Dan moved his family out west to protect his son from dying of consumption and has somehow managed to last on bone-dry prairie land, though he’s borrowed heavily against the future. Where his son (an FP) is more reckless, Dan is more thoughtful, considerate, and contemplative of his decisions – he makes his choice to escort Ben Wade to the train in Yuma because of practicality, but also isn’t easily persuaded to like or trust him, unlike some of his companions. He knows Ben’s reputation as a psychopath and warns his son not to listen to his stories or fall beneath his influence. As time goes on, we start to realize that Ben is attempting to make up for his sins in the past – an act of cowardice and shame in the Civil War. He is determined to make himself into a courageous hero in the present. He doesn’t appear to think much about beyond what is obvious or practical, and has little interest in Ben’s philosophical musings. Many of his early decisions are rational – he allows the outlaws to take their horses in exchange for their life, and tries to keep his sons away from Ben and his men after they witness the stagecoach robbery. He borrows money to see them through a bad year, then figures on selling his cattle early to make enough to pay back the loan shark. Seeing that taking Ben to the train could earn him the big bucks he needs, he agrees to do so – and then becomes militant in his refusal to back down, go back on his word, turn coward, or renegotiate beyond a higher pay cut, even when the odds are not in his favor (100 to 1). Dan is Fi-ish in his refusal to go back on his word and his inability to see things other than in black and white; he has fierce moral opinions about Ben and his outlaw gang, but doesn’t readily share them, and above all, he wants the respect of his son. Enough to die for it.

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Dan has principles that baffle Ben, because he’s never met anyone else who wasn’t a self-righteous hypocrite. What Dan says he’s going to do, he does, and no amount of blackmail, threats, and bribes causes him to change his mind. He flat out tells Ben, once the man starts making corrupt offers, to stop talking to him, period. He’s attempting to make up for a mistake in his past that he sees as an act of badness and cowardice. He doesn’t like it that his son looks up to Ben, because he wants the kid to “choose the right path” in life. Dan tries to set an example for him, in that way, by showing him what honor looks like, although he can become real stubborn in doing it. His wife asks him not to go, everyone around him tells him to turn back, and still, he insists on standing on his moral principles and honor. He doesn’t hold for arguments. Dan also doesn’t like conflict, and avoids it where he can.