Anton and I had never read Zane Grey before reviewing the library of Edgar
Rice Burroughs as published on the ERBzine. Nor probably would we
have but for the Bill Hillman series of articles comparing Zane
Grey and Edgar Rice Burroughs. Anton and I dismissed any such
connection as being relevant but then Prindle read The Rainbow Trail
and said we should check it out. Prindle is a close friend of ours;
a little on the independent side but alright.
Grey refers to The Rainbow Trail as a continuation of The Riders
Of The Purple Sage so Anton, he's a psychologist, became intrigued
by the manner in which Grey treated aspects of the Anima and Animus.
We both then read Riders in which we discovered a full blown theory of
the Anima and Animus.
Grey's ideas were presented in a very pure manner with complete and intact
symbolism so there could be no mistaking that Grey was presenting a well
thought out theory. Anton became very excited as he said Grey's theory
certainly rivaled the ideas of Freud and Jung and must have been developed
independently of their thought much as Burroughs ideas of psychology were.
Although Riders Of The Purple Sage wasn't among the books listed
by Hillman we have to assume that Burroughs read it along with a number
of other Grey titles although he must have found Rainbow Trail and
Mysterious Rider the tales of Grey he found most significant for his
needs. We will assume that this is so. To understand
Rainbow Trail, originally published as "The Desert Crucible," which
was in ERB's library it is necessary to also review Riders Of The Purple
Of The Purple Sage
Grey in this book examines the nature of the Animus and the Anima of the
male as well as the relationship between the living male and female.
The micro study of the Anima and Animus is placed in the macro study of
Mormon society and law of 1871 versus Gentile society and law. This
is also a study of the nature of religion.
The Gentiles - I follow Grey's thought here- Mormons refer to themselves
as the Chosen People and 'others' as Gentiles- are all of a stricken Anima
which paralyzes their Animus while the Mormons have a strong Animus but
disturbed by a stricken relation with the Anima which they completely repress.
In this they have an affinity with the Semitic religious systems from which
they derive their religion. Anton, the psychologist, avers that the
problem of the Animus and Anima has been known for at least five or six
thousand years. Anton is close to Prindle who is a historian, so
much of this historical part comes to Anton through him although Anton
is well versed in the history of human consciousness.
Historically the struggle of the male to come to terms with the X chromosome
and the y chromosome or Animus is central to history and psychology.
During the Matriarchal Age, which is to say a sub-or unconscious age the
X or Anima ruled the mind of man. As consciousness evolved and the
conscious mind emerged from the subconscious the nature of the y chromosome
or animus became apparent. The Patriarchal consciousness evolved.
To reconcile or not to reconcile?
The Egyptians developed their own theories but here we are concerned with
the HSs and the Semites. If one reads the story of Psyche and Eros
in Apuleius' The Golden Ass one will have a good general introduction to
the HS point of view as expressed in Grey's Gentile characters such as
Lassiter and Venters.
The Semites on the other hand, exaggerated the importance of the
Animus in favor of suppressing or subordinating the Anima which has been
passed on to the HS through the adoption of aspects of the Semitic religions.
In a Hungarian myth of the Christian Era the Anima is portrayed as being
entombed in the support of a bridge. Thus imprisoned on one side
of the river or brain it is denied its rightful function.
The Semitic attitude is reflected in the way the two peoples treat their
living females who stand as a symbol and only a symbol of the X chromosome
in the male. In both existing Semitic religions, the Judaic and the
Mohammedan, the females are treated as property no different than cattle.
Some of these attitudes have been temporarily weakened by contact with
The Semitic attitude infiltrated the Hs consciousness through their religion
which was amalgamated into an HS-Semitic hybrid called Christianity.
Then in 1830 in the United States a man named Joseph Smith created a religion
called Mormonism based on this extreme Patriarchal notion of the Semites.
As Grey puts it the religion was based on the notion of ruling women.
Smith devised rules by which women were completely subordinated to the
Animus much as in the Hungarian myth while the men were required to take
multiple wives. Smith himself racked up 30 plus.
According to Grey the women were not happy with the arrangement but in
the thrall of religious belief they thought it their god assigned role.
