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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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For two weeks after the grasshopper cloud, the Hat Creek Company enjoys blue skies, good grass, and the best conditions of the entire trip. Unfortunately, itís not without at least one tragedy - Newt loses his favorite horse, Mouse, in a freak accident. The horse is accidentally speared by the horn of a mother cow trying to protect her calf. Call says that Newt has to put the horse down, because thereís nothing else to be done, but Dish Boggett steps in and proclaims that a man shouldnít have to put down his own horse when there are others who can do it. He then leads the horse away and shoots him for Newt. Once again, all Newt wants to do is be in the dark to mourn for a horse that had been with him for eight years. Gus brings him up to the tent to drink some coffee to ďcut the grief.Ē He feels better when Lorena comes out of the tent and smiles at him. She even laughs at something Gus says - a delightful sound to Newt. She is beginning to hope that this trip lasts forever, because it will keep Gus close to her. She even thinks she will tell him that he can marry her at the next town. She means to do everything she can to keep him from the other woman.

Meanwhile, Call and Deets go out to scout the Arkansas River together. While they are looking it over, Deets asks Call if theyíll ever get back to Lonesome Dove. He tells his right hand man that he doubts heíll ever return, and he secretly hopes Deets doesnít want to go back either. Call is also in a mind to go after Blue Duck, because pursuit is what he does best, but he knows that would be folly now. Deets tells him that he thinks Jake is around somewhere, because he has discovered the tracks of his pacing horse. Call wants no more to do with Jake Spoon, because he figures heíll use them for support if itís to his advantage or he gets into trouble.


It seems as if tragedy continues to stalk Newt. He has lost two friends, feared that Gus was dead at one point, and now has lost his favorite horse. Once again, Gus, ever the realist, offers the boy coffee, a common everyday drink, to cut his grief. Thereís no time in this kind of life to spend much time grieving.

Itís ironic that Call predicts that Jake would use the Hat Creek Company if he ever got in trouble, because thatís exactly what he will try to do later. Only, this time, his former friends will not provide him the support he desperately needs. Also, Deetsí recognition of Callís desire to go after Blue Duck reinforces what Gus has said all along - the Captain isnít cut out to be a rancher; heís a pursuer of adventure.



Jake and the Suggs gang are approaching Dodge City where Jake can hardly wait to get a bath, a shave, and a whore. It reinforces his feeling that he has always been meant for riches and beautiful women, and it cheers him to think about it as does the thought that he can finally get away from the Suggses. Unfortunately, that afternoon, Dan Suggs sees something he likes: a herd of twenty-five horses being driven by three men. He recognizes him as old Wilbarger, and he had once ridden for him. He decides to steal the horses. He asks Jake if heís coming, and the insolence in his voice makes Jake decide to follow along, another unwise decision.

The youngest Suggs brother tells Jake that Dan doesnít really want the horses as much as he wants to kill Wilbarger, and Jake feels bitter that just as he has a chance to get away from this bad situation, things start to go bad. Dan decides to attack them at night so it will be passed off as Indians who did it. Jake draws his pistol, not really knowing what he should do, and then hears a number of shots. When the others ride back, Frog Lip is shot, and Dan insists he hit Wilbarger at least three times, but that the older man had ridden away. The next morning, they discover Wilbargerís two men dead and Frog Lip dying. They shoot Frog Lip in the head to help him finish dying and turn the horse heard north. Jake hopes heís seen the last of the killing.

Two hours later, the gang comes across a tent with two men plowing the ground outside it. Dan Suggs kills them both with a single shot to the head each, and then strings up the bodies as if they were hung and eventually sets the bodies on fire. There is no reason the Dan shot them, because they have nothing of value, so itís clear to Jake that the man is insane. Getting away as soon as possible is the only course left open to him.


Just like always, Jake keeps himself going by thinking about things he doesnít have, like women, riches, a shave, and a bath. He idealistically believes heíll be okay by just making it to Dodge City, instead of taking assertive action to break with these crazy men. Thatís when, like always, heís turned his back on his responsibilities and everything goes wrong. Now he has all these unnecessary deaths on his shoulders as well as the two for which heís personally responsible.


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