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The Ox-Bow Incident

Walter Van Tilburg Clark

Character Analysis Monte Smith

Monte is the embodiment of bad taste and bestiality He makes bad jokes about hanging to an incipient mob. He rags Sparks about his blackness and his deep sense of virtue. He tries to seduce Ma Grier, while three doomed men watch him and wait for sunrise. And he becomes the spokesman when the men return to town, telling the story of the lynching to anyone who will listen. He ought to be shot, we might think, or maybe driven out of town. But, like Kinkaid, he cannot be shot, nor driven away. We recognize his performance as a symbol of the perverse, and savage, and sadistic impulses of men, and we tolerate him always regretting his brief periods of dominance over us, as in the Ox-Bow valley.