Anthropology of the Wild West

  About halfway through Silverado the Kevin Kline character, Paden, takes interest in Rosanna Arquette’s Hannah whose husband had just been killed:

He acted bravely out there, Hannah. 
Just bad luck his getting hit.  Could
have been any one of us.
I don’t believe in luck.  I know what
Conrad was like. Don’t tell me what you
think I want to hear.
Never will again.
We got married just before this trip,
so we could come out here and try
the land.  It’s hard to find a man
willing to take on a life like that.
Love isn’t the only important thing.

    The Kevin Costner character gives Paden a hard time: “Jeez, her old man ain’t even cold yet” as they ride off for action and adventure leaving Hannah and the other settlers to make their way.  After the passage of some time, their paths cross again.  Hannah asks Paden to admire her land:

…Mine starts right over there.  It’s all I’ve
ever wanted.  Pretty land isn’t it?
And a pretty lady.
A lot of men have told me that.  Maybe it’s true.
I guess some women are slow to believe it.
Believe it.
They’re drawn to me by that.  But it never lasts.
Because they don’t like what I want.
What’s that?
I want to build something, make things grow.
That takes hard work – a lifetime of it.
That’s not why men come to a pretty woman.

  Well, maybe not right off.  Both parties would agree, however reluctantly on the part of the men, that it is good for the woman to be wary.  Which makes the above exchange an interesting study in anthropology.

  Recent research shows that the nature of the environment bifurcates the decision path of a woman’s choice in mates.  “Whenever a woman has to choose a mate, she must decide whether to place a premium on the hunk’s choicer genes or the wimp’s love and care.”* 

  In other words: “It’d be great if Dad would stick around (and not beat me), but if he doesn’t, how likely is his/our baby to survive?”

  Turns out that the more disgusting, depraved, and/or difficult the environment the higher up the hunk scale woman are likely to chose.  Hmm. Guess I’m gonna tell myself that it was lucky that I did the last part of my courtin’ in a relatively rugged neck of the woods…

  Just like Hannah and Paden.  At the end of the movie as they stand side by side friend Emmett says:

You might make a farmer yet.
I’ve got a job.

  As he puts his arm against the post, and his coat is drawn back to reveal the shiny sheriff’s badge on his vest.  Thus, not likely to ever be the “yes honey” type or care much for yard work Paden seems about to be invited into the gene pool. After evaluating her experience and circumstance Hannah chose not to make the same mistake twice.

*Economist: 12/11/10   


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