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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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FREE ONLINE ANALYSIS FOR LONESOME DOVE

CHAPTER 72

Summary

Deets finds Wilbarger by backtracking his horse after they crossed the Arkansas River. Dish Boggett is almost drowned in this river when his horse takes fright, but Deets saves him before the horse can paw him under. He finds Wilbarger and rides back to tell the Captain that heís shot, but not yet dead. Wilbarger asks to see Gus if itís not too much trouble for him to ride to where the older man lays. He, Deets, and Call decide to take Pea Eye and Newt along as well. Deets tells the Captain that it was white men who shot Wilbarger, horse thieves. Gus leaves Dish in charge of Lorena and promises her he has no intention of running off. Dish is also placed in charge of the herd, two heavy responsibilities, but two heís willing to accept. As for Newt, he sees the gesture on the part of the Captain to take him along as a sign that he has more respect for the boy than he shows.

Wilbarger is dying, but tells the men that his murderers were Dan Suggs, his brothers, and a black man who rides with them. He thinks he hit the black man, and heís galled to have been shot fatally by horse thieves after living through the fighting of the Civil War. However, seeing the Hell Bitch, the filly heíd once wanted to ride, cheers him even in his final hours. Newt is more affected by the manís dying than he thought, because Wilbarger accepts it so courageously. Heís further affected by Wilbargerís desire to shake hands with Call for all the favors Call had done him. A few hours later, Wilbarger is dead, and they mark the manís grave with the skull of a buffalo. They give Wilbargerís rifle to Newt, but in spite of the fact that heís always wanted one, he canít enjoy it because of the strain of all the deaths heís experienced. Gus comes over and comforts him by reminding him that they are riding over land that is filled with the bones of animals and men, and that people have been living and dying on the earth for thousands of years. Wilbargerís is just one more to be added.

Notes

Newt learns a lot on this burial trip. He has been faced with the reality of death many times now, and it has left a strain on him. But Gus points out to him that men have been dying on the earth for millions of years, and that the ground is filled with their bones. Newt is comforted by this thought, because it helps him understand how to deal with the loss of those who mean so much to him. He also learns that maybe the man he idolizes so much - Captain Call - thinks more of him than the man usually lets on. That, too, is a comforting thought.


CHAPTER 73

Summary

Dish takes food to Lorena after he gets the herd settled, but she doesnít even speak to him, just goes into the tent and closes the flaps. The next morning though, he comes upon her buttoning her shirt and is very embarrassed. Thatís Lorieís revenge. She only has to look at men like Dish in the eye to make them aware that they might pay for her, but theyíll never really have her. However, she does speak with him this morning, asking when Gus will be back. He, of course, has no answer that will really satisfy her. Po Campo brings her a few wild plums, and she wishes he would bring her Gus instead. She knows if he doesnít come back, sheíll have no hope of protection. As for Dish, he knows that Lorie will always be as distant for him as the Kansas stars.


Notes

This chapter shows two young people feeling unrequited love. Dish is so in love with Lorie that he thinks he can wait for her forever. Ironically, she is so dependent on Gus and the safety he offers that she sees no one or nothing else.


CHAPTER 74

Summary

Soon, Call, Gus, and the rest of the men with them find Wilbargerís two men and the people killed by Dan Suggs. Deets tells Call that Jake is definitely with them, not only because he recognizes his track, but also because the track shows the sideways tendency Jake has when riding in a saddle. Deets knows that if Jake is riding with these killers thereís no hope for him, and Call is hit hard by the realization that heíll have to hang a man who had once rode the range with him. Ironically, he makes the same observation about Jake that Jake had made about Lorie - itís a bad situation, but he put himself in it. Soon, they surround the gang most of which have bedded down for the night. They have to shoot Eddie Suggs in the shoulder, but then they take away all of their guns, including Jakeís. He thinks for awhile he has the chance to convince Call and Gus that he wasnít a part of the killing, but they only point out that he had gone along with six killings and thatís making his escape a little slow.

When Newt asks if they have to hang Jake, because he was a friend to newtís mother, Call is surprised by the comment, but insists that any judge would hang him, too. Meanwhile, Jake canít get his mind to snap to, to convince his former friends that heís no killer. His mind doesnít seem to want to work, and all he feels is an overpowering fatigue. His life has slipped out of line, and he canít find the energy to fight it any longer.

Jake is the last one they plan to hang, and Call apologizes that it has to be them that does it. Jake grins and says heíd rather it was friends than strangers, adding that he never meant any harm. He tells Newt that he can have his pony - the pacer he loved so much - and gives all the others the money in his pocket to be divided evenly. Before any of them can even respond to his gestures, Jake spurs the horse and brings about his own hanging. Gus says that Jake died fine and they bury all the bodies, but Dan Suggs. Call breaks up a piece of the wagon they had with them to make a marker for Jakeís grave, and Gus observes that life is peculiar - if Jake hadnít talked Call into this trip, he wouldnít have been hung by them that day. They take Wilbargerís horses with them and head back to the herd.

Notes

Jakeís hanging is one of the more poignant scenes in this novel. He is essentially a good man who makes bad decisions and finds himself in a situation from which he cannot be extricated. He has much to regret about his life and in the end, he feels overwhelming fatigue for the consequences theyíve led to. However, by spurring the horse to hang himself, he at least dies a ďfineĒ death, meaning that in the final analysis, he was man enough to accept responsibility for all his actions and bring about his own punishment.

 

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