As polygamy is not part of HS culture Smith and the Mormons came into conflict
with constituted society in Smith's home base of Fayette, New York being
driven out. They encountered the same opposition in their new homes
which led finally to Nauvoo, Illinois. Smith, who apparently overplayed
his hand was killed in 1844. In 1847 Brigham Young led the new Chosen
People from Nauvoo to the Promised Land on the shores of the Great Salt
Lake. By 1871 when Riders takes place they must have multiplied exponentially
because they occupy all of Utah and parts of adjacent states. This
prologue of the diptych is placed before the passage of the 1882 law of
the United States outlawing polygamy. The denouement of the novel
will take place as the US attempts to stamp out the practice.
The action of the Riders-Trail takes place on the border of Utah
and Arizona and parts of adjacent states with the Grand Canyon of the Colorado
as a backdrop.
As with the other Semitic religions the Mormon Bishops and Elders with
untempered Animuses have made their will the law. Thus, according
to Grey, the Churchmen have become criminals willing to commit any crime
to achieve their personal desires which they equate with the will of God.
As Riders opens a Mormon woman, Jane Withersteen, against all the rules
of Mormon society is living as an independent woman in Cottonwoods on the
Utah-Arizona border, Gentile law on one side, Mormon on the other.
She does this in defiance of Bishop Dyer (die-er?) who has ordered her
to marry and end her independent status. She has her own duchy among
the Mormons owning her own town, the water, apparently several counties,
a magnificent bunch of horses (emblematic of the Anima) and six thousand
head of cattle divided into two herds, the red and the white. (Emblematic
of the male and female.)
Her independence is a standing affront to the Mormon Elders and Bishops.
Having been ordered to marry Elder Tull as one of his many wives she has
no wish to submit to the Bishop's will. Read, will of God.
These men will not be balked. The woman Withersteen has no actual
rights under Semitic law. As these men have crazed Animuses
untempered by the acknowledgment of their Animas they have lost all sense
of justice or rather, they equate justice with their desires which they
believe are supported by divine law. They are going to use every
concealed criminal means to break Jane Withersteen down. As their
will is the law they can't see the difference between subjective criminal
methods and objective legal ones.
Jane is already having trouble hiring Mormon riders, riders are the same
as cowboys in Grey's lexicon, to manage her herds so she has resorted to
The Mormons must be seen as a species of Semite and in the Semitic manner
they punish Gentiles, or unbelievers as the Moslems would put it, destroying
any attempts at their prosperity. If you read the first few lines
of the Koran you will find it plainly stated that unbelievers must be punished.
Hence all the Gentiles are kept uneducated and impoverished. Jane's
ramrod is a young Gentile named Bern Venters. Venters at one time
had been a prosperous cattle rancher but the Mormons had emasculated him
by lifting his cows. Venters was rescued by Jane from complete impoverishment
by offering him a job.
The Elders and Bishops hate her for this. They have warned Jane to
get rid of him and her other Gentile employees but as a sort of Great Mother
figure she has refused. She is sort of a Matriarchal throwback among
these Patriarchs. As the story opens Elder Tull has dragged Venters
out of Jane's house where Tull gives Venters the choice of hightailing
it out of the Territory, Utah being a territory from 1850 to 1895 when
it became a State, or being whipped to within an inch of his life.
Now, Tull means this, they are going to whip Venters nearly to death for
being a Gentile in Mormonland.
Having already been emasculated by the lifting of his cattle which, in
reality, he couldn't prevent, Venters now chooses to take the whipping
rather than emasculate himself further by hightailing it. Difficult
Tull is about to have him stripped when the Hammer Of The Mormons, Lassiter,
appears out of the purple sage riding a blind horse - you heard right -
a blind horse.
This guy is Bad Blood in person. He's been on a Mormon killing tear
for what, sixteen years? Boy, they've heard of him by now.
Black hat, black leather chaps, two massive black handled pistols worn
very low, apparently at his ankles, his reputation as a Mormon Killer is
well established. Tull gets the cold shivers just looking at him.
Lassiter makes a few mild mannered inquiries then orders the Mormons to
let Venters go. We're talking Animus to Animus here and Lassiter's
twin pistols make him the master Animus. The Mormons have to eat
dirt or die. The Mormons powerful as a collective cannot be so man
to man. Tull gives a hint of throwing an iron on Lassiter but the
latter goes into his famous gunslinger's crouch intimidating the dickens
out of the Mormons who retire leaving this field to him while muttering
threats that he'd better watch his back.
