The Sisters Brothers Analysis

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Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (2011): a satirical deviation from the cowboy western genre
“The Wild West has always enticed the readers’ imagination” (Vanja 128). This research paper explores the context of Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers (2011). DeWitt’s use of a “stylized abstraction of western speech” (Vernon 1) offers its readers a respite from everyday life. Although it follows the traditional scheme of a cowboy western genre, the novel has certain innovations of its own (Vanja 130). The novel is narrated in a gritty 19th Century western speech, which although is sharp and distinctive, allows the story to not always be serious yet not always be funny, making the novel entertaining. One innovation that Patrick deWitt brings
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In appearance Eli fits the description of a mean cowboy: bulky, tall and rough-looking. However, Eli’s thought processes strike the reader as dissonant with his profile (Vanja 138). Different from the typical western gunslinger, Eli is revealed as a man who empathizes with people and animals, this is displayed in the opening paragraph of the novel, setting the tone, Eli narrates: “My new horse was called Tub…Tub was healthy enough animal but would have been better suited to some other, less ambitious owner… I was often forced to whip him, which some men do not mind doing and which in fact some enjoy doing, but which I did not like to do” (deWitt 5-6). Eli’s struggling to make sense of his life and his role as a killer is evident through the novel, and displayed as an internal struggle of morals. Despite possessing a short temper and a methodical nature (Vanja 137), Eli is a likeable character even though he is presented as “dangerous”. It is evident through the text that the author can relate more to Eli than Charlie. Eli’s sensitivity is first displayed at the dentist’s: “a dainty, wooden-handled brush with a rectangular head of gray-white bristles”, demonstrating “the proper use of the tool, then blew mint-smelling air on my face” (deWitt 26). Eli is portrayed as a character who is not very closed off, and one that expresses emotions: “When will that man there find himself to be loved?” (deWitt …show more content…
The genre of the Western is often classified as escapist, and in keeping with the generic expectations: deWitt’s novel is situated in the mythical West, with the action taking place in California and Oregon during the gold rush, thus following the schematics of a mid-nineteenth century Western frontier. Not only does the storyline follow that of a classic western, but the novel also boasts hired gunmen, head bosses, gold crazed prospectors, big cowboy hats, and an ending where both the protagonists ride off into the sunset (Vanja 134) –arguably a metaphor for their return to their mother. There is no doubt that Patrick deWitt’s novel The Sisters Brothers (2011) is a combination of a traditional western with a twist (Vanja 139). Although the narrative voice could be considered limited in range (Vernon 1), it carries the capability of being deadpan and often comic. The dialogue suffers from some slippage (Vernon 1), and the portentous declarations –such as “Death stalks all of us upon the earth!” – can sometimes deduct the charm of the characters. However, having a strong narrative voice aids in the dialogue remaining effective. As an example, here is

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