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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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Before the group even gets out of Texas, Jake has cause to regret even hooking up with them. They talk more about July Johnson and the two criminals he hauled into Fort Worth. The Suggs boys think about breaking them out, and their talk is mostly about killing. He begins to drink liberally, because he is worried that he canít get himself out of this situation now. He knows they donít trust him and so resolves to find a way to escape them once they get to Kansas.

When a wagonload of people stop at the same small store they are visiting, Jake is attracted to a young woman named Lou. When he strikes up a conversation with the girl, her husband, who is an angry old man, smashes him with the end of his rifle. When the old man tries to strike a second time, Jake shoots him. When their people begin to spill out of the store, Jake mounts up to leave even though he is reluctant to enter the Territory with two deaths against his name. In neither case is he really to blame, but the law never understands that. So, he rides off with the Suggs Brothers and a final smile from Lou. That confuses him as well. Jake then falls into a gloom, feeling like he can do nothing right. Somehow he has slipped out of the respectable life. As they ride through the Territory, Jake keeps his eye out for herds with hope of escaping the Suggs. The brothers indicate they are looking for nesters with more than a cow and a pile of buffalo chips. These are people who have built sod houses on the prairie in order to farm. They come across a family and decide to rob them. Unfortunately, all the family has is two $2 gold pieces. They take the money, much frustrated, and Jake is glad to see that it looks like nothing else is going to come of it. But Frog Lip drives their two cows on top of the sod roof and their weight breaks the roof in with no damage to the cows. He had done it just because he didnít get to shoot any one.


Jakeís fears of the Suggs Brothers and Frog Lip are well-founded. They are very dangerous men, and he counts himself lucky that they didnít shoot the farmer and his family. However, this foreshadows that nothing good will come of Jakeís association with this gang. This is also reinforced by his continue dwelling upon the idea that he just keeps making stupid decisions, the most recent being the shooting of the old man. The old manís wife, the young girl named Lou, merely smiles after Jake kills the man. It makes us feel that his death is a relief to her. So Jakeís second ďaccidentalĒ killing is somewhat mitigated by these circumstances.



When July arrives in Dodge City, the first thing he does is buy a better horse. He decides to write a letter to Peach, his sister-in-law, about Roscoe and Joe, and he also decides to look through Dodge for Elmira. He has completely lost interest in capturing Jake Spoon. To his embarrassment, when he asks for paper and pencil from the postal clerk, he begins to cry, but the clerk is kindly about it and asks if someone has died. July is then able to write the letter and even asks the clerk if he has seen Elmira or Dee Boot or if a letter has been left for him. The clerk tells him there is nothing for him, but tells him that Dee Boot is in Ogallala and sends him to the saloon to meet Jennie, the town whore, who knows more about Dee than he does. Jennie had known Elmira when they both were whores in Dodge. She tells July that Elmira is no doubt hunting Dee Boot, and then, because she always liked to steal Elmiraís men in the past, she offers July a little fun. Unfortunately, July is so drunk that he can only lean over the railing of her porch and vomit most of the night. The next day, he sees Jennie do intimate things that he has never before seen a woman do. It makes him realize that heís no better than the cowboys who drive the herds - heís fallen in love with a whore. Jennie sees such pain in his eyes that she feels bad, while July just thinks how terribly lonely he feels. She advises him to just go back home, because even if he finds Elmira, it wonít make her agree to come back with him. However, he saddles his horse and leaves Dodge City in the middle of the night. As he leaves, he has the feeling that he has somehow missed a great opportunity.


Itís obvious that July is an emotional wreck. He canít keep from crying when he writes the letter about the deaths of Roscoe and Joe, and he canít keep himself from looking for Elmira. He has sunk way down in his depression, but has sense enough to realize that he has missed a golden opportunity to salvage his life if he would just follow Jennieís advice. There is one major irony in this chapter - July has completely lost interest in Jake, but Jake has taken up with a dangerous group of men from he canít extricate himself, because he fears July Johnson.


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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on Lonesome Dove". . 09 May 2017