Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry|
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LONESOME DOVE SUMMARY
Call becomes exasperated to find out why Jake has returned, but has to wait while the man washes up and fastidiously eats some breakfast. Call is not a man who likes to wait, but he wants to know what’s behind the hard-ridden horse. Jake, who is basically a dreamer who drifts though life and gets away with it, finally begins his story. He had been in Montana two years before doing some scouting with the army. The Blackfoot tribe had still been acting up, so he used the army as protection when he drove some cattle to the Indians. His basic job had been to scare away the buffalo. He tells them that Montana will be the place to make their fortune once the Indians are finally settled. They are surprised at this comment given that Jake prefers whores, cleans shirts, and card-playing to work. However, he insists that even he can see an opportunity when he comes across it. Then, he tells them the reason he has been on the run is that in Arkansas, he accidentally killed a dentist who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Unfortunately, the dentist was the sheriff’s brother. Jake also has the reputation for being a gunfighter, based on an incident of pure luck years before that made him look like a crack shot. As a result, the sheriff had asked him to leave town a week before Jake accidentally killed the dentist. The sheriff, July Johnson, then began to pursue Jake, who rode for his life. Call and Gus are both a little disgusted by Jake’s excuses for the incident, but they have always been companeros, so they’ll stick by him.
Jake then comments on how much Newt has grown and is amazed to learn Maggie
has been dead for nine years. Augustus tells him that Newt has been with
them ever since his Ma died, that this was the Christian thing to do to
take him in, especially since Jake is likely his father.
Through the telling of his adventures, we not only learn more about Jake’s character, but we also learn more about the past history between Gus, Call, and Jake. They have lived through many scrapes together as Texas Rangers and have a deep bond that makes them watch each other’s backs. We also learn that there was evidently a greater feeling on Maggie’s part for Jake than Jake had for Maggie. It is likely that Newt is his son, and she was deeply grieved when he left them. Jake’s character is somewhat suspect, because of his dreamy nature, but he seems a good man in spite of his propensity to find trouble. The comment about Montana is foreshadowing in that, combined with Gus and Call’s desire to move their company north, it seems as if it might be a place where they’ll eventually end up. It is ironic when Gus comments that Jake might be Newt’s father, because later, we will see that he’s always known the boy belonged to Woodrow Call.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Lonesome Dove".
. 09 May 2017