the novel shane by jack schaefer

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The novel is named after and revolves around the protagonist and main character, Shane. He is a gunman who wanders on to Joe Starrett's land and into his life. Shane proves his deep friendship to Joe by fighting with Fletcher and safeguarding Joe's piece of land.


Shane's antagonist is Luke Fletcher, a greedy landowner. Shane must fight him to prove his friendship and loyalty to Joe, for Fletcher is trying to seize Joe's land.


Shane confronts Fletcher and his assistant, Wilson, about their underhanded tactics in trying to take Joe's land from him. The ensuing battle is gory and fierce with Shane first shooting and killing Wilson. When Fletcher fires at Shane, he responds by shooting and killing Fletcher. Fletcher's death saves Joe's land, but ends Shane's calm and tranquil life on the Starrett farm.

The novel opens with the entrance of a mysterious stranger into the life of Joe Starrett, a moral, hardworking Wyoming farmer. The stranger reveals little about himself except that his name is Shane. Joe, however, trusts the man and offers to let him stay on the farm. Before long, Shane becomes a part of the household. To Joe, he is a worker and friend on whom he can rely. To Joe's son, Bob, he becomes a hero. To Joe's wife, Marian, Shane becomes a dear companion.

While staying on the farm, Shane fights his own emotional torment. He longs to settle down as a farmer and forget his past deeds as a gunman, which haunt him. When he learns about the tensions in the village, he does not want to become involved, fearing his own reactions. He cannot, however, stand by and let Fletcher, a wealthy and greedy villager, seize the land of Joe and the other farmers who have homesteaded their farms. In the end, he decides he must use his ability as a gunman to fight for Joe and protect his farm. Although he realizes that his involvement will probably end in bloodshed, he feels his must prove his loyalty and friendship to Joe.

The duel takes place in the saloon. Shane first shoots and kills Wilson, Fletcher's assistant. When Fletcher fires on Shane and injures him, he kills Fletcher as well. Fearing he will never again be accepted or trusted in the valley, Shane decides to leave immediately, without even saying goodbye to the Starrett family that he has come to love.

Joe and Marian are crushed that Shane departs without even saying farewell or allowing them to say thanks for saving their farm; but they know that Shane has positively touched their lives forever.

SHANE BY JACK SCHAEFER (one of my all time favorite books/movies)

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The novel is named after and revolves around the protagonist and main character, Shane. The author intentionally depicts Shane as an enigmatic character, with an aura of mystery surrounding him. He is simply a stranger who rides into the valley, enters into the lives and hearts of the Starrett family, and then leaves the town as quietly as he came. No information about his past is ever given, and his last name is never even mentioned. The townsfolk and the reader are left to infer information about Shane's past by his dress, his thoughts, and his actions.

Shane is a hard worker who wants no favors. When Joe Starrett offers him a job on his farm, he immediately accepts and does his best to help his employer. He also tries to do extra things to repay Joe for his kindness. When Joe mentions that an old tree stump is a real nuisance to him, Shane begins to dig it up. When Joe goes out of town for work, Shane builds an addition to the house. When Fletcher threatens to take Joe's farm or harm him, Joe takes matters into his own hands to protect his employer and his land. It is no wonder that Joe, Marian, and Bob learn to love and respect this quiet stranger in their midst.

During the course of the novel, Shane proves that he has a keen, sharp mind. When he deals with Ledyard, the peddler, he manages to strike a better bargain then expected by Joe. When he senses that Marian needs to be comforted, he gently strokes her hair; but he is wise enough not to pursue his attraction to her. Instead, he always leaves her alone with her husband at the appropriate moment.

Shane is also sensitive to the young Bob. He takes time to talk to the boy and explain things about life, especially what is right and wrong. He realizes that Bob looks up to him as a hero, so he is always careful to say and do the right things in front of him. When Bob sneaks out of the house to follow Shane to the saloon, where a fight is sure to take place, Shane scolds him and tells him to go home.

