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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE ANALYSIS / NOTES

CHAPTER 14

Summary

Jake finally returns to the ranch where he sees the two Irishmen sleeping in the shade of the wagon and Gus sitting on the porch with his jug. He admits to Gus that he was a fool to mention Montana, because now Call has gone looking for more hands to help drive both cattle and horses there. Now he doesn’t want to go and realizes he’ll practically have to marry Lorie to get out of it. The other factor about staying in Lonesome Dove, though, is the possibility that the sheriff, who was the brother of the unlucky dentist Jake accidentally killed, might come looking for him. Gus then gets up and tells him and the Irishmen to come to hide the horses, because Pedro and his vaqueros will be coming to take them back. Gus also teaches the Irish boys to shoot with a couple of Winchesters. Their awe at actually holding deadly weapons makes them less nervous about the horses. Newt finds it almost impossible to keep his eyes open and wonders whether he can really be a cowboy who’s supposed to be to ride without sleep for two or three days at a time. Gus decides they’ll pen the prime horses of the stock and hide the skinny ones in the thicket. That way, if they don’t like the looks of Pedro’s Army, they can just let him drive the skinny ones home. While the plan is set in motion by the other men, Newt stays behind and speaks to Jake, whom he still believes might be his father. He asks him what part of a man it’s best to shoot at. Jake laughs and says it’s his horse, because a man on foot is no threat.

Gus, Jake, Newt, and the Irishmen then move the skinny ones upriver with the order to take them as far as they can without taking them back into Mexico. Newt is overjoyed to work one side of the herd with Jake while Gus takes Sean and his brother with him.

Notes

This chapter highlights Jake’s sense of indecision about Montana. He would just like to stay a few months with Lorie and enjoy some leisure, but he fears the sheriff from Fort Smith. Also, staying with Lorie poses its only problems, given that he has promised to take her to San Francisco. All of this is ironic, because Jake’s decision to go north will assure his death. Gus is very perceptive about the thoughts of all the men he lives with, but he’s especially perceptive about the relationship that has formed between Jake and Lorie. He’s an intelligent man who seems to understand what motivates men more than the average person might be aware.



CHAPTER 15

Summary

Dish Boggett is supposed to stay with Deets and guard the better horse. However, thoughts of Lorie pull him toward the Dry Bean for one last shot at impressing her. Deets is actually glad to see Dish take off, because the man’s restlessness makes him nervous. He knows that only a woman can cure his affliction.

The reader is then given access to Deets’ thoughts. The black man loves being under the quarter moon which he is convinced the Indians understand better than any white man. Gus has told him that the moon controls the tides, but Deets wishes he had enough schooling to figure out how that could be. Gus also told him the world is round, but Deets thinks that’s just a joke. Finally, he settles down in the ground shadows, confident that he will be ready for any vaqueros who try to take the herd.

Dish arrives at the Dry bean and finds Lorena at a table with Jasper Fant and Xavier. Jasper is a “skinny little waddie” from upriver, and Dish is just as jealous of him as he would be about any other cowboy who showed an interest in Lorie. They all are glad to see Dish, because they need a fourth for cards. However, Xavier is in a bad mood, because Jake has deprived him of his whore, a drawing card for men to come and drink. Furthermore, Xavier has come to love Lorena even though she shows not the slightest interest in him except when he wants to buy sex.

Dish is shocked when Lorena asks him where Jake is, because he now realizes that he’ll have to just outlast Jake if he wants any chance at Lorie. Dish then speaks to Jasper Fant about why Lorie has stopped being a sporting woman, and they both feel resentment toward Jake. Jasper also tells Dish that he plans to sign on with Captain Call for the trip to Montana.

Notes

This is an interesting look at a man who would have been disregarded as having any kind of intelligence. The truth is that Deets is a deep thinker and wonders about many things he never had the chance to learn. It changes any stereotypes the reader might have had about a black man. Captain Call trusts him more than any of the other hands, including Gus, and Deets is naturally more competent than the rest even though he expresses that competence very subtly.

As for Dish, he still feels the desperation of loving a woman who doesn’t love him back. However, he is determined to outlast Jake, believing Lorie will eventually see that Dish is a better choice. This ironic, because he does outlast Jake by the end of the novel, but Lorie still has no use for him.

 

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