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Free Study Guide for Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

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The chapter begins with Callís annoyance at Gus for leaving half the cattle to Lorie. Itís hard to put aside half the money every time he sells cattle, especially when Lorie isnít there to help. He lived all winter in the tent while the hands were in the log house. Hugh Auld and Po Campo become great friends over the winter, they kill Gusí pigs to have pork for Christmas, and Jasper Fant learns to be a great cook. They lose fifteen horses one night, and Call is sure itís Indians. It strikes him as ironic that he has negotiated with the very Indians who killed Gus and comes to the conclusion that Gus was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, it turns out that the horse thieves are a father, who is a Bible reader, and his son. Needles is with him when he goes to capture the pair to hang them for being horse thieves. The father strikes out at Needles with a hatchet and would have killed him if Needles hadnít jerked back. So Call is forced to shoot him. Then the boy begs for his life saying that his father made him do these things, and that he can be of help to them since he has worked as a blacksmith. Call has always been strict when it came to punishing horse thieves, but this time he gives in and brings the boy back to the ranch.

For ten days, the boy, Big Tom, works and is very friendly, but none of the hands really likes him. Then, one morning, Call catches him trying to ride off with four of the menís wallets. Call had been watching him, because he expected something like this would happen. They then hang Big Tom.

Now thatís itís spring, Call thinks about the promise he made to Gus and who he should leave in charge of the ranch while heís gone. He sends Newt to break horses at Fort Benton again which infuriates Soupy who sees it as an insult that a boy is given priority over him. He eventually draws his wages and, along with Bert Borum, leaves for Texas. Call worries that he wonít have enough hands to run the ranch, but three young men from the fort give up soldiering and accept a job with him, and two genuine cowboys from Mile City ride up and ask for a job as well. Then, he begins the branding of the new cows, and Newt learns to rope better than anyone else on the ranch. All though these events, Call tries to find a time to tell the boy that heís his son, but every time he has a chance, he chokes up and the words wonít come. Then one night, Call tells Newt that he has to take Gus back to Texas, and he wants Newt to be in charge of the ranch. He tells him about the money that has to be banked for Lorie, and then, he gives him the Hell Bitch and his Winchester. All these gestures are what a man would do for a son, but Call just canít bring himself to be honest with the boy. Newt feels sadder than heís ever felt in his life, because he senses that the Captain wants to say the words. When heís ready to go, the final thing he hands Newt is his fatherís watch, and then, he abruptly turns and rides away. Pea Eye comments to Newt that everything the Captain gave him is what someone would give his kin. But Newt responds bitterly, ďI ainít kin to nobody in this world. I donít want to be. I wonít be.Ē Call is gone and things will never be as Newt had hoped. As Pea Eye watches this all take place, he feels like the whole ground of his life has shifted, and he is filled with foreboding. Both he and Newt just feel that all they can do is work, even though in many ways, neither one even cares.


This chapter is so striking because of the deep feelings expressed by the characters. Life seems to be progressing well even though they have to hang the thief, Big Tom. Then, when Call leaves, he cannot tell Newt heís his son, and all the gifts he gives him, gifts that a father would give a son, are meaningless, because he canít bring himself to publicly claim Newt as his son. There is a sense of impending disaster in Pea Eyeís mind, and his fears are left with the reader as well.



When Call arrives in Mile City to get Gusí coffin, he discovers that something had broken into the shed, knocked over the coffin, and made off with Gusí severed leg. Nonetheless, he buys a buggy, hooks the coffin to it, and takes off for Nebraska. He regrets bringing the coffin to Claraís home, but he has promised to deliver the notes. Clara tries to convince him to bury Gus with her sons and Bob, but Call refuses. Later, she reads the message from Gus and hangs her head, wondering why death keeps coming to her. As for Lorena, she just stands by the coffin and decides she wonít read the note. She stands there all night, but eventually collapses and must be carried in the house. It all begins to anger Clara who hates Gus for his perversity in asking Call to take his body to Texas. She also lashes out at Call, telling him that his promise to Gus is nothing compared to the life of his son. He should return to Montana, she tells him, and give his boy his name, instead of giving him his horse. She bitterly observes that men always make promises and then leave every time. She tells him she despises him for being a vain coward, and she resents every day he had spent with Gus and deprived her of the same time. None of it has any effect on Call who just puts his mule into a trot and leaves Claraís home with Gusí coffin tied on the back.


This is an important chapter in that Clara has Woodrow Callís character pegged to a tee. He is a good man, but he never sees that what he believes is right might not be the correct decision. Furthermore, the fact that heís bound to a dead man seems perverse to her. It is perverse, because Gus had forgotten in his request of Call that the living might need his friend more than he did. Clara knows the damage this will leave behind and bitterly rails against it. Unfortunately, there is no one, not even his son, who can change Callís mind.


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