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Free Study Guide for Shane by Jack Schaefer

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Shane and Joe saddle up their horses and ride into town for Ernie’s funeral, which is done in grand style and is well attended. In their absence, Marian and Bob try to occupy their thoughts by playing a board game and reading. When the men return, Joe describes the funeral. As he speaks, the sound of horses is heard. Fletcher and Wilson soon appear. Fletcher smiles and begins to talk, asking Joe to sell his land and telling him he can continue to work on the farm after it is purchased. Curtly and bluntly, Joe refuses the offer, an action that infuriates Fletcher. He tells Joe that he will give him until evening to reconsider the offer. Fletcher then makes an indecent comment about Marian, trying to upset Joe. Joe's face tightens, and his hand goes to his revolver. Shane intercedes and dares Wilson to fight without his guns. Wilson refuses the offer. Joe and Shane, however, now feel that they have a valid reason to fight with Fletcher. When Fletcher and Wilson leave, Marian’s utter fright is obvious. She has feared that both Joe and Shane were going to be killed by Wilson.


Joe and Shane go into town for Ernie’s funeral. When they return, they tell Marian all about the grand affair. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Fletcher and Wilson. Fletcher again offers to purchase Joe’s land, an offer that Joe bluntly refuses. Fletcher is obviously infuriated at the rejection. To try and anger Joe, he makes a rude remark about someone else “enjoying this place of yours and that woman there in the window." Joe is so angered by the comment that he reaches for his gun. Shane, however, intercedes and challenges Wilson to fight him without his guns. Wilson refuses the offer and departs with Fletcher. Joe and Shane now feel that they have a valid reason to fight back against Fletcher, further foreshadowing the outcome of the plot.



After the visit from Wilson and Fletcher, there is an air of tension in the Fletcher household. Even young Bob feels the strain and asks his father, "What are you going to tell Fletcher tonight?" Although Joe remains silent, everyone knows the answer. When Fletcher returns, Joe will still not agree to sell his land.

After dinner, when her work is finished, Marian sits beside her husband and holds his hand. Shane cannot settle down. Filled with an unbearable torment, he leaves the house in a rush. Marian starts to follow him out, but decides against it. Instead, she falls into her husband's arms. Joe understands his wife’s emotions. He realizes that she is truly fond of Shane and fights her emotions for him. He tells her, "I'm counting on you, Marian to help him win again. You can do it, if anyone can."

When Bob sees Shane coming out of his room later in the evening, he is dressed as he was the day when he arrived on the farm. He is also carrying his gun. Bob thinks his hero looks magnificent. Shane announces to Joe that he is going into town. Joe, sensing that he is going to find Fletcher, tries to dissuade him. He explains that Fletcher is not Shane’s problem, and he cannot allow him to try and handle the problem alone. Shane, however, is firm and insistent. When Joe tries to stop him, Shane even hits him on the head with the barrel of his gun. Marian watches the entire argument and understands Shane’s determination. Before he departs, Shane asks her to make Joe understand what he has done. Marian asks whether he is doing this only for her. Shane hesitates for a long moment and then says, “No.” He then departs without a further word.


The Starrett household is filled with tension, for each family member, including young Bob, knows that Fletcher has to be faced before the night is over. Marian tries to comfort Joe by sitting next to him and tenderly holding his hand. Shane, however, can find no comfort. In anxiety, he finally races from the house. Marian thinks about following him out, but she decides against it and takes solace in her husband’s arms.

When Bob spies Shane coming out of his room, he thinks his hero looks magnificent. He is dressed in his formal gunslinger attire, and his gun flashes against his trousers. Bob thinks he looks like the most dangerous man he has ever seen. Ironically, he feels Shane is the safest man that has ever been in their house.

Shane announces that he is going into town. It is clear that he plans to find Fletcher and handle the problem, for he does not want Joe to be endangered by him. Joe tries to dissuade Shane, saying that Fletcher is not his problem. Shane, however, is insistent. When Joe tries to stop him, Shane hits him over the head with a bottle. He tells Marian, who has been watching and understanding the argument, that she needs to explain everything to her husband. He says to her, "Tell him no man need be ashamed of being beat by Shane."


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