At the beginning of the movie the only institution is an alcoholic Marshall. He personifies “laissez faire”. The democratic change by the successful process of vote and the death of LV gives authority to the Marshall.
The senator Stoddard is the narrator. He tells us about when he was a younger attorney at law. He is the main hero of the movie. He is a representative of the republicanism solution against the criminality. He is an heir of John Dewey that thinks than school can be a solution. Education is the basis of law and order. He is a distant echo to the puritans, because, as Dewey, he believes in education and to democratic conversion. Puritans thought education was important to learn bible. Stoddard thinks education is important for an other reason : he wants to teach to the mass law and basic principles of republic as “the government rests on the people”. Tom Doniphon represents another form of heroism. If Stoddard represents Deweyein individualism he personifies rugged individualism. He refuses to enter in the legal way to fight Liberty Valence. His only advice to Stoddard is to choose between wearing a gun or leaving the town. He does not think that education is a solution. He prefers personal law. For him there are 2 choices: have a gun or leave the town. Stoddard method of law fails. We have the victory of western law, Stoddard is obliged to adopt the posture of the hero by taking a gun as Tom recommended. He snatches his placard of attorney at law. Only at the end we learn it's Tom Doniphon is kills LV but that not change the problem.
Mister Peabody is a pressman. The press is here to prevent the domination of Liberty Valence. The press announces the crimes of LV. Mister Peabody is the only journalist of the Shinbone star. Even if he is an alcoholic he is representative of the liberty of the press. Before being elected by force he presents himself as people consciousness and not as a politician. The press personifies freedom of small homesteaders against the domination of big cattlemen who, as we can see in the press, fight statehood. It is clarily a class struggle. Big cattlemen are pioneer individualist; they were here the first and prefer personal law which put small lander owners in danger. As would say Dewey, they are monsters. We can say this because they are on LV’s side. The press has also an important role when it announces the election of Stoddard and Peabody to be delegate to the territorial convention of Capitol City and the defeat of LV in this election. However the problem of the press is that it wants to do sensational, as we can see the reactions of happiness that Peabody have when sensational thing happen. We can also see this in the end when the press prefers the legend to reality. They want to sell paper.
Liberty valence represents the crime. He is a caricature of the individualist gangster. As Tom Doniphon he is a rugged individualist, but contrarily to tom he is a bad guy. He does what he wants, when he wants, and sows disorder in the town. He beats Peabody and destroys the Shinbone Star. He tries to stop progress by trying to be elected and by trying to kill Stoddard. The only way to stop him is either to scare him either to kill him. The crime is personified by LV who leads a gang which kills for big cattlemen. LV opposes democratic changes.
Commons men are followers. We can see them in the mass meeting elections and in the convention of capitol city. First at the beginning, they accept to conform to the rules of the the law of LV and his gang but then they will pass on the side of civic virtues and vote. An example of common men is the restaurant owner Peter Ericson. The amazing thing in the movie is that women as Hallie or Nora and the minorities as Pompey are representative of the civic virtues. They are against Liberty Valance, they want to learn the law. As Dewey would say, the individual should no longer be only the white men.