Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry|
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In this chapter, we meet the hard-bitten evil men with whom Blue Duck associates. First, there is Monkey John, who is
less than five feet tall and older than the others in his group. He is mean, and he often beats Lorena just because she wonít
talk. Second is Dog Face, who along with Monkey John, has half ownership of Lorena with the Kiowa. He is somewhat
better than his partner, because he tries as much as he can to protect Lorena, but thereís nothing he can do when the
Kiowa use and abuse her. As for Lorena, although she had never been a woman who talked much, because of her
mistreatment, she walls herself up behind silence. Fear has taken the place of words.
One night, Blue Duck rides in with whiskey for them all, and once they are
drunk, he takes out his dice and forces the men to play. In the process
of the game, he wins their horses and their weapons as well as complete
ownership of Lorena. He has no intention of using her as the other Indians
have. Instead, he promises the men he will give everything back, including
her, if they will go find Gus and kill him. He warns them that if Gus
lives, he will kill them. Lorena can barely hope that Gus is coming. She
feels like he doesnít have a chance against all these men and just believes
that she will never get out.
Introduction of these characters serves to emphasize the horrible treatment
Lorena is enduring. It also presents us with what seems an impossible
task on Gusí part. Getting Lorena out under these circumstances doesnít
seem likely to happen. That then creates suspense about the coming battle
between Gus and these men. Itís interesting to also note whether or not
Blue Duck has underestimated Gus or whether heís overestimated his gang.
The chapter opens with Gus riding east and feeling put out at himself for guessing wrong about Blue Duckís destination.
He has a bad feeling in his heart about Lorie. She could be dead, and at the very least, she might be ruined. He had known
many captives before that died soon after they were rescued and felt they were allowed to die. It is during these thoughts
that the Indians tracking him suddenly break for him. He rides as hard as he can, but his horse is tired out from the journey
east and soon the Indians are gaining on him.
The only thing he can do is throw himself in a wallow, kill his horse to allow the smell of blood to spook the Indiansí
horses, and use the carcass as protection against their bullets. This decision works, and in the process of the battle, he kills
six Indians. He forces them into retreat and has a few moments to reminisce about the fighting styles of his old comrades:
Call was a great attacker; Pea Eye was mostly concerned with not running out of bullets and would not take chances with
his shots; Deets would never fire on a fleeing man; but Call would pursue one fifty miles or more.
The retreating Indians set up well beyond rifle range, but they donít leave. Instead, a white man, who turns out to be Dog
Face, arrives with a fifty-caliber buffalo gun, a very inconvenient development. All Gus can do is dig deeper with his
knife into the wallow to get down even lower behind the dead horse. The Indians keep him pinned down until dark, but as
soon as it is too dark to shoot, Gus picks up his saddle as a kind of shield and begins walking west. He stops at each
corpse of the Indians he killed to take their ammunition, and then he hears more shooting begin where the Indians have
retreated. He has no idea what has happened, so he keeps walking.
Soon he hears the voices of white men and announces himself as a friend. When
he walks into their camp, he meets July Johnson, Roscoe Brown, Joe Boot,
and Janey. He knows the name July Johnson and realizes what an irony it
is that the very man Jake Spoon had feared enough to suggest they make
a trip to Montana is now there to meet Gus. He had been the one who had
fired on the Indians and the buffalo gun, putting them on the run. Itís
soon decided that Gus will borrow one of their horses to go after Lorena,
but July decides he should go, too, because itís possible that Elmira
could also be held captive. Gus canít talk him out of it and fears to
leave the inexperienced deputy behind with Joe and Janey. He also finds
it interesting that they are two men chasing women across the plains.
This chapter really emphasizes the fighting skills of Augustus McCrae. Against
almost impossible odds, he holds out against the Indians, killing six
and escaping even a fifty caliber buffalo gun. However, heís not above
making his own mistakes, like guessing wrong as a tracker and allowing
July Johnson to leave his friends behind unprotected. Itís foreshadowing
of a tragedy yet to come.
In the Indian camp, Dog Face is dying. One of Julyís bullets has hit his rib and turned downward into his gut. No one tries
at all to help him. Instead, Monkey John and the other Indians are worried and just keep cocking and uncocking their
pistols. Blue Duck recognizes that he has underestimated Gus and is leaving. He gives Lorena to the Kiowa, because he
wants them to carve her up. He also leaves the Kiowa some whiskey and some commands in their own language. Dog
Face begs Monkey John to help Lorena, but he refuses. Then, the Kiowa castrate Dog Face and scalp him. After all of that
terrible evil, the man is still alive, and all Lorena can do is get to her knees and vomit.
Suddenly into the camp come Gus and July riding their horses right into Monkey
John and the Indians. Gus actually is the only one to kill anyone as July
is totally ineffective except as a diversion. Gus even goes after and
kills the one Indian that got away. He orders July to go back to his people
as he canít leave Lorie, and he knows Blue Duck is out there somewhere.
As July rides over the ridge, he hears a gunshot and knows that Gus has
even put Dog Face out of his misery.
This chapter reinforces the viciousness of life on the plains among the worst
of the Indians. They have no compunction about torturing Dog Face even
though he is already dying. Their deaths, then, at the hands of Gus McCrae
seem ordained as he represents good defeating evil. Itís ironic the July
insisted on coming along with Gus, because he is of absolutely no help.
And now, Blue Duck is loose along the river near Julyís friends, who are
alone and unprotected.
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