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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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LONESOME DOVE CHAPTER NOTES

CHAPTER 78

Summary

Gus finally returns to the camp after the hanging of Jake Spoon. Dish tells him she will hardly even look at him, but Gus has bigger news about Jake. When Dish observes that he never thought of Jake as a killer, Gus says that he wasnít. He just liked a joke and he didnít like to work, all of which got him into trouble. When he tells Lorena the news, she canít really remember Jake very well. Instead, she has a stronger memory of Xavier Wanz and how he had cried the morning she left. She doesnít really care about Jakeís death, because he wasnít a good man like Gus. Instead, what she fears and cares about is all the death that is happening around her. Also, in spite of the fact that Gus has come back to her and she is content with him in the open spaces, sheís afraid she might lose him to the other woman. Even when she voices this fear to Gus and he comforts her with the comment that he doubts if the woman would even want to marry him, Lorena is still afraid, because she is still unsure Gus wants her.


Notes

Lorena continues her healing process, but is still held back by two fears: the death all around her and whether Gus will leave her for good. Itís ironic that such a formerly independent woman is now so dependent on Gus both physically and emotionally. Itís also ironic that Gus likens himself to Jake Spoon - they both liked a joke and didnít like to work - but one took the wrong path and the other the right one.


CHAPTER 79

Summary

Newt is having a hard time getting Jake out of his mind, especially how he had smiled at the end and given Newt his horse. His death is like a terrible dream for the boy, because Jake had looked so tired that he didnít even care that he was going to be hung. Whatís even worse is that none of those who witnessed it have talked about it since. However, the other hands are all abuzz about the hanging. One of them notes that it was that whore, Lorena, who was his downfall, a comment that riles Dish Boggett.

Newt isnít offended by the remark about Lorena, but it does bother him that the Captain says less and less to him or anyone. Deets is the one who finally understands his dilemma and tries to help. Newt tells him that he thinks itís unfair that Jake was hung just because he happened to be along with the real killers. Deets tells him that Call and Gus are sorry about that, but the law about horse thieves means that Jake would have been hung even if they had taken him to jail. He tells him he shouldnít worry about the ďsleepers,Ē because they have gone to a more peaceful place. Newt doesnít know it, but Call too is living almost constantly with the thought of Jake. He even dreams about nearly saving him by making him stay with the herd and Lorie. Of course, when he awakens, Jakeís death hasnít gone away, and he begins to live with thoughts of him all over again. When Gus approaches Call, the conversation turns to Lorie, who, just like Maggie, Call never calls by name. Gus insists that he does so, because he should want people to call him by his name, and Lorie only asks the same thing. Call says that he doesnít care whether anyone uses his name which Gus thinks is true, because Call just cares about being right. Gus tells him that he needs to own up to the fact that heís made some major mistakes in his life, and that he should have faced up to them everyday so they werenít as painful.

That afternoon, the herd swims the Republican River, and Po Campo repeats that itís going to get dry. However, the other hands are more concerned about whether the Captain will pay them so they can go into Ogallala. Gus speaks to Call on their behalf, and Call promises them half of their wages when they arrive there. This news raises their spirits, but not those of Po Campo who seriously worried about the dry conditions he believes they soon will face.

Notes

The fact that one of the hands blames Jakeís death on the whore he had fallen in with is interesting in light of what the Captain will discover at the end of the novel about Xavier Wanz. Wanz had burned down the Dry Bean Saloon with himself inside in deep sorrow over losing Lorena to Jake. Now she is being blamed for Jakeís death as well. It forces the reader to consider how love of whore or even of a woman he canít have has affected many of the men in this story.

Deets is a source of comfort to Newt who has had a difficult time adjusting to all the deaths that have resulted from this cattle drive, but Gus is only a thorn in Callís side when he reminds him that he is so troubled most of the time, because he wonít face his pain. This is a true analysis of Call whose inability to admit heís wrong and face the mistakes heís made has impacted on more than just him.

There is foreshadowing of difficult times to come in the words of Po Campo who predicts there will be a shortage of water.

 

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