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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Later that afternoon, as the boys are sitting around the cook fire, they see Jake and Lorena ride into the camp. They are downright amazed to see Lorena wearing pants. Some of them are so scared by this totally unfamiliar sight that they donít even know where to put their eyes. Dish Boggett turns as white as a sheet and abruptly leaves to watch over the herd. Captain Call is in a silent fury that a woman is even going on the drive, let alone that sheís wearing pants. However, he is a real gentleman when Lorena rides up, tipping his hat and commenting that he has never met her. Gus recognizes that Lorena is riding a brown mare that belonged to Mary Pumphrey, and Lorena tells him that Jake bought the horse for her. Also, the pants had been Jakeís idea as well, as he had known a woman muleskinner who had worked the trail in pants much more efficiently than she could have done in a dress.

Meanwhile, Boliver, the cook, sits against the wagon wheel and ponders his dilemma: go on the trail with the Captain and the boys or stay near his wife and daughters who live just over the border in Mexico. He doesnít like to travel, but he likes even less the thought of living with a wife who is disappointed in him and tells him so every day. So he decides it will be easier to stay and put a few rattlesnakes in the pot than listen to his wife complain.

Gus comes over and asks Jake to tell him their plans. Jake says theyíre going to ride along with the herd for awhile, making their own camp each night. Then, theyíll set off for Denver, even though that will be a hard trip.

Gus then has an evening conversation with Call, telling him they have enough cattle and should get started. Call hasnít been able to resist crossing the border every few nights and stealing more cattle. Gus also tells Call that he canít have everything go conveniently. Jake will only be controlled up to a point, and he canít control a woman at all. Then, Call walks away from the firelight, meaning to have a few minutes to himself, but bumps into Newt. Newt is surprised and yet proud, when Call tells him heís decided to leave the next day. Newt has never been a part of the decisions the Captain has made and now he has actually shared one with the boy who idolizes him. When Newt asks him how far it is to ride north, Call is struck by the thought that they should have educated Newt more. It is a failing that he blames on Gus, but one he feels shouldnít have happened on his watch.


This chapter presents the thoughts of several of the characters as they prepare for this great undertaking. Lorenaís decision to wears pants is actually quite logical, but it isnít something with which the men are comfortable. Boliverís decision to go with them shows a side of the man that is not apparent through most of the book so far. He seems in the beginning an uneducated, ignorant Mexican peasant who accepts few obligations and is often surly and difficult to like. But here we see a man who feels badly that he has disappointed his wife and obviously loves his daughters very much. However, he decides to go with the other men, because he canít bear to see the wifeís disappointment every day. As for the Captain Call, Gus is right when he tells this man, who is always determined to tie up every loose end in his life, that he canít always have it his own way. It is also significant that when he makes his decision to leave the next day, he tells Newt first. Perhaps there is a great deal of love and respect for the boy that Captain Call never shows. This foreshadows his inability to tell Newt later that he is his son.



The next morning as Call and Gus are eating their breakfast in the faint morning light, it becomes apparent that Gus is feeling some regret and nostalgia for those things he hadnít particularly cared about, but which he hated to lose. While they are sitting there together, they see a man they both know well ride up: Soupy Jones. He had ridden with them when they were Rangers, and he is a fine horseman who seldom wants to even dismount. He asks to be hired on, because his wife has died. He is also curious about Jake who had been one of his good friends in times past. They tell Soupy that Jake is there, but he isnít camping with them, because he has a ďvaletĒ with him. Soupy remarks that if he knows Jake, the valet wears skirts. Of course, given that Lorena has taken to wearing pants, the comment strikes the other men all the wrong way.

Gus then goes to hitch the mules to the wagon while Call sees to the herd. Bolivar hasnít yet told them heís going along, and that worries Call who doesnít want to depend on Gus to do the cooking. Gus comes across the camp that Jake and Lorena have made and stops to talk. Lorie is attempting to cook and getting no help from Jake who is trying to dig a thorn out of his thumb. Jake is grumpy because of the thorn, the rocky ground they slept on, and the fact that Lorena is still refusing his sexual advances. Gus just silently observes the amusement to be found in the flow of human behavior: here is Jake, who had slipped from the grasp of every woman heíd ever known, firmly caught by a whore from Alabama. Furthermore, itís Lorie who has all the determination, not Jake. Gus is sure sheíll make it to San Francisco and probably become a respectable woman.

Then, Gus drives the wagon to the abandoned blacksmith shop where he gets a crowbar to pry the sign off the fence at the Hat Creek Cattle Company. He wants to take the Dutch ovens in which he cooked his biscuits, but they are crumbling to pieces. He notes that the ranch had the appearance of being the home of men who had lived there the whole time as if they might leave at any minute. Now thatís exactly what theyíre doing. And yet, he doesnít feel sad, because he feels lucky to be leaving Texas alive.

Then, Gus sees Xavier Wanz in a state of profound demoralization. He speaks gently to the man, because he knows that disappointment in love is much more difficult to accept at Xavierís age. He agrees that Lorena has made a poor bargain by going with Jake, but that doesnít make Xavier feel any less hopeless. He tells Gus to tell Lorena that if Jake gets killed, he will come for her.

Then, Gus leaves only to find Lippy sitting in the wagon. The piano player has decided to hire on with the company. Gus remembers that Lippy had been a fair horseman once and thinks that Call will hire him to guard the horses. Lippy cries as they leave Lonesome Dove, remembering the good years when there had been two saloons and many more people. He had enjoyed life then, and now he observes that itís funny leaving a place, because you never know if youíll come back.


Character analysis goes on in this chapter as we see a contrast between Jake and Xavier. Itís ironic that Lorie would choose Jake who will probably never follow through with his promise. Xavier offers her so much more, and yet she makes what Gus calls a bad bargain. However, she is the one who has all the determination and will no doubt be fine.

There is also a comparison between Gus and Lippy, both of whom have regrets about leaving Lonesome Dove. Gus is realistic about it, but also somewhat nostalgic as evidenced by his decision to take the sign with him. Lippy is unable to stay in town where there are now few people and only one saloon. He even cries when he thinks about the idea that he might never come back.

All these characters have left a little piece of themselves imprinted on the town of Lonesome Dove.

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