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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE CHAPTER NOTES


CHAPTER 49

Summary

This chapter is at first a flashback to how Blue Duck crept up on Lorena. She is frightened and regretful of not going to the cow camp with Gus. He makes her get on her horse and ties her ankles to the stirrups with rawhide string so she canít escape. He rides their horses right into the middle of the cattle stampede, and then they begin to make their escape. Blue Duck rides hard, stopping only long enough to take a drink and relieve himself. Lorie is so afraid of him that she refuses to do the same and regrets it later when he wonít stop for her. Eventually, they do stop to rest until itís dark and they can travel hard again. Blue Duck warns her that if she tries to escape, heíll cut a hole in her stomach, pull out a gut and wrap it around a tree limb. Then, she can watch when the coyotes come to eat her guts.

Blue Duck takes so little interest in her that she doesnít understand why he even stole her, until he mentions that Monkey John will like her yellow hair. Then, she knows heís going to sell her or give her to some other man. He also notes that Gus is coming for her even though she doesnít believe him.

The next day her mare plays out so Blue Duck makes her get up behind him on the big sorrel. She notices while riding behind him that heís wearing a necklace made up of human finger bones. He just grins and says that snapping the fingers off is the easiest way to get to the rings on them. The next day he ties her hand and foot and leaves for awhile. When he comes back, he has another horse, but no saddle and after that, the ride becomes even more hellish. What keeps her going is her growing anger and hatred. She feels if she ever gets a chance, sheíll kill him. Soon they come to a river where Lorena sees four riders watching them on the far bank. Blue Duck says itís Ermoke and three of his boys who seem to have been off scalping. Once theyíre across the river, the other men all crowd around her, touching her and pulling at her blonde hair. Lorena begins to wish there was some way she could just die. She expects to die but what she gets is the four men who use her for a long time. Then, Blue Duck makes them stop and move on while one of the Indians blows on an army bugle that he no doubt stole from a scalped soldier.

Notes

A womanís role as a plaything for men couldnít have been more emphasized than in this chapter. Lorena makes the mistake of waiting for Jake, a man who has left her alone in rough country while he gambles and drinks. Now she is the stolen property of a vicious Indian who takes her back to even more of his murdering gang just for their sexual needs. Lorie alternates between anger and wanting to die. Whatís more, there is the sense that her agony has only begun.



CHAPTER 50

Summary

July Johnson decides that because, in his view, all gamblers are lazy and arrogant, he should stop in Fort Worth first to find Jake Spoon. It would save him time and miles and help him get back to Elmira more quickly. He also wants to post a letter he has written to her there. When he arrives at the Fort Worth post office, the post master informs him that thereís a letter there for him. He hopes itís from Elmira, but it turns out to be from Peach who informs him that Elmira has run off, and she thinks sheís left on a whiskey boat. July just canít understand it, but Joe seems to know that his mother has left. That makes July even more confused that the boy would know what his mother has done, but he canít figure it out. Furthermore, Joe says that his mother has probably gone looking for Dee Boot, his father, but July thought the man was dead. So, now he knows that Elmira has lied to him and has probably lied to him about why she even married him. He decides that he has to find Roscoe and see if he knows anything more about Elmira.

Notes

This chapter offers a contrast to the plight of women by showing how women avoided being used by manipulating men stupid enough to fall in love with them. Elmira married July to get away from the buffalo hunters, but she has never loved him. He, on the other hand, has fallen deeply in love with her and feels great pain at her lies and her loss. He canít give up the thought of her and can only hope that Roscoe will give him more clues to where she has gone. Like Dish Boggett and Newt who are so deeply enamored of Lorena, July is a lost soul when it comes to the woman he loves.


CHAPTER 51

Summary

The next morning while July is making coffee, he hears the sound of cattle. It is a large herd, thousands in number, spread over the plain for three or four miles. He and Joe head for the wagon riding with the herd in order to ask about Roscoe. It turns out to be Wilbargerís herd, and they find him sitting on a tarp reading a book. They discuss who he has seen including any Texas Rangers. Wilbarger tells them how Call and Gus had re-stolen his remuda from Pedro Flores, and that if theyíre looking for Jake Spoon, theyíve overshot him. The Hat Creek Company wonít be in that area for a couple of weeks. Unfortunately, Wilbarger hasnít seen Roscoe. He also offers Joe a job with his herd, and once again, July is tempted to leave the boy. He even thinks for a minute about going north with Wilbarager to find Elmira instead of looking for Roscoe. However, in the end, he keeps Joe with him and continues on in his confused state back towards Arkansas.

Notes

This chapter expresses some ironies of the story. First, even meeting up with Wilbarger who has come to know the Hat Creek Company is ironic, because the very man July seeks - Jake Spoon - is likely with them. Second, Wilbarger is an unusual man for the time: he likes to read and he reads poetry and the classics. Finally, July is so confused about what he wants to do and what his duty is that heads east back towards Arkansas when they leave Wilbarger.

 

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