Michael Punke seems (I’m still navigating my way through it) to have written a pure western- pure frontier spirit- pushing limits, the limits on geographic, physical, and moral planes, and crossing borders, the frontier and the borders between vices and virtues. What he writes about guilt is incisive: “how can you escape something that comes from inside?”
The frontier is harsh and doesn’t tolerate weakness. The voyageurs thrive because of an irrepressible spirit of optimism and camaraderie. Hugh Glass survives, though, not only because of his grit, but because of his tenderness in helping an old woman, and because of the tenderness of others like Bridger and the Sioux community. He almost beats Bridger to death and Bridger gives up his life- glass eventually shows him mercy and they both feel much better for it. That’s teaches us something about how reconciliation works here on earth.
In the end, a story so caught up in brutality and revenge, The Revenant leaves you with the vital experience of faith and expansion. The new Frontier is new life, and hugh glass really struggles to live again.