At the end of the novel Shane proves his deep friendship to Joe by fighting with Fletcher and safeguarding Joe's piece of land.


Shane's antagonist is Luke Fletcher, a greedy landowner. Shane must fight him to prove his friendship and loyalty to Joe, for Fletcher is trying to seize Joe's land.

Other Characters:

Joe Starrett

Joe Starrett is a big, hulk of a man, who lives a quiet life with his family. He has homesteaded a farm in a Wyoming valley, working hard to carve out a place for himself, his wife, and his son. He is proud of his accomplishments and his land. He is also well respected by his family and the surrounding farmers. In fact, he is the unofficial leader of the town. When there are problems with Fletcher, the townsfolk always gather at the Starrett farm and listen to Joe's advice.

Joe is a kind and trusting man. When Shane arrives on his farm, he immediately asks the stranger to come inside for a meal. Sensing the basic goodness of the man, in spite of his dress and mysterious aura, he offers Shane a job on the farm. When the other farmers have questions about Shane, Joe always stands up for him. He respects Shane for his hard work, for his polished ways, for his kindness, for his strength and skill, and for his willingness to do extra things for him and his family. As a result, he views Shane as a true friend and companion. Knowing that Marian is also attracted to Shane, he admits that Shane is a better man than he is.

During the course of the novel, Joe proves that he has strength and power, just like Shane. When Shane begins to work on removing the tree stump, Joe joins in the effort and uses his muscle to help extract the hunk of wood. When Shane has a fight with Chris in the saloon and gets injured, Joe sees what has happened and joins in the fracas, fighting like a madman.

Joe does not want Shane to get involved in the fight with Fletcher and tells him that Fletcher is not his problem. Shane, however, is insistent that he goes into town alone, and Joe knows he is certain to find Fletcher and fight with him. When he learns from Mr. Weir that Fletcher is dead, Joe is scared that Shane has also been killed. He is relieved to find that his friend is alive, but he is greatly grieved to learn that Shane has left town. He knows that he has lost his best friend. As a result, he thinks about leaving the farm, which will never be the same to him without Shane's presence. Marian, however, convinces Joe that he must stay, for Shane has killed two men to make certain that the Starrett family can always live on their farm. Joe finally understands the depth of Shane's sacrifice for the three of them.

Chapter 1

1. What is the setting for this story?

2. Describe the stranger who has just ridden into town.

3. What is the stranger doing that causes a chill to run through Bob despite the warm sun?

4. Who is telling the story?

5. What happens when the Joe and Marian Starrett ask Shane about his background?

6. How does Joe Starrett feel about the future of ranching?

Vocabulary: sideboard, corral, ford, alien, parlor, fraternity.

Enrichment: What purpose might it serve for the author to reveal so little about Shane?

Chapter 2

1. Why did Marian Starrett think that Shane might be from Tennesse?

2. How old was Shane when he left home?

3. Why do the Starretts tell Shane that he should stay on for a while?

4. What does the expression "millstone round my neck" mean?

5. What is Ledyard attempting to sell to Joe Starrett?

6. How does Shane intervene in the negotiations?

7. What does the stump symbolize?

Vocabulary: flapjacks, Sabbath, quizzical, millinery, conserve, frippery, sorrel, feuding, intangible, serene.

Enrichment: Bob describes a white-haired Negro travelling with Ledyard "who acted like he was afraid to talk without permission". Explain why the man might be afraid to talk. What was the status of most blacks in the United States in 1889?

Tuesday, September 17, Homework: Chapter 3 and Chapter 4 Questions

Chapter 3

How did the two men react when Marian asked them about her hat?

Why is Marian standing on the box peering out the little window?

Shane and Joe do not talk to one another while "battling" the stump? Why?

Why do they decide to remove the stump with manpower rather than "horsepower"?

What does Shane mean when he says, "Yes. That's the best piece of stump I ever tasted"?

