Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry|
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LONESOME DOVE CHAPTER SUMMARIES
Elmira insists on leaving as soon as possible, but Zwey is worried that sheís
leaving without the baby. Itís a puzzle to him, because in his simplistic
mind, a mother always wants her baby. Luke realizes that Zwey doesnít
have a clue about men and women and how they make babies. However, before
they even get five miles, Elmira is delirious. By morning, they finally
find the wagon track and pull into Ogallala. Elmira is awake enough to
ask if any of the cowboys they meet know Dee Boot; they tell her is in
jail. She asks Zwey to carry her over to the window of his cell, and when
Dee comes to the window, she is surprised at how much older he looks.
He tells her he is going to be hanged, because he killed a young boy.
Then, Elmira begins bleeding heavily, and they rush her to the only doctor
in the town.
The ultimate irony occurs in this chapter - Elmira comes all this way to find
Dee Boot only to learn that he is going to be hanged. Like so many of
the other characters who become obsessed with how they want their lives
to unfold, like Jake Spoon, Elmira only faces tragedy when her goal is
July Johnson is cursing himself as a man in a worse position than Job. He keeps having setbacks and accidents in his search for Elmira. First, his horse goes lame, and he has to walk back to Dodge and buy another. Then, near the Republican River, as he is sleeping, he is bitten by a snake, and his right leg becomes so swollen and painful he has to cut his pant leg. He assumes he is dying, because he becomes delirious and thinks he is talking to Roscoe, but he doesnít die. However, he has to ride belly over his horse to get close enough to the edge of the river to get water. It takes him three more days before he can go back and get the saddle for horse and five days after the snake bit him before he can actually saddle up and cross the Republican. Nonetheless, he keeps riding on.
Three days after he starts out again, he sees the Platte River and finds a wagon track. About noon, he comes to a lone frame house with corrals and a few sheds, and he feels like crying, because he isnít lost anymore. An old man appears on horseback as he approaches the house and introduces himself as Cholo. Coincidence or not, July has arrived at the home of Clara Allen not long after Elmira has left there for Ogallala.
As they ride up to the house, Clara emerges with a baby in her arms, and July canít take his eyes off her. Clara soon notices his leg and makes him dismount so she can care for it and feed him. When he introduces himself to her, Clara nearly drops the fireplace poker in surprise. Luke had told her that Elmira was married to a sheriff named Johnson from Arkansas, and now here he is. It also occurs to her that the baby Elmira had left there just might belong to this man, a thought that annoys her, because she is becoming attached to the baby. She tells July that Elmira had stopped there about three weeks ago, and in his amazement over the news, he begins to cry. She also tells him after he composes himself that the baby must be his. Itís too big a notion for July to take in, because Elmira had never told him about the baby. Clara says they have named him Martin.
July also explains that Elmira had another son Joe who was killed by Indians,
and that he had been with July in the search for Jake Spoon. This too
surprises Clara, because Jake Spoon had been a part of her past as well.
She finally tells July to do his arithmetic, because by the dates he has
given her of his marriage to Elmira and when Martin was born, July is
definitely the babyís father. The chapter ends with Clara telling the
baby that they donít care what his Pa thinks of them, because they already
know what they think of him.
In spite of setbacks that might have stopped an ordinary man, July Johnson continues to follow his obsession for Elmira. Perhaps itís coincidence or perhaps itís divine intervention or perhaps itís just plain luck, but he finds himself about three weeks behind Elmira and at the home of Clara Allen where his son is being cared for. This follows the idea that there are really no coincidences in life, and that one ends up where heís supposed to be. July needs a diversion to make him realize that his quest for Elmira is futile. She doesnít want him, and she doesnít want his son. Perhaps there is some hope for a future right there on Clara Allenís ranch.
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. 09 May 2017