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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Lorena is happy that Gus decides to stay with her, because the two days without Jake have been wearisome. She feels he will return, but he’ll be slow about it, because he has taken up a grudge against her. But she’s not sure that his return even matters. She feels that she’ll always be mistaken about men and make the wrong decisions where they’re concerned. She wonders if she should have married Xavier and allowed him to take her to San Francisco. She even debates drowning herself in the creek and wonders if she’s touched. Perhaps after so many mistakes one’s mind finally breaks loose. Gus analyzes the situation immediately, explaining that Jake had made her hope again. She’s like a starving person whose stomach is shrunk up from lack of use. She’s shrunk up from hopelessness.

Gus then takes a bath himself in the creek, and while he’s drying on a rock, he looks into the distance and sees something that causes him to ask Lorie to get him his gun. He sees an Indian coming on a pacing horse which isn’t a good sign. He can tell by the way the rider moves that he‘s an Indian. A few minutes later, a big man riding a bay stallion comes into the camp. He explains in an insolent manner that he just wants water, but he looks their horses over. He says his name is Blue Duck after Gus introduces himself. He asks where Call is and comments that it’s too bad he’s not there, because he’s been told that it’s best to kill both of these Rangers rather than just one. He tells Gus that if he comes north of the Canadian, he’ll kill him. With that, he just rides off.

Lorena wishes that Gus would have just shot the man, because she feels he’s a killer. For that reason, too, Gus tells Lorie she needs to pack up and stay in the main camp for a night or two. He also explains that Blue Duck is a Comanchero who rides with a bunch of murderers and child-stealers. The Rangers had never been able to catch him, because he was better at doing without water than they were. He could then disappear into the desert and be safe. Lorie feels like Blue Duck wasn’t interested in her, but Gus knows that he took her in long before he came to the camp. Nonetheless, she decides to wait for Jake, because she promised him she would. Besides, she hates how the other hands all stare at her when she’s in the cow camp. Gus doubts that Jake can protect her if Blue Duck comes back and that makes Lorie sad that not even his friends respect Jake. She asks Gus if he’ll take her to San Francisco, but Gus says he’s bound for Ogallala and Clara Allen. She feels the old discouragement take over again, and she begins to cry. Gus takes her in his arms and promises that if they make it to Denver, he’ll buy a train ticket for her to go to San Francisco. In the end, she still refuses to go to the cow camp, so Gus promises to send a hand back to guard her and decides to send Deets to track Blue Duck. He leaves her alone, a decision he’ll soon come to regret.


This chapter introduces a character who will be the ultimate representative of the devil - Blue Duck. He brings in the mood of danger, because he’s so sinister. Gus has a past intertwined with this murderer, and the fact that he leaves Lorie alone foreshadows terrible events yet to come. As for Lorie, she’s once again in a position where her life depends on the whims and the decisions of the men around her. When she tries to assert her independence by staying and waiting for Jake, it only puts her in danger.



When Gus returns to the camp, he assigns Newt to go back and guard Lorie, which annoys Dish Boggett enough that he questions Gus’ decision. Gus explains that he didn’t want a gunfight when Jake returned to find Dish with his woman. Call arrives during this discussion and explains that the new cook will be along the next day. Gus tells Call about Blue Duck and that Newt is going to keep an eye on Lorie. Gus explains that he didn’t kill him, because he didn’t know who he was at first, and once he did know, it was too late to get a jump on the man. He says that he thinks Blue Duck is just after the horses, and he has sent Deets to track him and keep him away from their horses. Pea Eye is also worried when he hears this story, because he thinks this big Indian is the one that has tormented his dreams in the last few nights.

Call re-saddles the Hell Bitch and rides around the herd to check that all is right. Soon, Deets rides up and Call notes that more and more, he is the only competent, trustworthy hand in his outfit. Deets explains that he lost Blue Duck, and he worries that the Indian will try to take their horses. However, it’s a full moon, so they’ll have better sight of him if he tries. Call gets his rifle out of the scabbard and begins to clean it, hoping the act of doing so will make his thoughts tame down a bit. But it doesn’t work. He finds himself thinking of Maggie, Newt’s mother, and how she had come to depend on him. Something about her had drawn him back to her for over two months, and he is still amazed that a woman had had such a hold on him. He had finally made himself stop going to her, and he eventually came to realize that he had lost the chance to right himself, and that he would never again be able to feel that he was the man he wanted to be. He wanted for none of it to have ever happened, especially the boy, Newt, whom he couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge as his son. However, he has never been able to forget the look in her eyes when she asked him to call her by her name, to acknowledge her as a human being. The fact that Gus cried over a woman who’s been gone for sixteen years does make him feel somewhat better. There are other men who have made mistakes over women and have regrets for not living up to their responsibilities.


In this chapter, Call and Gus make a major mistake by not forcing Lorie back into the camp. This decision reinforces the casual way men of the west regard the women in their lives. They are important to them, but they seem to lack some sort of humanity for the men who care for them. Women are necessary as wives and mothers, but they have no individuality in many cases. This was true for Gus who lost Clara, because he didn’t care enough to change his life for her, and Call, who was seduced by Maggie’s need, but was unable to fulfill it. Women are expendable in the lives of these men and in a world filled with hardships, they are often the first to die.


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