Jim Smith, who was born in 1881 in Arizona as one of the 52 children of the Mormon Lot Smith 52
. His father made Jim learn quite quickly how to assert himself:
“When Jim turned eleven, his father gave him a rifle, some bullets, and a packet of salt and said “Here’s your food for a week”” (p. 99, ll. 22 - 24).
When Jim Smith was a young man, he worked in Canada, being involved in shootings too often, however, he got problems with the police and thus, he returned to Arizona. He married his first wife and worked as a lumberman 53
and farmer. During the First World War, after his wife had died, he served in Siberia54
. His outward appearance is described like this:
“Jim Smith was going on fifty […] and he had some wear and tear on him, including a star-shaped bullet scar on his right shoulder from an incident he felt wasn’t worth discussing. Plus, he was pretty much bald, and all the hair was missing from the left side of his body on account of the time that he was dragged by a horse for two miles. But Jim Smith was hardly worn out.” (p. 99, l. 34 - p. 100, l. 2)
When Lily gets to know Jim Smith in 1930, he is a widower55
and has a garage in Red Lake. Lily is delighted with56 his calmness and his special attention
: “Jim Smith could see things with those pale blue eyes that other people couldn’t see. […] And nothing ever rattled Jim Smith. He was always calm, never lost his temper, and never flailed about trying to figure out his own mind. He always knew what he thought and how he felt. He was dependable and established
. He was solid
” (p. 100, l. 5 - 15).
Lily does not really love Jim – she is rather pragmatic and the marriage is a convenience marriage57
for her. Jim Smith, on the other hand, really loves Lily. When she asks him whether he wants to marry her, he answers without thinking about it:
“I wanted to marry you ever since I saw you […]. I just been waiting for a good time to ask” (p. 114, ll. 13 - 15)
Lily’s two conditions (a partnership of equals58
and Lily being the only wife of Jim, who was raised a Mormon) do not disturb him: “Sounds good to me. […] Lily Casey, from what I know of you, you’re just about as much woman as any man can handle” (p. 114, ll. 20 - 24).
Jim Smith is a dedicative father
. He loves his daughter, Rosemary: “Rosemary adored her father, and he was completely unfazed59
by her wild streak. They were happy to spend hours in each other’s company, Rosemary talking nonstop and Jim barely saying a word.” (p. 143, ll. 5 - 8).
Jim Smith has other educational methods than his wife: When Rosemary decides to marry Rex Walls, Lily is terribly disappointed and thinks that her daughter is the only child, whom she was not able to teach. Jim, however, does not think so, which is revealed, when he talks to Lily about Rosemary’s marriage:
“I feel like I failed – Don’t beat yourself up. […] She might not have turned out like you planned, but that don’t mean she turned out wrong” (p. 264, ll. 3 - 5).
When Rosemary and Rex Walls have married and drive into an uncertain future, Jim knows that it incriminates60
“Jim put his arm around me and we watched them take off up the street, heading out into open country like a couple of half-broke horses” (p. 265, ll. 30 f.)
Jim Smith, however, is not always as strong as shown in the quotation above. When the Smiths move to Phoenix/Arizona after they sold the KC ranch in 1945, Jim Smith does not feel comfortable61
: “My husband just didn’t see the point of city life, didn’t understand why anyone would want to live like this. So many things about it struck him as contrary to the proper and natural way of the world. The simple truth was, he missed the outdoors” (p. 231, ll. 10 - 16).
During a hard winter in Arizona, Jim Smith is in his element again: He saves the cattle from freezing to death. When he is offered the management of the AIC ranch again, he declines because he is too proud of himself
. Instead of managing his former ranch again, he goes to Horse Mesa with Lily, working as a building labour. Later, he becomes the inofficial mayor of Horse Mesa.
52In 1991, a biography was published about him: “Major Lot Smith” by Ivan Barret
56to be delighted with s.th.: von etw. begeistert sein
59to be unfazed: sich von etw. nicht stören lassen
60to incriminate: belasten
61to feel comfortable: sich wohl fühlen
62to be proud of oneself: seinen Stolz haben