Study Guide

True Grit Violence

By Charles Portis


Mattie Ross's arm, Rooster Cogburn's missing eye, Lucky Ned Pepper's lip (shot by Rooster), and LaBoeuf's busted skull—True Grit has more injuries than the trauma ward at your local hospital. Add to that the novel's shoot-outs, pistol whippings, thrashings, finger-choppings and snake bites, and it adds up to one big mess of violence. But we get the sense that violence is the price of doing business—and it can even be funny. If it takes violence to track down Frank Ross's killer—well, then, it takes violence. After all, this is the Wild West. You don't walk into the Territory expecting Band-Aids and Neosporin, do you?

Questions About Violence

  1. Does True Grit glamorize violence? Is there a point to the violence in the story, or is it gratuitous?
  2. Why is violence so popular in popular culture? Do you think we live in violent times? Does Mattie? Which is more violent, and why?
  3. How did you feel about it when LaBoeuf whips Mattie, or when Rooster comes after her like he wants to attack her?