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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE BOOK NOTES

CHAPTER 18

Summary

When Augustus returns to their ranch, he sees that the cattle are being held in a long valley about five miles from Lonesome Dove. Every night Call has taken five or six men and crosses the river to steal as many cattle from Mexico as he can. He knows there will be little resistance now that Pedro Flores is dead. He then has the men brand them before he goes out again the next night. He is impressed by two things during these days of preparation: his filly is an outstanding horse which seems no more affected by work than he does, and the Irishmen have become an integral part of the outfit. What they lose through inexperience is more than made up for by their energy and their will to learn.

Gus observes Jake’s surly disposition, based on his indecision about going on the drive. When Jake announces he won’t go, Gus reminds him that he caused this whole plan to go to Montana by proclaiming it a cattleman’s paradise. He further informs Jake that they need him to show them the route. His ultimate purpose in cajoling Jake, however, is to get him to decide to take Lorena. Jake just climbs on his horse and leaves. When Call asks Gus if Jake will go with them, Gus tells him that he’ll only go if he can take Lorie, too. Call refuses and rides away himself, wondering if this was all Gus’ excuse for a joke. So, the problem of a woman on the drive is still up in the air.

Notes

Augustus has promised to help Lorena with her decision to follow Jake on the drive. He reminds Jake of his responsibilities to the Hat Creek Cattle Company and how bringing her along would not be such a bad thing. However, there is still resistance in Jake to the idea and definitely resistance in Captain Call. It’s also ironic that Gus would suggest that she come, because later she will be kidnapped and raped by Indians.



CHAPTER 19

Summary

This chapter concerns the thoughts and feelings of Newt and the bond he seems to have with Deets. Newt is still dwelling on the excitement of the north and what he will see there. He has made friends with Sean O’Brien and discovered that Sean hates his own father, which puts a different spin on the fact that Newt has never known his. Of course, it makes him yearn even more for Jake to talk to him, since he still believes Jake Spoon might be his father. Jake has his own problems and shows little interest in Newt. Newt also realizes as he sits around the campfire that the men resent Jake for taking Lorena away from them. It also occurs to Newt that the only things these men do around the campfire are play cards, tell stories, and speculate about whores.

Deets, meanwhile, has a sense of foreboding about starting on such a long journey. He believes that they won’t arrive until fall. He watches Newt chop wood, hoping he won’t cut his own foot off while he dreams about the journey. Deets muses about the relationship he has with the boy who questions him about everything. However, Deets doesn’t tell him everything he knows, especially that “even when life seema easy, it keeps on getting harder.” He often feels sad and understands that many men in these parts simply blow their heads off, because they can’t take enough happiness from just the sky and the moon to carry them over the sad times.

Suddenly, Newt takes a bad swing and nearly hits Deets with a piece of mesquite. He’s embarrassed, because he had been thinking about what it would be like to spend an afternoon with Lorena. Deets never scolds him or looks accusingly at Newt. It’s almost as if Deets can read his mind. He just has to remind himself that Lorie is Jake’s women and keep his mind on the wood.

Notes

The bond between Newt and Deets is unusual in that an older black man would never have been thought of as being a mentor to a young white boy. But Deets seems to understand Newt almost more than he does himself. Deets is a deep thinker and has had to turn to the beauty of the sky and the moon to take the place of his lost happiness. He listens to Newt and tries to offer him answers to his many questions, but he is wise enough to allow time and experience teach Newt that life is always going to be hard.

This chapter also adds to what we already know about the kind of young man Newt has become. He’s kind and gentle and yet hard-working. He’s devoted to Captain Call, and he has no problem with the color of Deets’ skin. He’s eager to learn and wants to see the world from the perspective of other people as evidenced by his friendship with Sean. In spite of Deets’ realization about the difficulty of life, we come to the realization that Newt has great potential for happiness.

 

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