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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Another freak accident occurs just after they pass San Antonio. Just after the herd crosses a little creek, the hands look up to see the wagon racing unchecked like Comanche were after it. It results in a terrible wreck, and Lippy nearly drowns, because he couldn’t jump off. His jacket had become caught on the wagon seat. Lippy looks dead when they pull him from the creek, making Newt once again sick to his stomach. Lippy had been a part of his life since he could remember, and now he thinks he is once again going to bury a friend. Fortunately, Lippy soon comes to, rolls over, and belches up a lot of water from the creek.

It turns out that Bolivar had fallen asleep on the wagon seat with his rifle in his arms. He had accidentally fired off the rifle as he was dreaming of his wife and his daughters, and then was thrown from the wagon. Perhaps out of desire for his family or his country or perhaps because he is embarrassed that he has allowed the wagon to be wrecked, Bolivar hands in his resignation and rides south. Neither Call nor Gus is surprised, because Bolivar is still Mexican and not American. But Newt is especially sad and worries that they will lose everyone before they even get to Montana.


The accidents continue to haunt the cowboys, which further emphasizes the thin line between life and death in the American west.



Gus comments, to open this chapter, that if they weren’t doomed before they are now: they’ll probably poison themselves without a regular cook. Call is depressed, because he hates to lose even one man when he forms a unit. So Gus and Call travel back to San Antonio to buy a new wagon and hire a cook.

When they arrive, they are able to buy a new wagon almost immediately as well as two mules to pull the wagon back to the herd. Then, the two men decide to go to a big saloon they remember from their Ranger days, a saloon owned by a man named Willie Montgomery. However, when they get inside, they see no sign no sign of Willie or anyone they know. The bartender is a young, insolent man who treats them with disrespect because they’re dusty with sand. He finally gets around to pouring them some whiskey, but is so discourteous that Gus slams his face against the bar and breaks his nose. He points out a picture of him, Call, and Jake hanging behind the bar and insists that they deserve better service. He even throws a shot glass into the air and shoots it down with one shot. A man named Ned Tym, who remembers them well, points out that the Texas Rangers are back in town.

This behavior nearly gets them both into trouble with the new owner of the saloon (Willie Montgomery having sold it and run off with a woman), but when the sheriff walks in to check on the trouble, he turns out to be Tobe Walker. He was once a Ranger, too, and had ridden with Call and Gus. They sit and chat for awhile, and Gus and Call learn that Tobe is married and spends his days collaring drunks. When Gus and Call leave, they pass the old Alamo which is now neglected, the famous battle all but forgotten. Gus observes that their heroics may soon be forgotten, too, but traveling with the herd is better than ending up like Tobe.


This chapter emphasizes the importance these two men hold in settling the land and defeating the Indians. Yet no one respects that they did and they are just like the Alamo: forgotten relics whose heroic deeds are just a picture on the wall and memory in their heads. Nonetheless, they feel glad to be living the way they are instead of the sameness of the life Tobe leads.


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