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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE FREE BOOKNOTES SUMMARY

CHAPTER 20

Summary

Jake returns to the Dry Bean and meets up again with Lorena. She can see he is in a sulk, and he doesn’t treat her as gently as he has before. She worries about him finding out she slept with Gus, and then finally decides just to tell him. He tells her he figured that’s what happened, but he gives her a smart slap on the cheek anyway. She’s not particularly upset with his reaction, because other men she’s known have slapped her around much harder. She tells him she won’t loan him any of the money Gus gave her, because she knows giving a man her money can make him her master. She also tells him that she plans to leave when he leaves. Jake thinks to himself that life just keeps getting harder and less simple. Lorena isn’t the type to be fooled like other women, so he tells her he won’t run off without her. In fact, he says they will ride with the rest of the hands during the day, but make their own camp at night. He realizes that he will probably never get through to her, because there is always a distance she keeps between them. She will not leave him, but she will never be wholly his.

Notes

This chapter serves to elaborate on the relationship between Jake and Lorena. She is not just any woman. She is independent and determined to hold him to his promise. He needs her more than she needs him, but she has a hold on him that he can’t quite accept, even as he decides to uphold his promise. She won’t be easy, but he can’t leave her behind.



CHAPTER 21

Summary

On the day the Hat Creek Cattle Company is set to ride north, Jake awakens in Lorie’s room to the sight of her sitting on the foot of the bed and looking out the window at the sunrise. He is drowsy, but soon remembers the importance of the day and awakens immediately. It occurs to him that staying in the luxury of the bed makes more sense, but he has never been able to disappoint a woman, especially one as unique as Lorena.

Lorena gives him money to buy her a horse, and Jake finds it amusing to think that the money Gus paid her for sex will now be used to buy both of them good horses. Lorena is unperturbed by his observations and just looks out the window as if she’s already left Lonesome Dove.

After Jake leaves, there’s a knock at Lorena’s door and when she opens it, there stands Xavier, the saloon owner. He’s in tears, because she is leaving. He asks her to marry him, saying that Jake is not true and will leave her somewhere rather than take her to San Francisco. He insists that he will be much nicer to her than Jake and will buy her anything she wants. He tells her they could go to Galveston and take a boat to San Francisco and this makes Lorena suspicious of Jake, since he had never told her they could get there by boat. Xavier begins pulling money out of his pocket and Lorena thinks to herself that life is a never-ending cycle: some man will always think he can have her if he just has the right amount of money. However, she insists that she’s going with Jake no matter how much money Xavier has. Finally, Xavier asks to sleep with her one last time. He lays the huge amount of money on the dresser, and Lorena gives in one last time. When he leaves, she notes that he has the same look in his eyes that her father had when died years before. After Xavier leaves, Lorena hides all the money he gave her. To her, it is just one more secret she has from Jake.

Notes

This chapter is a significant commentary on the position of women in western American society after the Civil War. Lorena is an object to them all, easily bought for the right amount of money. Some think they are in love with her, but in reality, it’s all about infatuation and physical attraction. None of them really know her, and none really care to know her. She is a contrast to the hard work and drabness of their lives and losing her is all about losing the only thing worth looking forward to. They lie when it suits them and leave her when she’s no longer interesting. Some men have even beaten her when they felt like asserting their power. So she keeps secrets and whenever possible uses them to her own advantage. This is how she survives as one of the few attractive women among all the men of Lonesome Dove.

 

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