Vocabulary: perky, mussed, chiming, flushed, wavering, bole.

Enrichment: Research how farmers normally removed stumps from their fields. How long would it take to clear a farm?

Chapter 4

1. Why were Bob's mother and father more alive with Shane living on the farm?

2. What had happened to the previous hired man who had worked for Joe Starrett?

3. Bob felt that Shane would never be a farmer. Explain.

4. According to Bob, why is it so important for Shane to sit in Joe's chair at the table?

5. Why was it peculiar that Shane never carried a gun?

6. Describe Shane's gun?

7. Why does Joe Starrett caution Bob not to get liking Shane too much?

Vocabulary: solitude, vibrant, allegiance.

Enrichment: Research pioneer guns and rifles. How were they different from modern guns and how were they the same? Also describe the ammunition used in these guns.

Wednesday, September 18, Homework: Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 Questions

Chapter 5

1. Was Shane a first name or a last name?

2. Why does Bob stop playing with the gun when he notices that Shane is watching him?

3. How can the reader tell that Shane is very experienced with a gun?

4. What does Shane suggest to Bob is a good way of shooting?

Vocabulary: loft, corral, conjured, inherent.

Enrichment: Examine the two phrases: "He was back somewhere along the dark trail of the past" and "…he dragged himself back into the present". We are never told about his past so use your imagination and describe what you think his past might have been like.

Chapter 6

1. Who was Mr. Fletcher?

2. Why did he say that the homesteaders would have to go?

3. Where did the nearest marshal live? Why might this be a problem?

4. Describe the town.

5. Give a very brief description of the following characters: Lew Johnson, Henry Shipstead, James Lewis, Ed Howells and Ernie Wright.

6. What did Joe Starrett think would be Luke Fletcher's first move?

7. How does Chris, Fletcher's man, try to antagonize Shane?

Vocabulary: querulous, drought, whittling, sallow, chaps.

Enrichment: What did Grafton mean by the phrase, "He wasn't afraid of Chris. He was afraid of himself"?

Thursday, September 19, Homework: Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 Questions

Chapter 7

1. Why was Ernie Wright upset?

2. What happened in the fight between Chris and Shane?

3. What do you think will happen as a result of their altercation?

4. Why was Marian worried about Shane?

Vocabulary: shrewd, ford, insolent, impartial, contempt, serenity, sarcasm, tote.

Enrichment: Why does fighting seldom solve a problem? Can you think of another way to encourage the ranchers and farmers to get along?

Chapter 8

1. According to Bob, how had Shane changed?

2. Why does Marian want to talk to Shane alone?

3. What promise does Shane make to Marian at the end of the chapter?

Vocabulary: nuzzled, discerning, buck.

Enrichment: Why does the author have a young boy, Bob, telling the story?

Friday, September 120, Homework: Chapter 9 and Chapter 10 Questions

Chapter 9

1. Why did Joe and Shane always work together?

2. Bob asks Shane to leave the saloon because trouble is brewing. What does Shane tell Bob?

3. Why does Joe Starrett intervene in the fight?

4. Why does Joe Starrett ask his wife to leave Grafton's?

5. What is the end result of the fight?

Vocabulary: bartering, endured, savored, melee, contorted, lithe, arc.

Enrichment: Early in the story Bob says, "I think that was the happiest summer of my life". Why do you think he feels that way? How does young Bob feel about Shane? Why do you think he feels that way?

Chapter 10

1. Why might it have "hurt" Shane to see the Starretts in the barroom?

2. Describe how Joe Starrett carries Shane?

3. What does Mr. Grafton mean when he says, "I'm marking this to Fletcher's account"?

4. What does Joe Starrett mean by the question, "Do you think I don't know Marian"?

Vocabulary: sodden, tremor, reviving.

Enrichment: What underlying theme do we become aware of in this chapter? Did anything in previous chapters allude to it?