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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Chapter five begins with another look into the character of Augustus McCall. He gets up early every morning before the rest of the hands at the Hat Creek Cattle Company for three reasons: he believes that sleeping too much is a waste of a manís life, he enjoys the solitude of the rising sun and the reading of the Bible, and he makes the sourdough biscuits, almost an art form in his mind. Heís followed outside by Call who, unlike Gus, has always found it difficult to awake in the morning. They discuss why Dish Boggett is sleeping on the front porch, and why Gus is reading the Good Book. Call is not a man who smiles, has fun, or even desires to make money. Heís a man for whom work is the essence of life.

When Newt awakes, heís excited to see Dish has spent the night, for he idolizes the young man, because heís a real cowboy who has been up the trail to Dodge City more than once. Newt has yet to experience anything like that.

Call muses to himself that itís amazing that such a small operation could keep three grown men and a boy occupied from sunup until dark, day after day. And yet there was still so much to do from re-roofing the barn to finishing the well they had been digging for six weeks. Gus muses that if they had five or six more like Dish, they could make up a herd and drive it themselves up north, something that had been in his mind for a year or more. Like Call, the idea of buying land farther north was an appealing idea to Gus.

Call offers Dish a place with his outfit instead of him signing up with Shanghai Pierce. He says theyíre going to Mexico that night to steal some stock and drive them north. Heís put off this decision while waiting for Deets to come back. The black man, who was more of a right hand to Call than any of the others, had been sent three days before to San Antonio with a deposit of money. Few bandits would ever suspect a black man of having any money, so he is the logical choice to complete that errand.

Dish contemplates Captain Callís offer seriously, because he knows the man is not one to indulge in idle talk. Furthermore, he recognizes that he could make Lorena notice him more if he saw her a few days in a row. So, he tells Call he will sign on with Hat Creek. Captain Call seems to ignore his comment, because he is watching the advance of two horsemen up the road and has not turned his head since he first saw them. Call tells Gus to look ahead, because Deets is coming home, and heís not alone. In fact, heís with an old friend of theirs that Gus would be very interested to see: Jake Spoon.


This chapter shows us even more traits of the major characters that help us flesh out the kind of men they are. Gus, for all his rough edges, enjoys sunrises and reading the Bible. Call awakens reluctantly each day even though he has an unbelievable work ethic. Dish is in love with Lorena, the town whore, and so signs on the Hat Creek Cattle Company for the chance to see her more often. And Newt is still at an age when he has heroes like Dish Boggett, who, in spite of his young age, is a seasoned cowboy.

Also, we are introduced to a new character by name only - Jake Spoon - but itís obvious by the way Gus and Call react when they see him that heís been a significant part of their lives in the past. We are also made to realize that for Captain Call and Gus, the real plans are to earn enough money to move their outfit north where the real money can be made. However, itís ironic that Gus thinks about driving a herd north, because later, when they are well into this drive, he will regret leaving Texas.


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