The Role of the Traitor

“The traitor-whose presence will be foregrounded if he exists, and invented if he does not-serves at least two purposes. First, he is a foil created to further heighten the noble or at least invincible character of the hero: only a treacherous shot in the back or a deceitfully planned ambush could defeat James/Bonney /Bass. Open and fair fights always end in the hero’s triumph. And then, his character is further glorified by this contrast with the deceitful adversary. The hero gains stature when he defeats enemies of stature; and he is also raised in our esteem when only “dirty little cowards” can gun him down from behind.”