October 14, 2010
June 3, 2008
Those readers who follow this blog know that from time to time I will ruminate upon the very central idea of the Durango Kid series, namely that Steve will disguise himself as the Durango Kid.
Often it appears that putting on the black mask does little to help Steve with his problems. In fact, sometimes it seems as if it does nothing at all, only wasting Steve’s time and energy as he runs off to change identities.
I have speculated that the need to become the Durango Kid is a complusion; I have speculated that in fact it is a curse.
“West of Sonora” presents a good example of how it might, in fact, be a form of mental illness.
In this case, Steve is caught in a feud between outlaw Black Murphy and Sheriff Jeff Clinton over custody of their 6-year-old granddaughter. Steve meets Black Murphy and is surprised by his kindness and good will, saving a poor miner’s life, and touched by his love for his granddaughter. He vows not to reveal the location of Murphy’s hide-out. Later, the Sheriff tricks him into giving up the location and immediately signals a posse to prepare to attack and kill Murphy. Helpless, Steve rides away and changes into his Durango identity. As Durango, he kidnaps the granddaughter from the kindly Murphy and delivers her to the Sheriff who has just betrayed him!
Of course not. There are more instances of abrupt shifts in loyalties, Steve failures, Durango “triumphs…”
In the end, Steve lets on that it was all part of his plan. What else can he do? His world is collapsing. He’s clutching at any pretense of control over his environment, even his own actions.
It’s just tragic.