Arizona Ames (1932)

04 Jun
Credit: Edward S. Curtis, Early 1900s; National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution; Essential plant for the survival of the Mescalero Apache People

Harvesting mescal agave plant for food; Credit: Edward S. Curtis, Early 1900s;
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution;
Essential plant for the survival of the Mescalero Apache People

McCall’s Magazine, October 1929 – January 1930
Harper and Brothers, New York 1932
Grit Magazine 13 December 1936 – 3 January 1937
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine Dec 1947
Zane Grey’s Western Magazine (Australia) Jul 1956, Jul 1960 (Galactic Central)

Just as the mescal agave kept some people alive, others found it incredibly dangerous:

“Like the thorns of the cholla cactus, these mescal points broke off in flesh and worked in. Mescal, both in its deadly thorns and the liquor distilled from its heart, typified the hard and acrid nature of the Tonto.”

According to some of the blurbs on the net:

“Arizona (Rich) Ames has been called the most lovable gunslinger of Zane Grey’s writing career.”

Western Ranch House Credit: Old Pictures

Western Ranch House
Credit: Old Pictures

Yet this lovable gunslinger has a temperament that is likely to get him into serious trouble if he begins to hate a person. One family he despises is the Tate family. Rumor has it that the Tate’s were responsible for his father’s death. There is no proof, yet Rich has allowed this suspicion to fester and take over some of his self-control.

His twin-sister Nesta becomes involved with one of the sons of the Tate family, Lee Tate. Lee is a right bastard and rapes Nesta. Getting her on her own was a simple matter. All he had to do was enlist the help of one of his exes who happened to have it in for a girl who was prettier than herself. Nesta finds herself unable to extricate herself from the situation and inevitable ends up pregnant. Rich and her fiancee discover the truth when Nesta tries to kill herself – wanting to spare her family the shame of her unmarried pregnancy and unwilling to trick her fiancee.

Zane Grey shines a light on two huge problems in his society through Nesta: Unwanted pregnancies and rape. A woman was very much reliant on men for her place in society – even in the Wild West. Perhaps especially in the Wild West. There, as so many other places and times, men were permitted behavior women were not even supposed to know about. If it came out that Tate had fathered a child upon Nesta, she would have been the one to bear the blame no matter that he had forced himself upon her. She and the child would have had to bear shame for the child’s existence. So I can understand (kind of) that Nesta’s mother would be willing to trick Nesta’s fiancee into thinking that the child was his by getting the two of them married in a hurry.

Cappy Tanner, a good friend of the family and reserve-father for the children (Mr. Ames is dead), sees the potential for trouble brewing and is very worried – rightly so.

Arizona Ames on Open Library




  • Finnish: Arizona Ames; Translated by Don Engström; Helsinki, Taikajousi, 1983
  • German: Der Löwe von Arizona; Translated by ; , 1956
  • Italian: Arizona Ames; Translated by Agnese Silvestri Giorgi; Milano, Sonzogno, 1958
  • Norwegian: Rettferdighetens rytter; Translated by ; 1969



Posted by on 2014-06-04 in Books


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