American Literature, Women's Studies, Western Literature
Buffalo Bill was and still is considered a symbol for the American West. His Wild West Show brought the excitement of frontier life to people in the Eastern U.S. and even in Europe. The more subtle frontier story, however, is told by his wife, Louisa Frederici Cody. In her memoir, Memories of Buffalo Bill, Louisa further idealizes her husband by giving an "inside look" at the life of the great American hero. Never mentioning William Cody's two divorce attempts, Louisa maintains a flawless depiction of her husband as they both "worked for tomorrow."
My essay examines the reasons why Louisa would stretch the truth, and even downplay her own strength, just to keep her husband's facade alive a little longer. I assert that Louisa and her husband felt a duty to mythologize the frontier and make it a part of the American identity. With Buffalo Bill acting as a representative of the American West both at home and abroad, his character must not be marred with the truth of marital troubles. Just as the frontier was idealized, so must Louisa Cody portray a polished image of her husband—a perfect husband, father, frontiersman, and living legend.
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Weaver, Summer, "Life as the Wife of Buffalo Bill" (2018). Student Works. 251.
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