Now he faced it, and the nightmare came at last to its conclusion. Coldly analyzing it, he knew his own fear had force him to fall. And there it was. Fear. Facing it, admitting it, he could start from that point and think straight. But he had to start there because, according to the code of the arena, a bronco rider wasn't afraid of man, beast or devil. Especially Tom Black, Killer Tom Black. But you don't rise as long as he had ridden without knowing a few times when fear does share the saddle. You don't admit it, even to yourself. You get up off the ground and back in the saddle, and you ride the bronco to a standstill, and the fear with it.

In Chapter 39, as Tom lies in his hospital bed, he attempts to analyze his fall at the Garden in the New York City rodeo. In a rare moment, Tom recognizes his fear, but soon pushes it from his thoughts once again. His struggles deal with man's fundamental relationship with nature and with animals. Traditional Ute belief dictates that man, at least at times, must fear animals and, thereby, respect them. Rodeo culture, however, values brutality and fearlessness over respect, and Tom feels the pressure to overcome this fear accordingly.