Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry|
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The Hat Creek Company camps west of Fort Worth, and Call allows the hands to go into the town. It will be a long time before they see a town again, and they need the time to carouse a little. He, however, is very worried about Gus who has been gone for three days. He canít believe that he might be dead, because heís gotten out of so many scrapes in the past. The young hands and Po Campo stay behind as well, and Po Campo tells them that Gus wonít catch Blue Duck. He says the Indian always has the biggest, fastest horse and thatís how he gets away every time. He even reveals that Blue Duck had killed his three sons when he rode south to kill his cheating wife. Call just worries that he allowed Gus to go off alone to do a job that was too big for him.
When the hands return from town drunk, Po Campo is ready for them and serves
them a sugary cobbler he made from dewberries. He says the sugar will
cut the effects of the alcohol. The hands say they saw Jake gambling,
and that he behaved abominably toward them, acting like he was too good
for them. Dish Boggett just gets on his horse and says that now the next
excitement will be the old Red River.
This chapter serves to express the worry all the men feel that Gus hasnít
returned. It emphasizes the importance he holds among the men, even though
he hadnít really wanted to come to Montana anyway. Itís also ironic that
Jake acts too good to really speak to men he had ridden with for so long.
Here he sits gambling and being arrogant while Lorie and Gus are in a
fight for their lives, a fight set in motion by Jakeís refusal to protect
The weather on the plains turns wet again, but the cattle are kept moving.
Finally, they come to the banks of the Red River. Theyíre all afraid from
stories theyíve heard about this river, but their fears prove to be unfounded.
Old Dog, the lead steer, leads the cattle right across, and the sun comes
out just as the last one is pulled from the mud. It prompts Po Campo to
begin to sing, but the men finally ask him why he only sings about death.
He says he sings about life, and life is sad. He says the songs donít
belong to him, anyway; they belong to the ones who hear them. Call continues
to camp by himself away from the hands, but one night he is startled to
hear the sound of his own voice talking to Gus and telling him he should
have killed Blue Duck when he had the chance. Heís never been one to talk
to himself, but his worry over his longtime partner makes him voice his
thoughts out loud.
Po Campoís sad songs about life and death echo all the tragedies they have faced on this long journey and also echo Callís fears for Gus and Lorie. The relatively safe crossing of the river is in opposition to these ideas and emphasizes that what the men had feared for so long, ironically, never came to past while the realities of life and death that they had never even really considered had occurred.
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. 09 May 2017