As we said, all the Gentiles are stricken in their relationship between
their Animas and Animuses. Between Riders and Rainbow they will be
Grey handles the symbolism starkly and masterfully. Jane Withersteen
is a masterful Mormon woman. Her independence and relationship to
the Gentile men has left the impression that she is sexually loose.
It isn't clear to the reader whether she was or not. She is more
of the Great Mother than the Siren.
Her role seems to be the womanly one of tempering the raging Animus of
the male. While she has no effect whatsoever on the Mormon men she
is successful in emasculating the stricken Gentiles. She had persuaded
Venters to abandon his six gun which made it possible for Elder Tull to
seize him while it was only Lassiter's two black handled six pistols that
In a rather sexually explicit scene Jane would stand in front of Lassiter
to seize a gun in each hand in an attempt to dissuade him from carrying
them. This at a time when Mormons were trying to gun him down.
Her role seems to be one of civilizing society although her method seems
Lassiter is a wronged individual seeking his personal justice in a vengeful
way. He has shot up several Mormon towns being now known as a Mormon
slayer or, in other words, the equivalent of an anti-Semite.
The reason for his anti-Semitism is that a Mormon kidnapped his sister,
Millie Erne, holding her captive until she consented to become one of his
wives. Hint, hint. Her remains are buried on Jane Withersteen's
Lassiter's horse was blinded when men held it down then placed a white
hot iron alongside the eyes searing them. The horse as a female mother
symbol represents Lassiter's stricken relationship with his Anima.
If one reads this novel in a literal sense then many of its incidents are
improbable if not ridiculous. What notorious gunslinger would ride
a blind horse? Grey has been criticized for wooden characters which
is somewhat unjust. These are archetypal characters who are fully
developed and can't change. As allegories there is no need for change.
This is mythology.
The Mormons steal Jane's red herd. This may represent her female
Animus as in iconography the male is usually represented as red while the
female is white. They next try to stampede her white herd by devious
means which they believe are undetectable such as flashing a white sheet
from a distance. As a Chosen People they even have to convince themselves
that what happens was not caused by them but is the will of God.
Lassiter notes this taking Jane with him to show her. As they watch
the cattle begin to stampede. Three thousand on the hoof they stream
down the valley. Lassiter on his blind horse races full speed down
the slope, obviously no blind horse could do this, out on the flat to single
handedly mill the cows. As the lead cows enter the center of the
spiral Lassiter disappears in the dust. He emerges sans horse to
appear before Jane. 'My horse got killed.' He announces.
Jane's response is 'Lassiter, will you be my rider?' Pretty clear.
Not exactly changing horses in midstream but obviously the transition from
a blind horse to a sighted Jane is an improvement in Lassiter's relationship
with his Anima. 'You bet I will, Jane.' Lassiter promptly and
Whether you want to consider this stuff 'high literature' or not read properly
it is not much different from the Iliad or the Odyssey.
As a mother figure Jane is a keeper of horses, a symbol of the mother and
female. The blinding of Lassiter's horse was the equivalent of separating
him from the mother figure. Jane not only has a full stable of them
but she has the prized horses Night, Black Star and Wrangler. As
Grey makes clear these are the devil's own mounts. In the big chase
scene Grey has Wrangler close to breathing flames as he compares the horse
to the devil.
The Mormons steal Jane blind while she refuses to allow Lassiter to defend
either himself or her.
Remember this is a war between Gentiles and Semites qua Mormons.
The Gentile's hands are stayed while the Semites are allowed to run wild.
Also remember that Jane is a Mormon so that while she is powerless to control
her own aging maniac men the only men she can influence are the Gentiles
whom she emasculates. As soon as the emasculated Venters gets away
from her while pursuing the rustlers he immediately begins to revert to
The Mormons set both Mormon men and women to steal from her. They
take her bags of gold, this woman is prodigal, rich, her deeds and anything
of value. They steal her six thousand cows. They want to kill
Lassiter; dozens of Mormons lurk in the cottonwood groves (female places)
but something stays their hands; they can't shoot him either from in front
The only thing Jane worries about is her horses, Black Star and Night.
It is possible that in this instance Jane represents the moon goddess.
Finally the Mormons steal these symbols of her power. The independent
woman is now completely violated. She has a man who could shoot down
all the Mormons in Utah but she won't let him use his guns.
So why should we care?
The myth switches to an alternate plot. Young Bern Venters goes in
search of the rustler gang. Once again Jane attempts to emasculate
her men by pleading with Venters not to go; to stay beside her. Why
anyone would want to hang around such a loser woman isn't clear.
Venters goes in search of the rustler gang which is led by a man named
Oldring. Old-ring. I'm sure the name has significant meaning
but I can't place it. The wind soughing through the caves is known
as Old-ring's knell. Even though Oldring's gang consists of a couple
dozen men who have punched a herd of three thousand red cows they have
somehow left no trail. Over the years they have been rustling and pillaging
there is no one who has been able to find this robber's roost.
Venters has traced them to the foot of a waterfall where he loses track.
While he is mulling this over a group of desperadoes return from pillaging,
plodding up the stream. Lo and behold they ride right through the
water fall into yet another hidden valley. Big enough to hold three
thousand head of cattle. The West is a big country.
Venters rides off to relate this discovery to Jane and Lassiter when he
encounters a desperado and the famous Masked Rider reputed to have
shot down dozens of men; he is dressed from head to toe in black
wearing a black mask. This Rider is credited with shooting down any
Mormons Lassiter overlooked.
Venters takes out his 'long gun'. You know how riders despise the
long gun or rifle preferring six shooters, and by dint of his long practice
he shoots the lead rustler dead and wounds the Masked Rider. While
examining the Masked One's wound he unbuttons the shirt to discover the
'beautiful swell of a female breast.' You bet. You got it,
the Masked Rider is a woman, a mannish girl. The image of Venters
Stranded in the desert while trying to nurse this girl back to health Venters
chases a rabbit up a slope where he notices ancient steps cut in the rock.
Following these he comes into 'Surprise Valley.' Formerly the home
of cliff dwellers the place is a virtual paradise, green and verdant.
No one would ever discover him and the Rider there. Carrying the
slight figure of the Rider up hill and down for maybe ten miles or so Venters
secretes themselves in Surprise Valley which abounds in game and delightsome
About this time I recognized some teen fantasies of my own. Shooting
and wounding a woman while having to tend her wounds in a secluded place
where she has to be eternally grateful when healed was just too obvious.
In my case, just after the onset of puberty, I think, when the anima would
be making itself known, I came up with the daydream of having this
woman I could keep in a bottle until I wanted her. When I let her
out of the bottle she became full sized and did whatever I wanted then
she willingly went back into the bottle until the next time I wanted her.
As a thirteen year old before the advent of universal pornography I didn't
know what I wanted the woman for but I knew it was fun. Grey here
creates his version of the same fantasy. The Rider, who turns out
to be Bess, apparently has a past. I say apparently because nearly
everyone in this story has an apparent history which turns out to be false.
As a member of the gang she was thought to have been um, the piece . .
. of Oldring. He kept her in a cabin up on a ledge in his valley
behind the waterfall. He was gone a lot so we're not clear that he
laid a hand on her but Venters believes she is not 'pure' which in his
great love for her he is willing to overlook but it rankles him.
If you want to know the wonders of Surprise Valley read the book yourself.
Comes a time when Venters has to go into Cottonwoods for supplies.
There he realizes that he and Bess can't stay hidden away forever.
He has enough money for supplies obviously but not enough to flee from
They don't call it Surprise Valley for nothing. When he returns Bess
hauls out a big bag of gold to give to him. This must be the
treasure that the female brings the male. The whole several mile
length of the river which runs through this valley is lined with pebbles
of gold which Bess has collected. Shades of Opar, huh? In her
girlish gratitude she wants Bern to have the lot.
'Gosh.' Says Bern. 'Now I don't have to get a job.' (He didn't quite
put it that way.) 'We can leave this valley and go far away from Mormonland.'
from Mormonland, by the way, is either Quincy or Beaumont, (beautiful mountain)
Illinois. Not too far from Nauvoo which was the Mormon stronghold
jumping off place for the long march to the Great Salt Lake into the fantastic
scenery Grey either describes or imagines. Certainly the West of
Grey's imagination is as fantastic as anything Burroughs created on Barsoom.
Even though Grey refers to the desert this is certainly the lushest desert
anyone has ever seen. The purple sage is the equal to Burroughs red
moss of Mars.
Grey wrote an essay about what the desert meant to him. His desert
with its plentiful water complements his vision of the Anima and Animus.
The desert may answer to Grey's subconscious which appears to be missing
in his analysis of Anima and Animus, so that perhaps the desert stands
for the subconscious.
His desert reminds me of a dream I used to have with some frequency.
In my dream I was walking across the immense barren desert spotted at intervals
with small oases in which I wasn't allowed to stay. Off in the distance
I could see this great brain shaped mountain. On approaching the
mountain I found a small stream of water leading down into the mountain.
As I descended I noticed that the stream ran through a bed of salt which
rendered the water bitter.
Descending further the water disappeared beneath a steel chute. Unable
to turn back while unwilling to go further I was nevertheless pushed into
the chute where dropping into a steel lined entry I was pushed into a steel
walled laundry room as the steel door slammed behind me. There was
plenty of water but no way out. There was a ventilation shaft along
the ceiling of the back wall. I conceived the plan of drinking to
repletion then urinating into the ventilation shaft creating such a smell
that they would want to find the source.
My plan worked. Three maintenance men opened the door and I dashed
out so fast they didn't know I had been there. Still in a steel lined
area I saw a bank of elevators which would take me back to ground level.
A door opened but the elevator was filled with classmates from my high
school who pushed me back refusing to allow me to enter.
I don't know how but I got back to the surface where once again I approached
the back side of the mountain which I ascended this time rather than descended.
Now, the mountain was deep in a frozen snow but starting from the low grade
at the back I had no trouble climbing. The sun was shining brightly
but all was frozen white. When I reached the top I found I was standing
above the brow of the face of a great idol carved in the snow. Thousands
of feet below terrified and intimidated people were kneeling in the desert
worshipping the great snow face.
From where I stood I couldn't see the face but I conceived the notion of
destroying the snow god to free the people. Leaping into the air
I came down on the god's forehead creating an avalanche. The great
face slid away as I descended thousands of feet on a cushion of snow to
As I hoped, the destruction of the god freed the minds of the people from
the domination of their morose god. The melting snow created numerous
streams watering the desert among which the people danced and sang as the
desert bloomed, while I looked on admiringly.
I don't know enough about Grey's background to say how unhappy his childhood
had been but since his plot of Riders/Rainbow roughly follows my
dream I suspect what the desert meant to him was the barrenness of his
early life. The appeal of the novels to Burroughs must have been
of the same order.
When Venters leaves the Valley Grey begins to lose control of his story.
The clarity of the first half becomes jumbled. He finally just crams
the ending through as Burroughs so frequently does.
Venters, riding Wrangle, crosses trails with the men who stole Night and
Black Star from Jane. A sort of running joke throughout the novel
is whether Wrangle is faster than the two blacks. Wrangle proves
his mettle in this chase overtaking the two even though they were ridden
by the best rider on the range, Jerry Card. Card is sort of a puzzle,
at least for me. His horsemanship was so great that racing at full
tilt leading one horse he could kept both horses side by side at full pace;
in addition he could hop back and forth from horse to horse. Whether
Grey was making a joke or not, I can't really tell, he describes Card as
froglike. Hop-frog? Card is a little misshapen runty man.
Whatever Grey had in mind for him he forgot to develop.
Card abandons the horses as the race ends, disappearing into the purple
sage. Wrangle gets away from Venters to be captured by Card.
In a rather spectacular scene Card is trying to guide the horse by biting
it on the nose. He is actually being dragged with his teeth in Wrangle's
nose. I'm no horseman but I'd really have to have the fine points
of this maneuver explained to me.
Unable to hit the small fragile Card with a rifle shot as rider and horse
rode alongside an escarpment, rather than let Card get away, Venters shot
the horse who leaped off the edge in what Grey describes as a fitting end
for the greatest horse and greatest rider of the purple sage. I can't
follow his reasoning here but he must be trying to say something.
Venters rides the horses down the main street of Cottonwoods with apparently
no more reason than to enrage Bishop Dyer and Elder Tull and announce in
stentorian tones that Jerry Card is dead.
Venters packs some saddlebags with provisions then, in what seems a comic
touch, since Jane's wonderful stable of horses is now empty, mounts a burro
to return to Surprise Valley. Riding one and leading a string of
burros he looks behind him to see if he is being followed by men on horses.
I presume he would have hopped off the burro and started running.
The burro appears to represent severe emasculation.
Another essential subplot has been the arrival of a small child still annoyingly
gushing babytalk- muvver for mother and oo for you - by the name of Fay
Larkin. Fay is going to be the heroine of the sequel. She was
the daughter of a Gentile woman who died. The woman asked Jane, who
was ever kind to the despised Gentiles, to take the child which Jane did.
She now 'cannot live without the child.'
stolen everything else of the woman in the name of God the Mormons now
too much for Lassiter who coldly disregards Jane's imploring to disregard
this insult and injury too, even though a moment before she 'couldn't live
without the child.' While it seems that Mormon men emasculate their
women, Mormon women in turn emasculate their men. Lassiter disregards
her, strapping on not only his big blacks but an extra brace that he hides
beneath his coat. The extra brace doesn't figure into the story so
it isn't clear why two gun Lassiter became four gun Lassiter.
Lassiter shoots the Mormons up pretty good killing Bishop Dyer. Elder
Tull is out of town at the moment. Lassiter and Jane know they have
to get a move on so, packing enough to stagger any ten horses, including
bags of gold, they skedaddle, riding Night and Black Star.
Somewhere in here Grey must have become stymied in his story not having
the progression to Rainbow Trail figured out. Venters still thinks
Bess was Oldring's girl hence something only his great love for her can
make him overlook. Loading up their burros they leave Surprise Valley.
Out in the purple sage who should appear much as he had at the beginning
the story but Lassiter, this time with Jane.
It now comes out that Venters thinks Oldring is Bess's father. Jane
lets out the fact that he had then killed his future wife's dad.
Bess is revolted at the thought, calling off the wedding. Lassiter
to the rescue. He produces a locket with a picture of his sister
Millie Erne and her husband Frank. Lassiter explains that Millie
was pregnant by Frank when Millie was kidnapped and that Frank Erne is
her real father. The obstacle that had appeared between Venters and
Bess now disappears as he hadn't killed her father, just the guy who reared
her. At the same time Bess is no longer the daughter of a low rustler
but of a respectable man.
But wait, there's more. Grey can produce as many twists as Edgar
Not only is Bess the daughter of Millie Erne but the Mormon kidnapper of
Millie had been no other than Jane Withersteen's father. The ever-forgiving
Lassiter, now Uncle Jim to Bess, mutters something like 'Aw shucks, Jane,
I don't pay that no nevermind.' and sister Millie is forgotten. Nearly
two decades of bad blood goes up in smoke with a shrug.
Venters and Bess head off for the safety and security of civilization in
Beaumont, Illinois, while Lassiter and Jane depart for the security of
Surprise Valley. Two problems remain, for the next ten pages or so,
Fay Larkin and Elder Tull.
Just like Tarzan, Lassiter can apparently smell a white girl because there
is no other way that he could have located her. She was being held
by some Mormons in a side canyon. Setting Jane to one side, Lassiter
enters the canyon from which, after firing every cartridge in his four
guns and belts -- Grey didn't actually make it clear that he was still
wearing the extra set up under his coat but he didn't say he took them
off either -- ol' four gun Lassiter kills all the varmints, emerging from
the canyon with little Fay in his arms and 'five holes in his carcass.'
glory over little Fay, which was problem number one, problem number two,
Elder Tull and his band of Mormon riders, appears on the horizon.
Leaping on their burros, did I mention Jane and Uncle Jim swapped Night
and Black Star with Venters and Bess for their burros?, the Hammer Of The
Mormons and Jane jog off with the Mormons in hot pursuit on horses, but
One would think even tired horses would have the advantage over burros
but it is a very tight race. You see why Grey's stuff translated
to the movies so well. Getting all safe within Surprise Valley on
the other side of balancing rock (did Grey borrow this detail from the
of Rider Haggard?) Uncle Jim lacks the nerve to roll that stone because
Jane has pretty completely emasculated him. 'Roll that stone' Jane
orders restoring Lassiter's will. He does just as Elder Tull and
his Mormon band reach the cleft. The stone falls eliminating Tull
and his Mormons while sealing off Surprise Valley 'forever' with Uncle
Jim, Jane and Little Fay Larkin inside. Of course they are well provided
because Venters has stocked the valley with burros, fruit tree stock and
plenty of grain seed. At the same time he had eliminated coyotes
and other beasts of prey so that jackrabbits, quail and other small food
animals have multiplied exponentially. It's going to be a long twelve
years in the valley so the bunch has to be well provided. Without
his gun though Lassiter is going to have to catch those jackrabbits with
his hands. During their long stay Lassiter and Jane apparently have no
sexual relations as there were no additional children when the valley was
reentered by the Mormons. Jane must truly have been a mother figure.
