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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE PLOT SUMMARY NOTES

CHAPTER 16

Summary

By the end of the first day’s hiring, Call has collected four boys, none yet eighteen. He goes to the Spettle home where they family seems ready to starve out. Because of this, he’s reluctant to take the Widow Spettle’s oldest sons. However, she insists that they go, because she has six other children to feed. She cries terribly when they leave, but she knows that they will be better off. Call pays her a month’s wages to help her out and then the boys start walking for Lonesome Dove with a blanket each and a Navy Colt with half its hammer knocked off. Call assures them they will be well equipped before they start out, but the boys refuse to leave the gun.

Call then goes to the Rainey household where there were a dozen children, eight of them strapping, healthy boys. He eventually hires the two oldest boys, Jimmy and Ben. His next step will be to get as many cattle as he can and get them branded before they head north.

When Call returns home, he finds the horses well guarded and Gus in his usual place on the porch. He asks his partner whether Pedro Flores made any attempt to recapture the horses, but Gus tells him that Pedro is dead, news brought by Jasper Fant. Call feels somewhat bad about Pedro’s death, even though he has been their enemy off and on for the last thirty years. It leaves him with an empty feeling, but he now turns to Montana as his next adventure.

Notes

Call’s search for cowboys for the drive north shows us life in the southern most part of Texas after the Civil War. Some families are more prosperous than others, but all live hard lives trying to raise many children. In many instances, the women are either widowed or alone and have to find a way to feed their children. It’s not a good life for most, but rather one of sheer survival.


The news of Pedro Flores’ death has an interesting effect on Call. Gus is right when he says that Call needs someone to outwit in order to feel alive. At one time, it was Kicking Wolf, a Comanche who eluded the Rangers for twenty years. When he was gone, Call used Flores as the bandit he needed to outwit. Now, with both of his adversaries gone, he turns to the adventure of moving north to Montana. It’s what gives him life.


CHAPTER 17

Summary

Jake has only been in Lonesome Dove for ten days when Lorena realizes she has a big job to do: make him keep his promise to take her to San Francisco. In the interim, he has moved in with her, and she discovers that he is more attached to her than she is to him. It is a curious thing about him. However, he never acts like he’s going to Montana, and she feels a crisis coming on as they get closer to the day they will leave. She knows she will have to keep an eye on him.

One day while Jake is out working, Gus walks into the Dry Bean and asks Lorena for sex. He offers her $50, an unheard of price, even though she insists that she’s with Jake. She tells Gus that Jake takes care of her, but Gus observantly points out that Lorena takes care of Jake, not the other way around. Lorena is indignant that Gus would insist, but the thought of the $50 is compelling. Then, Gus suggests that they cut the cards with Lorena as the prize if he wins. He even says she can keep the money even if he loses. Gus wins, by cheating Lorie suspects, but she agrees to hold to the bargain. He even pays Lippy $10 to stay quiet about sleeping with Lorie. Before they go upstairs, Gus tells Lorena that the promise of San Francisco Jake made is just part of his game, and if she wants to hold him to the promise, she’ll need Gus’ help.

Notes

This chapter serves both as a means of foreshadowing and also to emphasize the bond that exists between Gus and Lorena, even though she seems unaware of it. He not only wants her for the sex he can buy, but he also seems determined to watch out for her well-being. His insistence on the afternoon of sex is more about an attempt to break the hold Jake has on her than anything else. He worries about her determination to go on the drive if it means staying with Jake, but he doesn’t intend to stop her. He’s only there to help. This foreshadows events which will follow when the drive north begins and how he will save her from Blue Duck later in the story.

 

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