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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Elmira, Zwey, and Luke are continuing their journey north to Ogallala. As she drives the wagon, it occurs to Lorena that perhaps nothing was worth the adverse effects she must endure. The weather is difficult and itís becoming apparent that Luke is going to be more of a problem than Zwey. One time, Luke even cuffs her good when she wonít give in to him, pay or no pay, and another time, he tries to force her on top of the buffalo hides when Zwey is gone. Her kicking and screaming spooks the mules and the wagon takes off. This saves her for the moment, but she knows heíll keep trying, so she tells Zwey what happened. Zwey decides to kill Luke for it when just at that moment, a shot rings out. The bullet enters the wild turkey Zwey had already killed, and Elmira must explain to his slow mind that Luke isnít trying to kill the turkey. Heís trying to kill Zwey. He sleeps that night under the wagon with his pistol cocked in case Luke returns. Two days later, the smaller man does return acting as if nothing had happened.

The morning after they kill more buffalo, Elmira awakens with Luke atop her rubbing his bloody hands all over her. She does everything she can to get away from him, but it takes Zwey grabbing the man to save her this time. Her smashes Lukeís head two or three times against the wagon rim until he drops unconscious. Luke develops a fever resulting from infection from his wounds, and even though he recovers, he is too weak to force himself on her. Elmira wonders why he would punish himself so much just because he wants sex with her. He just tells Elmira that heíll kill Zwey someday. He also tells her he wasnít the one who had shot the turkey, and Elmira then grows afraid of the nights and whoever might be out there.


This chapter reinforces the tenuous relationship between men and women of the old west. Elmira is desired by both Zwey and Luke, but in different fashions. Zwey seems almost to worship her and never tries anything with her. Luke is obsessed to have her body and will even hurt her to get it. They both claim ownership of her, neither ever realizing that she is entitled to be owned only by herself. On the other hand, Elmira herself is so obsessed with Dee Boot that she places herself in a dangerous position by accepting the company of these two men who have questionable reasons to be with her. As for Dee Boot, he is just like Jake in that he forms relationships where he is a user who leaves behind women who have fallen in love with him or feel some attachment to him which he wonít acknowledge. In all these cases, we see how the hold on life is so fragile and how people make stupid decisions that could cost them their lives.



The men of the Hat Creek Company have become more and more concerned about the possibility of Indians, especially Newt. Po Campo, however, is more worried about drought. That filters down to the men who look upon him almost as an oracle, because so many of his predictions have come true. He reads Gusí future in the manís spit and tells him he will have no more wives, because the sky is his wife.

Later, a group of Indians does show up, but they are poor and starved-looking, and Call allows them to take a steer with a split hoof which would have to be put down sooner or later. The old leader of the group raises his hand in respect to Captain Call as he rides away, and the event is the subject of much conversation later. When Gus points out that Call must be getting mellow in his old age, Call reminds him of an Indian named Old Bacon Rind who had fed them buffalo once. Now Call feels itís only fair to return the favor.

Gus continues to minister to Lorie who tends to sleep most of the day as she heals. She no longer trembles as much unless she thinks of coming to a town. As for Gus, he observes that an accidental shot during a card game in Arkansas had started all these things happening. It had ended up killing more than the dentist - it also killed Sean OíBrien, Bill Spettle and the three people traveling with July Johnson. So many lives lost so far and Montana nowhere in sight. He thinks Jake should have taken his hanging there. He knows that Jake canít really be blamed for any of their troubles except for Lorenaís, and to Gus, he deserves hanging for that alone. As for Lorie, she begins to worry that Gus may not want to stay with her after awhile, because heís made no effort to show his sexual desire for her. When she voices her fear, he calms her by telling her that she needs to stay away from such doings for awhile.

Then comes the grasshopper cloud. Gus and Lorena take shelter in the tent, but the hands are caught out in the middle of it. Call tells them that they have to just live through it. Newt is nearly thrown by Mouse, but manages to hang on and run through it. It lasts for hours, but finally the sky clears. When Newt looks around, he realizes heís alone with fifty or sixty cattle and coming toward him is a group of Indians. They seem to want his cattle, but Newt keeps saying no even though one of the Indians points west and jabbers in a language Newt canít understand. They whoop at the cattle and get them started west over his protest, and when they finally stop, there is the main herd with the rest of the hands. The Indians had meant him no harm and were, in fact, trying to help him. They even tell Captain Call that they must go west rather than north or water would be sixty miles away, a distance the cattle will never be able to make.


This chapter shows the Indians in a different light than the example set by Blue Duck. They are often starving and poor and are only seeking the same help they may give to the whites. Call remembers such a time when Old Bacon Rind gave him a buffalo, and now Newt sees how a small group is not there to kill him or steal his cattle, but rather wants to point him in the right direction. Itís a lesson against stereotyping no matter what race or culture with which we may associate.


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