Study Guide

True Grit Visions of America

By Charles Portis

Visions of America

You can't get much more American than the Wild West. For generations of people, the west has symbolized America: the frontier, the wide open prairie, the lack of government oversight or rule of law, the senseless genocide of Native Americans …okay, we'll stop, but you get our point. True Grit associates the quality of its title—you know, grit—with the West. And that sense of individual responsibility, go-get-em stick-to-it-ive-ness, and good old fashioned ingenuity is as American as apple pie. Of course, Portis is a child of the Civil Rights Era, so he also gets in some exploration of America's treatment of minority cultures. In our view, that just makes the book all the more American.

Questions About Visions of America

  1. How does the America depicted in the novel compare and contrast with the America you experience?
  2. Do you think the novel presents a historically accurate vision of America? What views on race, politics, and religion might influence the way Mattie sees and describes America?
  3. Does this novel inspire you to explore American history, or are you more interested in the plot and action of the story?
  4. Is the setting of the novel necessary to its plot, or could the plot be picked up and transported to, say, 1960s Chile or 17th century France?