unattractive to boot, but now I am of mind to give you five or six good licks with my belt" (4.70).

Gee, way to win 'em over, LaBoeuf.

We know LaBoeuf is a bachelor and that he fought in the U.S. Civil War, but beyond that we don't get his history or his back story. Mostly, LaBoeuf is important to the story as a foil for Rooster. While Rooster is always walking a fine line between cop and criminal, LaBoeuf seems like a dedicated lawman—if an immature one. Remember that time he whistled for hours just to annoy Rooster? Yeah, us too.

But even LaBoeuf has something of a soft candy center for Mattie, eventually conceding to Rooster that he thinks Mattis has "done fine … she has won her spurs, so to speak. That is just my personal opinion" (6.500).


Love Interest

Since Mattie is 100% focused on avenging her father, she doesn't spend much time doodling LaBoeuf's initials in her Lisa Frank notebook. (To be honest, we can't imagine Mattie doodling anyone's initials in her notebook.) She makes LaBoeuf the butt of her jokes, and loses touch with him after he takes Tom Chaney's body back to Texas. In fact, we learn that she's never seen him again. But she'd like to.

Do you think LaBoeuf might read Mattie's story (as she hopes) and come visit her? Is there some AARP romance in their future? We kind of hope so.