Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 127

Who is the Man With No Name? 123 non-westemers. He is clever enough to battle with wits, master o f the tall tale, and the reader suspects that he can use a gun as well, but that is not immediately confirmed. He is an honest, humble, loner with a mean mischievous streak who can nonetheless calm a crying baby and is inclined to wax philosophical. He loves animals and hates those who mistreat them. He is thoughtful, generous— even to an enemy in victory, sentimental, and handy with the ladies but faithful in love. Interested in self-improvement— literary, economic, and social— he knows that he can and should stand for something. Again, no name could teil us these things that actually matter, but the lack o f one can make us look at his qualities more objectively, and without the clutter and suppositions that a famous name or a title like “Judge” might bring. He isn’t only called “The Virginian,” however; W ister dubs him with a litany o f nicknames, all designed to guide us toward the point o f view that is important at that moment. He is called the Southemer, the Bengal Tiger, the trustworthy man, the Lover (with “her lord” on the same page), and the bridegroom, all to point us toward the qualities in action at that time. He is even called “Jeff,” yet this teils us nothing by itself, unlike the other nicknames. The fact that he allows Steve to call him Jeff when no one eise does, not only informs us that this is not his given name, but that the name itself is utterly imimportant; the friendship behind it is what matters. Rather than a man with no name, he is a man with many names, but only one identity. “The Man with the Harmonica,” certainly, has a name. If he chooses to be “Harmonica” to Cheyenne and “The Man Who Makes Appointments” to Frank, it is because for him, identity means more than being called something in particular one’s entire life. Indeed, it almost seems as if Leone and his anonymous protagonists regard having a name a s a weakness or at least as a distraction from true self-assertion” (Cumbow 70). An actual name would diminish the character, or at least lull the viewer away from finding his true identity in his actions. The nicknames, however, are based on those actions, and are perhaps more accurate than any other name could be, as are the Virginian’s. The latter is, in fact, quite clear about what is important— and it isn’t a m an’s name— when he berates his love interest with the words, “D on’t you think pretendin’ yu’ don’ know a man,— his nam e’s nothin’, but him . . . ” (85). Name is nothing, and what he means by “him” is explained much later, when the Virginian makes it clear that if his character is maligned, he owes it action: