Billy The Kid

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade August 2001

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Many great tales of Billy the Kid have been passed from generation to generation"”legends of a Western "hero." However, in the essay, "Billy the Kid: Thunder in the West," Richard W. Etulain shares an unknown story of Billy the Kid's life, which opens the door to other interpretations. As Etulain is concerned with constructing a persona of Billy the Kid, so I have also developed my own explanation of his life. The following events illustrate that concern. Generally they reflect the question of whether Billy the Kid was a "superhero," an "archvillain," or both.

A positive image of Billy the Kid was revealed in the 1920's and 1930's. Billy the Kid's life story, commonly interpreted as a hero, was one compared to that of Robin Hood. This young, courageous man was said to bring fortune to the poor. Yet, it was not only the poor who saw him as a hero.

Many admired his freedom as an outlaw, and continued to avoid the thought of him being dangerous one.

If Billy the Kid lived the life he did in today's society, however, he would definitely not be seen as a hero; people wouldn't dare let him walk their streets. Not only did he steal riches, but cattle and horses for a living as well. This man took the lives of four others, and still rode free. He escaped from incarceration more than once, and participated in many criminal acts. He was considered very dangerous by many during his time, and was thus outlawed until his death.

Others, including myself, see Billy the Kid both as archvillain and hero. After analyzing both sides of the story, it is very complicated to side with only one. Both good and bad come from each of Billy the Kid's actions. Yes, he did steal from the rich, but in turn, he gave to the less fortunate. He killed, but in what many conclude as self-defense. The criminal acts that he did participate in were to protect and defend acquaintances of his. He did not give excuses, but explanations to many of his acts.

Billy the Kid was a bold, young man who stood for his beliefs, even though he knew he could face harsh consequences. He did many wrong acts as well as many great ones. He still lives in the myths and legends told of him today, however, no one can declare him as "good" or "bad" until we all know the true story of Billy the Kid; we can only believe our own interpretations of his adventurous life.