The humorous tale of the cattle drive of four men is presented by the author in a manner which brings forth the contrast in the lives of people living in a city and a country. The Book The book presents a true picture of a country life through its characters and setting. The characters in the novel resemble real country people in their behavior, thinking and attitude. The central character in the novel is Spangler Tukle, a rancher. He wanted his cattle to be send to the stockyards in Kansas City but he is not ready to pay for the shipping costs.
He finds a solution to his problem by deciding to drive his cattle to the Kansas City. He travels from Hays to Kansas city with his cattle which were 250 in number. The story is narrated by a KU graduate who arrives in a small town situated in Western Kansas. He has secured a job as a teacher in the town. Along with his teaching job, he works as a rancher in an effort to receive some extra money. He is one of the four men who drive cattle to the Kansas City. The opening lines of the novel itself point towards the event on which the plot of the story is going to focus.
Day (1987) states that The papers have it all wrong. The lawyers never did get the story straight. And every once in a while I hear a botched version at a bar and Im tempted to break in and set things right. (p. 3). The narrator wants to tell the true story regarding Spangler and his cattle drive. But he stops himself from doing so because he knew people will not know the true story unless they understand the characteristics of Spangler. Through his narration he attempts to tell about Spangler and the reason which induced him to drive his cattle to Kansas City.
He describes his first meeting with Spangler. Day (1987) mentions that I first met him when he picked me up between Russell and Hays on a scorching day in August. I was on my way to Gorham, where I had a job teaching at the elementary school, when my yellow MGTC stopped. (p. 3). The narrator is helped by Spangler, when his car had broken down. But the narrator is not able to know more about Spangler, for he did not met him for a year after that incident. It is only after the narrator starts working for Spangler that he comes to know about his traits.
The other thing that is perceptible in the narration of the book is the contrast between the lives of people in a city and a country. Being a man who has been raised up in a city, the narrator notices vast differences between the life that is led in a city and life of the people in Hays. The most prominent difference perceived by him is the significance of weather in the lives of country people. Day (1987) writes that I have never been in a place where the weather had so much to do with lives of the people who worked.
If it was a cool autumn day in October and the sky was a deep blue and there was no wind, they could think that whatever they did would go well. (p. 8). The work of the country people is dependent on the weather. Their lives changed with the changes in the weather. If weather permitted, these people worked hard but when the conditions turned harsh in winter they stopped working completely. Day (1987) writes that In the winter Id stop by the Co-Op after school and stand around and listen to the farmers and ranchers and oilmen talk.
There was nothing else to do but talk, or drink. (p. 8). Weather had no such influence on the lives of the people in a city. The setting of the novel brings forth a beautiful picture of a country landscape. The author presents the scenic beauty of a country landscape which is mainly overlooked by people living in cities. Being a part of the humorous event, the narrator provides the details of the cattle drive and also sheds light on the thinking of the man whose idea has resulted in the cattle drive. The city people are amused at the sight of cattle on their roads.
But instead of disapproving, they cheer the cowboys who have entered their city with their cattle. Conclusion The book The Last Cattle Drive by Robert Day presents the country life through a humorous event of a cattle drive. The unusual idea of a cattle drive turns into a reality owing to the cost saving effort of Spangler. Instead of spending money on the shipping, he drives his cattle to the Kansas City. The book also points out the differences between the lives of the people in a city and a country.
The real nature of life in a country is portrayed in the book through the thinking, outlook and behavior of its characters. The contrasting lives of people in different parts of Kansas are depicted in the novel through the event of cattle drive. The reaction of the people in Kansas city upon seeing a cattle drive also drives home the point that considerable changes have taken place in the lives of people in cities. But the people in a country still lead a simple life which is dependent on the weather conditions.
Day, R. (1987). The Last Cattle Drive. University Press of Kansas.