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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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The viewpoint of the story switches to Jake who has been spending most of his days in a place called Billís Saloon on the Trinity River Bluffs. Cattlemen who drifted through there, when they found out Jake had been to Montana, try to hire him. But he only laughs, because the week after he left Callís outfit had been a great week for him - he couldnít draw a bad card. He also has access to a hard drinking whore named Sally Skull. He sits with her on her porch and watches the wagons move up and down the streets of Fort Worth even though he pays $10 a day for the bed and her privileges. As for Lorena, he loses interest in any other whore when he thinks of her. He remembers her with both a pang of guilt and anger and decides that whatever is happening to her is her own fault. He even froze out the men from the Hat Creek Company when they drifted in, blaming them for Lorenaís loss to him. Sally, who also takes what she calls her ďpowders,Ē questions him as to why heíd allow Blue Duck to take his woman. Jake just opines that the Indian was tricky and how did he know that Lorena hadnít already shot the man.

Later, Sally is taken to jail for shooting a young foreman in the shoulder for being mouthy with her. While there, she bribes one of the deputies to get her the powders. When he brings them in to her, she tries to grab his gun and in the ensuing scuffle, they shoot each other fatally. There is a strong reaction from the town directed toward whores and gamblers, so Jake decides itís prudent to leave town. He finds $600 in Sallyís hatbox and steals it on his way to Dallas. While he is there, contemplating his next move, a soldier in a card game with Jake reveals that he had met a deputy sheriff from Arkansas who was looking for the man who killed his brother. This information makes Jake very nervous, and he knows he needs to leave Texas. Thatís when he meets the Suggs Brothers. The oldest, Dan, observes that Jake used to ride as a Ranger with Woodrow Call and Gus McCrae. Jakeís a little irked that their reputation would be mentioned, but not his. Dan Suggs offers him a job as a regulator - someone who will control the trail driving business by charging a toll for a herd to cross a river or take a certain road. Jake tells them theyíre too inexperienced, and men like Call and Gus would never pay a toll. Nevertheless, because of his fears of July Johnson, three days later, Jake finds himself riding toward Kansas with the three Suggs brothers and a tall black man they call Frog Lip. He has a strong feeling that soon the guns these men carry will pointed toward something other than deer, and he intends not to be around when it happens.


This chapter really reinforces the careless side of Jakeís character. He knows that leaving Lorena the way he did is wrong, but he finds a way to deny his bad decision by blaming her or the members of Callís company for her kidnapping. He also associates with questionable characters like Sally Skull and then the Suggs Brothers rather than finding the courage to do the right thing. The more the reader comes in contact with Jake the more obvious it is that he is heading for a fall.



July Johnson is continuing to work his way north in a country that seems devoid of any life, human or animal. The emptiness of the countryside begins to disturb him almost as much as the three bodies he left buried by the Canadian River. He thinks that his whole life is completely futile and that returning to the normalcy of Fort Smith is as remote as anything he can imagine. When his horse goes lame, July is forced to shoot him and so loses the last companion he has in life. Now he begins to walk, carrying only half a canteen of water and coming across no creeks. That first night after his horseís death, he thinks about killing himself and laughs at the irony - the only person he would be credited for killing would be himself. He berates himself for his wrong choices, but he feels like he just has to find Elmira.

The next day, July gets up and starts to walk again. He finds a spring which is only a trickle, but enough fill his canteen. He also shoots a badger to give himself some food. On the third day walking, he sees a small cattle herd and persuades the old man leading them to sell him a horse. Four days later, he trots into Dodge City.


This chapter is again character revealing, this time of the character of July Johnson. In a sense, itís easy to a see why Elmira might have found herself irked by July. He is indecisive most of the time or becomes fixated on one thought which he canít give up, like finding Elmira. He also makes unwise decisions when he makes them at all and then must face the consequences of his actions. The irony is that, most of the time, the consequences are more serious for the people around him than for him.


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