On this incomplete note Grey ends his novel.
Indeed, from the Enlightenment to the present has been a period of intense
religion formation, especially the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
Utopian and Scientific Socialism may both be considered forms of religion,
especially the later in its Semito-Marxist form.
Mormonism itself, which has no basis in science, originated from the brain
of Joseph Smith in 1830. Madame B's Theosophy, Mary Baker Eddy's
Christian Science, Ron Hubbard's Scientology and the Urantia religion all
have a basis in science as do most religions formed after Darwin.
With the emergence of science none of the old religions were satisfactory.
Hence it should come as no surprise that writers like Grey and Burroughs
were intensely concerned with the problem.
As I have mentioned in Something Of Value no adequate myth for the scientific
age developed, leaving men and women whose faith in the Semitic gods was
undermined with a stricken religious consciousness such as in the case
of John Shefford, the protagonist of Rainbow Trail and probably both Grey
So the search for meaning was endemic in this period, not being confined
to Burroughs and Grey, who were merely symptomatic.
Another attitude which both authors share is a yearning for the wide open
spaces of their youth which, while we may look back in envy, were rapidly
disappearing to their eyes. Somehow this yearning was also connected
to a feeling for the prehistoric past, perhaps as a Golden Age.
Both men were charmed by the notion of cliffdwellers. It would seem
that Americans of the period were also absolutely charmed and enamored
with the Anasazi of the American Southwest. Burroughs was very nearly
obsessed with the cliffdwellers. Novel after novel is replete with
cliffdwellings whether in Pellucidar, various terrestrial locations or
even on Mars.
The inhabitants of the skyscrapers in Chicago were nicknamed cliffdwellers.
Henry B. Fuller of Chicago wrote a novel called The Cliff Dwellers; a replica
of Southwest cliffdwellings was built for the Columbian Expo of 1893 which
apparently made a great impression on 17-year-old ERB. The premier
literary club of Chicago was known as the Cliff Dwellers which was on the
8th floor and roof of Orchestra Hall. I think Burroughs had a yearning
to be a member of this club.
Thus there were many cliffdweller influences in ERB's life, whether he
had ever seen the Anasazi dwellings before 1920 is doubtful; it would be
interesting to know if Grey had before 1910.
At any rate cliffdwellers had carved out homes in Surprise Valley in some
distant prehistoric time. Thus both Venters and Bess and uncle Jim
Lassiter and Jane were actual cliffdwellers utilizing the old dwellings.
Lassiter, Jane and Fay Larkin would be cliffdwellers for twelve years.
This must have had a very romantic appeal for Grey's contemporary readers.
During that period they dressed in skins living as close to a stone age
existence as was possible. So one may also compare the Surprise Valley
of Lassiter and Jane with the cliffdwellers of Burroughs' Cave Girl.
As all these
themes were in the air of the period it is not necessary for either of
these two authors to be influenced by each other to this point but it is
probable that both were influenced by the stone age stories of Jack
London and H. G. Wells among others.
I doubt Burroughs was influenced during this period by Grey although he
did have a copy of Rainbow Trail in his library, one of only two
Grey titles. We can't be sure when he bought Trail. Grey's
stories complement Burroughsian attitudes but only after his formative
period. ERB's Western and Indian novels may owe something to Grey
but all those were written after 1920.
Of The Purple Sage sets the scene for its denouement which is The
Rainbow Trail. Riders was a wonderful romantic vision
of the West which answered the needs of the period when for the first time
the percentage of Americans living in cities surpassed those living on
farms. Indeed, very like these authors, modern cliffdwellers had
a heartsick longing for the paradise they had lost. For decades it
would be a crazy dream of city dwellers to buy a farm and 'get back to
the land.' The movie 'Easy Rider' was a good laugh in that respect.
Both Burroughs' and Grey's novels addressed that need.
Burroughs' interest in Rainbow Trail would stem from religious aspects
and the perfect union of the Anima and Animus when John Shefford and Fay
Larkin unite. Cliffdwelling and the purity of Grey's noble savages,
the Navajos, would have been compelling to ERB.
Before continuing on to The Rainbow Trail let us take a brief interlude
to examine some aspects that would have interested ERB from the other Grey
title in his library - The Mysterious Rider.