The Character of Augustus McCrae in Dead Man's Walk by Larry McMurtry

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Character and characterization

Character and characterization are one of the aspects of creative writing that artists employ in their works for effectiveness in the presentation of their message. Characters usually act to symbolize definite qualities such as malice, love, courage, and justice. All these enable the reader to determine the text's message and how the characters contribute to the meaning. Writers usually use these fictitious characters for the choices of words, thoughts, consequences, and actions which all help to develop themes as well as the plot which give an overall message in the text. They select their imaginative characters and assign them roles through their designated traits. Therefore, this essay will focus on how Larry McMurtry in his book 'Dead Man's Walk' uses a character called Augustus McCraeto to play different roles in order to accomplish his mission in the story.

Highlighting issues of concern

To begin, the author draws on Augustus McCraeto to highlight some issues of concern in human societies. For instance, the theme of conflict is presented through this character. To elaborate, this is seen when the Indian soldiers kill many people who are with the character in his excursion in what can be treated as a clash between the two parties. Through this, the writer is able to indicate that conflict brings with it numerous problems that consist of deaths of human beings, among others. The books also show that there are other forms of sufferings such as starvation. This is illustrated when McCrae and other people who meet the fighting soldiers are famished due to war. Indeed, the writer shows that conflict is part of human life; thus, people need to find ways of adjusting to it.

Pain and suffering

The other thematic issue examined through the character is pain and suffering. Agony and misery are for example portrayed when both McCrae and Call have to learn survival tactics in a land riddled with dangers. Some of these in are excess heat and raging windstorms. As well, they have to deal with the dangerous threats from heartless and deadly soldiers who they meet on the way to their destination. Furthermore, McCrae and his companions have to endure the austere elements that include Buffalo Hump's mistreatment, the harshness of the Apaches as well as the mighty and brutality of the Mexican army (McMurtry 154). For this context, the writer is able to pass the message that suffering is part of human life through this character.

Illustrating personalities

In addition, the character helps in the identification and illustration of personalities of various characters in this story. For instance, through McCrae, Woodrow Call is painted as a kind character that is full of humanity. This is seen when both of them help escort a woman and her son back to Texas after being freed by some Mexicans. Similarly, McMurtry employs him to show cruelty as a human nature. During their expedition, McCrae and other people in his contingent face the ruthless Indian soldiers who kill some of them (McMurtry 114). The Mexican abductors also show the personality of cruelty when they hold some people as hostages. Therefore, the author uses this character to depict human beings as capable of being both kind and cruel.

Literary techniques and effectiveness

Within the same context, it can also be argued that Augustus McCrae helps show the literary techniques used in the text; thus, making the story more effective and interesting. For example, there is the use of satire in the novel. Arguably, the acts of both the Indian soldiers and the Mexican kidnappers are satirized. The author seems to laugh at their inhumanity as they subject fellow human beings to untold torture that entails the loss of many lives in McCrae's cavalcade. Tellingly, the satire used here implies that the author calls for human beings to embrace humanity to prevent the kind of sufferings that the cruel Indians and Mexicans put people through. In sum, the satire that relates to the experiences of the character helps reiterate the message that humanity should be embraced in addition to making the story more captivating.

Symbolism and effective storytelling

The other use of language relates to symbolism. First, the acts adventurous natures of McCrae and Call in the face of the harshness of their journey is a symbolic deed that the author wants to communicate through the use of the former. Essentially, the allegory in the two help represents the act of determination human beings despite numerous challenges in life. Subjected to politics of interpretation, the writer wants to show the readers that there is the need for people to be determined and persevering as they seek to realize their goals in the course of life as in the case of McCrae and Call in the novel. Also, the usage of symbolism as a writing skill enhances the readers' interest in this artistic work; thus, ensuring that the messages in the test reach many people.


To conclude, the author of 'Dead Man's Walk' has used Augustus McCrae to accomplish various goals in the text. For example, he has used him to highlight some issues affecting human societies in the forms of themes. These matters include conflict in addition to pain and suffering. Additionally, he helps in the depiction and illustration of various traits of some characters. Some of them include Woodrow Call, the Indian soldiers, and the Mexican captors. Lastly, the author achieves the purpose of making the story more interesting the story various literary techniques depicted in matters related to him. The devices used in this context include satire and symbolism. In sum, McMurtry has utilized McCrae as an important tool to achieve his purpose in 'Dead Man's Walk' in different ways as discussed in the essay.

Work Cited

McMurtry, Larry. Dead Man's Walk. London: Picador, 2015.

August 21, 2023



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