"Ill give you until sundown to leave town"
Still from the Great Train Robbery, a landmark Western film made in 1903
Public DomainStill from the Great Train Robbery, a landmark Western film made in 1903 - Credit: Edwin S. Porter

Quentin’s pitiful attempts to act out the role of hero draw on the fictional treatments of cowboys and the ‘Wild West’ that were popular in Faulkner’s time. With colonization spreading inland from the East coast, the West was always the area beyond the advancing frontier. The romanticization of this region and its settlers can be traced back to the minstrel shows and dime novels of the mid-1800s; films produced from the 1890s onwards further crystallized the image of the Old West in the popular imagination. Storylines typically involved cowboys and gunfighters battling it out against the harsh landscape and the onslaughts of savage natives. The threat Quentin delivers to Dalton Ames is quintessential of the genre.

Western pulp fiction from 1919
Public DomainWestern pulp fiction from 1919 - Credit: Robert Stanley

 

In Riders of Destiny (1933), when Slip Morgan's fearsome gunslinger orders Sandy Saunders (John Wayne) out of town, it triggers off the final shootout.