Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry|
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ONLINE NOTES FOR LONESOME DOVE BY LARRY MCMURTRY
The author’s emphasis on the lives of women and the hardships of living in
the west continue in this chapter. In the case of Janey, we see a young
girl who became the slave of men who had no concern for what was best
for her. They used and abused her, and she would probably have died eventually
if Roscoe had not come along. Roscoe is totally out of his element when
he hits the trail, having no idea how to find his way. In this sense,
Janey rescues him as much as he rescues her. They both face the elements
and the lawlessness of the west as they continue on their way.
The viewpoint returns to the cattle drive where the herd has finally left San Antonio behind and has entered land with more grass. Newt has finally gotten the Rainey boys to open up and talk, and he rides along with them discussing whether they’ll see any Indians. Food is a hit and miss situation now that Bolivar has left them, but Call has been unable to find a cook even though he has asked at several settlements. He decides to try Austin, and he and Gus ride off on that mission. On the way to Austin, Gus suddenly swings his horse north instead of west and when Call follows, he finds him by a little spring-fed creek, just sitting there and looking. It turns out that he called this spot Clara’s Orchard and was a place where he and Clara had come on their buggy rides. He reminisces how he’d asked her to marry him there, but she’d refused. She feared he’d try to make her do something she didn’t want. That’s why he’s still confused as to why she surrendered her precious freedom to the horse trader from Kentucky. Nonetheless, this spot reminds him of the time when he was the happiest.
When they turn once more toward Austin, Gus, with his amazing eyesight, sees Lorie in the camp she and Jake had made, and Gus supposes that Jake has left her to go and gamble. Gus suggests that they hire Lorie to cook, but Call refuses, because he thinks she’ll be too much of a distraction to the hands. This, of course, gives Gus reason to bring up Call’s relationship with Maggie and the fact that Newt has to be Call’s son. Anyone with an eye, he says, can see they’re related. Call, however, refuses to discuss it, and soon they come to Lorie and Jakes’ camp. She has just bathed in the creek and is drying her hair. Jake has been gone for two days, which angers Call. He finds it unconscionable that a man would leave any woman alone in such rough country. Gus decides to stay and play cards with Lorie and sends Call on into Austin.
As he rides away, Call vents to himself over how annoyed he is at Jake and
Gus. He wants Gus to return to the herd that night if he’s late, but Gus
won’t commit. Call hates that he won’t exert the leadership he needs to
exert for men who are basically inexperienced. While he works this all
over in his mind, the filly he loves suddenly bucks him off. He just manages
to hold onto one of the reins or she might have run away. He is not angry,
however, at her, because he recognizes her intelligence. She was alert
enough to see his preoccupation with his anger and took the opportunity
to try to get away. He knows she will try again, too, so he decides to
find some braided horsehair reins to make sure she can’t snap one the
next time. He tells her, “I aim to ride you across the Yellowstone, and
if I don’t, it’ll be because one of us gets killed first.”
This chapter expresses the idea once more of the lives of women. Clara Allen, Gus’ old love, wouldn’t marry him, because she feared he’d hobble her independence. Then, she marries with no good reason a Kentucky horse trader. Gus is bewildered by her decision, but he has never forgotten her. The truth is not yet apparent to him, because he doesn’t think like a woman of the times. Clara may have decided that life with the man she loves would be filled with too many hardships. Or perhaps she realized that his being a Ranger meant the possibility of an early death, a situation she might not have wanted to face. And the horse trader, being wealthy, may have offered her the security that Gus could not. Men would never understand the plight of women of this time, because they were not subject to the whims of the opposite sex for their very survival. The Hell Bitch, Call’s filly, is symbolic of a female under the control of the male. In many ways, she is smarter than he is and nearly gets herself free. However, in the end, she too is dependent on the man who cares for her just to survive. If it weren’t Call, it would just be some other male.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Lonesome Dove".
. 09 May 2017