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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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The next afternoon, Newt, the Rainey Boys, and Pea Eye get to go into town. They are still excited about this adventure even though the first group came back sick from drinking and far less wealthy than they had been. Gus decides to take Lippy in so he can hear a piano in one of the saloons, and Call decides to go to pick up more provisions. Po Campo warns Call to prepare for the dry spell theyíre going to face.

The younger boys are a little spooked by the saloons and have no idea how to find a whore. So, when they see Dish Boggett, they decide to ask him for help. Dish is over at the livery stable where he is picking up his fine little mare he calls Sugar. She is the exact opposite of the Hell Bitch, and she has become almost like a pet to him. As they are talking, a party of about half dozen soldiers led by Dixon rides up. Newt is nervous and looks over at Gus and Call who are loading a water barrel into the wagon. They donít seem to notice the possible trouble, however, especially when Dixon spits tobacco juice all over Dishís shirt. When Dish rushes him for the insult, Dixon hits him twice over the head with the gun barrel. Then, the soldier grabs Sugarís reins and turns to ride away. Newt immediately reacts by grabbing the bridle bit of the horse and hanging on for dear life. Dixon grabs the rawhide quirt on the saddle of one of the soldiers and begins to beat Newt with it. Pete Spettle tries to grab the quirt, but Dixon hits him hard enough to break his nose. Then, one of the blows of the quirt hits Sugar, and her squeal gets Callís attention. He mounts the Hell Bitch and wheels toward the scene of the fight. He feels an anger he hasnít felt in many years and charges headlong into the melee. When Dixon is thrown by his horse, Call jumps down and begins to beat his head against an anvil. Everyone shouts that heís going to kill Dixon, so Gus literally lassoes Call and pulls him away. The soldiers just calmly load the beaten man on his horse and ride away.

Call questions whether Pete is hurt and then asks Newt the same thing. When Newt assures him heís alright, the Captain tells the boy heís much obliged to him for saving the horse and then actually calls him by his name. The people of the town are standing around staring at Call, amazed at the way he had beaten Dixon senseless. He offers them one excuse, ďI hate a man that talks rude. I wonít tolerate it.Ē Dish and Augustus and Newt discuss the whole scene, and Gus says he has only ever seen Call that angry once before - when he almost killed a Mexican who had cut up three white people. However, it wasnít what the Mexican did to them that angered Call so. It was that he had scorned Call. As far as his rescue of Newt, Gus says the Captain probably doesnít know himself why he did it.


This scene is important in that we see Call react like any father would when his son was in trouble. He doesnít recognize thatís what causes the anger, but thereís no doubt thatís the reason. Years before, when he had attacked the Mexican, he did it because the man had scorned him. In a way, this is what Dixon does when he attacks Newt - he scorns Call. Newt is his flesh and blood, and he knows it inside. Therefore, his reaction is to be expected, because thatís his offspring, and heís being scorned.



Before he leaves the younger boys, Gus slips each of them a ten dollar gold piece so they can have a taste of what the hands have been talking about: drinking and whoring. Heís a little wistful when he thinks of them, because even though as a man he knows he can still best them with the women, he will never again stand where they are - going into a whore house for the first time. The boys find Lippy in one of the saloons and ask his advice about whores. Lippy decides the best way to calm them down is to get them drunk. His idea works, and itís Newt who has the most courage. He decides he at least wants to meet a whore and climbs the stairs to the house. When he gets there, he meets Mary and Buf. Pete Spettle decides not to spend his money and leaves, but Newt moves forward with the plan. He ends up with Buf, but the experience isnít everything he thought it would be. They all head back to the herd feeling that it wasnít worth the ten dollars they had spent. Nonetheless, Newt wishes he had another ten dollars so he could do things differently. On the way back, something spooks their horses and Newt and Ben Rainey are thrown. Newt has to walk back when his horse heads for the herd, an altogether unexpected end to their ďexcitingĒ evening.


Gus is always the character who seems to understand life and people the best. Giving the boys money for their first experience with a whore is rather touching even though itís also amusing. He knows that this is a rite of passage for any young boy and wishes he could have that experience himself once more. As for the boys, although they had a less than satisfying moment, it still is part of their growing up process and in reality, none of them would have missed the chance.Their horses being spooked by something unseen brings a more somber tone back to the story. Who knows what might be lurking in wait for them in this new country?


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