Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Brief Intro

“Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” directed by George Roy Hill, is a 1969 American Western film that follows the real-life outlaws Robert LeRoy Parker (Butch Cassidy) and Harry Longabaugh (the Sundance Kid) as they flee from a determined posse after a string of train robberies. The film stars Paul Newman as Butch Cassidy and Robert Redford as the Sundance Kid, blending action, comedy, and poignant moments to tell a story of friendship and adventure in the fading days of the Wild West.

Literary Devices Used in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

1. Irony

Movie SceneExample of Irony
Butch and Sundance planning to go straightThey plan to rob banks in Bolivia as a ‘safer’ option
Butch claiming he can swimHe admits he can’t swim after jumping into a river

2. Foreshadowing

Movie SceneExample of Foreshadowing
Opening scene with old photosIndicates the historical nature and eventual fate of duo
Etta Place saying she won’t watch them diePredicts the tragic end of Butch and Sundance

3. Symbolism

Movie SceneExample of Symbolism
Bicycle sequenceRepresents the arrival of modernity
Bolivia landscapesSymbolize the unreachable safety and freedom

4. Dialogue

Movie SceneExample of Dialogue
“Who are those guys?”Reflects the relentless nature of their pursuers
Butch’s humorous lines during chasesAdds levity and showcases his wit

5. Juxtaposition

Movie SceneExample of Juxtaposition
Butch and Sundance’s personalitiesButch’s talkative nature vs. Sundance’s silent demeanor
Tranquil moments before action scenesPeaceful scenes followed by sudden violence

6. Flashback

Movie SceneExample of Flashback
Etta’s memoriesProvides background on Sundance and Etta’s relationship
Butch’s past endeavorsGives insight into his leadership and planning skills

7. Hyperbole

Movie SceneExample of Hyperbole
Butch’s elaborate escape plansOften exaggerated to show his optimism
Sundance’s shooting skillsAlmost superhuman accuracy

8. Allusion

Movie SceneExample of Allusion
References to other Western outlawsConnects the duo to broader Western mythology
The Hole-in-the-Wall GangHistorical reference to real-life outlaws

9. Metaphor

Movie SceneExample of Metaphor
The journey to BoliviaRepresents a futile quest for a new beginning
Butch and Sundance as “old-fashioned”Metaphor for the fading Old West

10. Personification

Movie SceneExample of Personification
The relentless posseThe posse takes on an almost mythical, omnipresent quality
Trains and bikesRepresent technological advancement encroaching on the old ways

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies: Detailed Analysis

Butch Cassidy

Literary DeviceExplanation
IronyButch’s charm and humor mask his serious criminal undertakings
DialogueHis witty lines showcase his intelligence and leadership

Sundance Kid

Literary DeviceExplanation
HyperboleHis extraordinary shooting skills highlight his reputation
JuxtapositionHis quiet nature contrasts with Butch’s talkative personality

Etta Place

Literary DeviceExplanation
FlashbackProvides depth to her relationship with Sundance
SymbolismHer presence symbolizes a fleeting connection to normalcy

Character Dynamics

The dynamic between Butch and Sundance is central to the narrative. Their friendship, characterized by witty banter (dialogue) and mutual trust, drives the story forward. Etta Place’s relationship with Sundance, highlighted through flashbacks, adds an emotional layer to the film. The juxtaposition of Butch’s optimism with Sundance’s pragmatism creates a balanced partnership that is both engaging and endearing.

Thematic Analysis

Conflict with Modernity

Literary DeviceExplanation
SymbolismThe bicycle and trains symbolize the encroachment of modernity
IronyTheir skills are outdated in the face of new technology

Friendship and Loyalty

Literary DeviceExplanation
DialogueReflects their deep bond through humorous and serious exchanges
ForeshadowingEtta’s warning about their fate underscores their loyalty

The Inescapable Fate

Literary DeviceExplanation
ForeshadowingEarly scenes hint at their eventual demise
MetaphorTheir journey represents a futile struggle against fate

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Visual and Sound Techniques

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
IronyCinematographyJuxtaposes beautiful landscapes with violent action
DialogueSound designEnhances the wit and humor through clear audio delivery
SymbolismVisual motifsRepeated symbols like the bicycle highlight themes
ForeshadowingLightingDark, foreboding scenes hint at tragic outcomes

Key Scene Analysis

Key Scene 1: The Train Robbery

  • YouTube Link: Train Robbery Scene
  • Breakdown: This scene blends action with humor, showcasing Butch’s quick thinking and Sundance’s shooting skills. The use of irony and hyperbole is evident as the duo pulls off the robbery with style and flair.

Key Scene 2: The Bicycle Ride

  • YouTube Link: Bicycle Ride Scene
  • Breakdown: The bicycle scene symbolizes the advent of modernity, contrasting with the traditional Western setting. The song “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” adds a whimsical touch, enhancing the irony of the moment.

Key Scene 3: The Final Shootout

  • YouTube Link: Final Shootout Scene
  • Breakdown: This scene uses foreshadowing and metaphor to highlight the inevitable fate of the protagonists. The intense action is paired with poignant moments of dialogue, encapsulating the film’s themes of loyalty and the inescapable passage of time.


Test your understanding of the literary devices in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” with this interactive quiz! 📚🎬

Multiple Choice Quiz:

  1. What literary device is used when Butch and Sundance plan to go straight by robbing banks in Bolivia?
  2. Which device highlights the relationship between Butch and Sundance through their humorous exchanges?
  3. What does the bicycle symbolize in the film?
    • A) Friendship
    • B) Modernity
    • C) Adventure
    • D) Danger
  4. How does foreshadowing manifest in Etta’s warning about Butch and Sundance’s fate?
    • A) It creates suspense
    • B) It reveals their backstory
    • C) It hints at their tragic end
    • D) It adds humor
  5. What technique is used to enhance the irony in the train robbery scene?
    • A) Lighting
    • B) Sound design
    • C) Cinematography
    • D) Visual motifs

Answer key:

  1. B
  2. C
  3. B
  4. C
  5. C