7 January 2002
The Sea of Grass
In this novel by Conrad Richter, the end of the New Mexico frontier as
seen through the eyes of Hal, the nephew of one of the last great cattle ranchers.
As civilization encroaches even onto that remote region, Colonel Jim Brewton
symbolizes the last struggle and eventual submission of the land to the inevitable
development of the forces of society. Jim was lord of his cattle ranch in which he
had loved so much. Lutie Cameron was the gentle, cultivated woman he brought
to the brutal new territory to be his wife. She married him, brought a foreign
prettiness to his ranch, and even gave him children of their own. But she hated the
land he loved, and their conflict in which they brought their children into was both
tragic and inevitable.
Conrad Richter made the setting of this book in New Mexico during the late
nineteenth century. He did this because even though as a boy he was saturated
with tales and the color of the Eastern pioneer days. In 1928 Conrad and his small
family moved to New Mexico, where his heart and mind were soon captured by
Conrad Richter picked the title Sea of Grass for a few reasons. Out in New
Mexico or just anywhere in the west really the grassland is just so incredibly large
that it is just like looking out into a vast and endless sea of grass, that looks like it
just goes on forever and ever. It was because of the beauty of this vast sea of grass
that Colonel James Brewton fights so hard to save it form society coming out to
settle the land, and build fences, and claim parts of it as there own, and not just
leaving it in the rightful hands of nature.