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Free Study Guide for Shane by Jack Schaefer

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Bob cannot imagine missing this fight; therefore, he sneaks out of the house and follows his hero. When Shane spies him, he chastises Bob and tells him to go home. He then rushes away to lose the boy. Bob, however, is determined to see the fight. He creeps into town under cover and goes to the saloon, where he climbs on to a perch from where he can see everything that happens.

There is a hush in the saloon, almost as if everybody has been waiting for Shane's arrival. Wilson is present, and so is Chris -- with his hand in a sling and a smile on his face. When Shane enters, he asks where Fletcher is. Wilson answers by asking where Joe is. The stage is clearly set for the battle.

Shane and Wilson face each other squarely and without fear. Then with incredible swiftness, gunfire resounds through the saloon. When the shooting stops, Shane stands solidly. Wilson, however, has a useless right arm; blood can be seen flowing from under his sleeve. Not satisfied with simply injuring Wilson, Shane fires another shot, which hits Wilson in his chest and sends him toppling to the ground. Suddenly, another bullet is fired, and Shane is hit on the shoulder by a shot from Fletcher’s gun. Shane swirls around and fires a return shot at Fletcher, who has been hiding in the balcony. Fletcher falls against the rail, jars it loose, and falls with it. Bob has watched the entire fight.

Satisfied with his victory, Shane leaves the saloon in dignity. Bob follows him out and calls to him. Shane stops to speak to the boy. With sadness in his voice, he explains that a man cannot be changed from his original mold. He has tried to leave gunfighting behind, but he felt that he had to fight against Wilson and Fletcher. Now he knows there is no place for him in the village; he cannot go back to the farm. He tells Bob to look after his parents. As he leaves town, he is a dark, lonely figure against the moonlight.


The climax of the story occurs in this chapter. Shane finally comes to grips with the fact that he cannot escape who he is. As an expert gunslinger, he knows that he must fight Fletcher and Wilson and spare Joe from tragedy. He also knows that his decision will prevent him from remaining on the Starrett farm, but he is willing to give up his comfortable, stable life in order to protect Marian, Joe, and Bob. It is a truly noble gesture.

The young Bob is not about to miss out on the action. When Shane leaves the house, Bob sneaks out and follows him. When Shane spies Bob, he scolds him and tells him to go home. Bob does not obey, but continues on towards town under cover. When he arrives, he finds a perch at the saloon so he can watch the fight that is sure to occur. The author has to have the boy present in the saloon, for he is the one telling the story from the first person point of view.

When Shane enters the saloon, everyone is sitting in silence awaiting his arrival. Shane looks around and asks where he can find Fletcher. Wilson answers by asking about Joe’s whereabouts. Shane is a picture of calm and confidence. Now that he has made the decision to fight once again with his gun, he is no longer tortured by uncertainty or indecision. He is prepared to take care of Wilson and Fletcher once and for all.

Shane and Wilson square off against each other, and gunshots ring through the saloon. When it is silent again, Shane is standing unhurt, and Wilson is seriously wounded in his right arm. Not satisfied to only injure his opponent, Shane fires another shot into Wilson’s chest, killing him. Then another shot is heard, which grazes Shane’s shoulder. It was fired by Fletcher, who has been hiding in the balcony, awaiting the chance to kill Shane if needed. Before reacting, Shane mutters aloud, "I gave him his chance."

Shane then reacts quickly to the gunshot. He swirls around and successfully fires at Fletcher, who falls against the rail, breaking it and tumbling to his death. Satisfied with his victory, Shane walks out of the saloon with pride and dignity. Bob follows him out and calls to his hero. Shane stops and explains the situation to the boy, saying that a man cannot escape the mold from which he has come. He came into the town a gunslinger, and he must now depart from the town because he has used his gun again. He tells Bob, “There's no going back from a killing. The brand sticks and there's no going back." This time, however, the killing was to spare the Starretts from tragedy.

Unable to stay on the farm any longer, Shane leaves town without even saying goodbye to Marian and Joe. He simply tells Bob to take care of his parents. As he departs, he is a dark and lonely figure against the moonlight.


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