Ned Kelly and his gang are portrayed in two very different ways by two very different documents. "The Jerilderie Letter" , as dictated by Ned Kelly, is an autobiographical "statement of fact and self justification". As its title would suggest, "The Jerilderie Letter" portrays Ned Kelly as the wronged party, victimised, threatened and set up by a corrupt police force, and whose actions are completely justified. The article, "Capture of The Kelly Gang" , on the other hand, depicts Ned Kelly and his gang as a "formidable alliance of criminals" , a group of "desperadoes" whose demise has caused huge excitement within society.
"The Jerilderie Letter" invokes a view of Ned Kelly that is a combination of sympathy, admiration and chivalry. One cannot help but feel that Kelly has been targeted by a corrupt police force who can find no better way to pass their time than to harass the Kelly family and fabricate misdemeanours so as to arrest Ned Kelly. If Ned is to be taken at his word, he is the wronged party, unknowingly accepting a stolen horse and subsequently being jailed for it: "Wright who was a stranger to me was in a hurry to get back to Mansfield and I gave him another mare and he told me if I found his mare to keep her until he brought mine back". "She was a chestnut mare.the property of a Telegraph Master in Mansfield, he lost her on the 6th gazetted her on the 12th of march and I was a .
prisoner in Beechwood Gaol until the 29 of march therefore I could not have stole the mare." .
It is interesting that Ned Kelly does not refer to a "gang" at any time. He mentions only Dan Kelly by name in the account of the Mansfield incident. The reference to "our two mates" could possibly mean Joe Byrne and Stephen Hart, the remaining gang members referred to in "Capture of The Kelly Gang", however these two men are never once mentioned by name. The inference in "The Jerilderie Letter" is that Ned Kelly acted with his brother Dan, his stepfather George King or alone, not backed up by a gang.