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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Captain Call tells the men working in the well that they need to stop for the afternoon and rest, because they’re going to Mexico that night. Newt becomes very excited, because Call hadn’t separated him from the rest like he usually does. He’s finally going to ride on a foray across the border to steal some cattle. So, Pea, Dish, and Newt walk up to the barn and idly sit around talking and throwing knives. Then, they notice two riders approaching from the east who begin to read the sign Augustus had made for the Hat Creek Cattle Company. The sign is not the usual in that it doesn’t just state the name of the outfit. Instead, it declares that their company is also a livery emporium, and it names everyone, except Newt, who worked there. It even ends with a Latin motto which Augustus found in a school book, but for which he had no translation. Call is disgusted by the ostentatious appearance of the sign, but the other men are proud of it. However, no one other than those who had their names on the sign have much use for it, so it is unusual to see anyone looking it over as closely as these two men.

Finally, the two strangers wander up to the barn themselves and the stocky, red-faced one introduces himself as Wilbarger. He tells them he needs forty horses, because a bunch of Mexicans have run off his horses two nights before, and he needs to replace them in order to drive a herd of cattle to Kansas. They tell him he’d best talk to the Captain who handles all their deals.

Newt openly states that he hopes he goes with them that night. Deets laughs, claps him on the back, and asks him if he’s ready to get shot at. Newt thinks that Deets is the only man in the outfit who really understands how he feels. He does everything he can to pick up Newt’s spirits, but Newt also knows that no one, including Deets, can make up for the feeling that the Captain holds something against him.

Dish is reminded of his feelings for Lorena and heads towards the town. When he arrives at the building where she lives, he hears the unmistakable sound of someone else making love with Lorena. He momentarily checks his gun and thinks about killing whoever it might be. But he re-holsters the weapon and walks down to the river to wash up. When he gets back to the Dry Bean an hour later, Lorena is sitting at one of the tables with Jake Spoon. By the way she is looking at him, Jake has already done his magic, and Dish figures he may as well go back to the ranch. However, Jake sees him and calls him over. Jake loves a crowd and wants Dish to drink and play cards. Dish now thinks of himself as just a man with a glass in his hand whose life has now turned to mud. Nonetheless, he sits down, and by the middle of the second bottle, he has stopped worrying about Lorie and Jake Spoon.


This chapter is filled with foreshadowing. We see that Newt has hopes of going on his first raid into Mexico to steal cattle, but that there’s something he feels the Captain holds against him. We see Dish looking at Jake Spoon as a rival for Lorena’s affections, and we see two men looking to purchase forty horses. All these situations prepare us for events yet to come.



Augustus has given up any notion of an afternoon with Lorena now that Jake is back. He is content with his jug when Wilbarger rides up looking for Call. The man explains his need for forty horses, and Call assures him that they’ll have a hundred head available at sunup the next day. They won’t allow him to look at the stock they do have since they have none at all. However, Call says he can sell the man three horses that day. Wilbarger gives in and agrees that he’ll pay the company $35 a horse when they produce them the next day.

Once Wilbarger leaves, Call tells Gus that they all have to be in good shape, because he plans on stealing the horses from the Hacienda Flores, the largest ranch in Coahuila, Mexico. Call wants to give Wilbarger his forty, and then, they’ll keep the rest and head north. He figures they can hire enough cowboys, and they’ll take Newt as well.

Gus wanders off to tell the rest of the men the plans and finds Dish Boggett sicker than he’s ever been from the two bottles of whiskey. Newt is happy about the news he’s waited to hear for years, but he can hardly take time to enjoy it because of Dish. They all worry about how the Captain will take his drunkenness, because it’s a vice he doesn’t easily tolerate. Dish himself is aware enough to be worried, too, and he knows his reputation demands that he sit a horse and round up livestock as he’s promised. When Call finds him, he’s tempted to fire Dish, but the young man assures him that he can ride, and once he’s on the horse, the sickness will wear off. So Call just says that they will leave at sundown.

When Newt and Deets arrive at the barn where the Captain is attempting to saddle the filly, Call hands the boy a holstered pistol and a nice gun belt. Newt finally feels grownup. He and Deets smile together over this moment and then join the other five to cross the river and ride towards Hacienda Flores.


This chapter is all about Newt’s rite of passage and changes that other characters must face. Newt has crossed over from childhood to being an adult, and it’s a glorious moment, not just for him, but also for the men who have helped and supported him over the years.

As for Dish, he has had a rite of passage himself. He is lovesick for Lorena and drunk-sick, because Jake has captured her attention. He knows the feeling of having loved and lost.

Captain Call has also had a moment of change. He has made the decision that they’re going to move their operation north once they have all the horses from the Hacienda Flores.


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