Lonesome Dove Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 135 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lonesome Dove.
This section contains 933 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Lonesome Dove Summary & Study Guide Description

Lonesome Dove Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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Lonesome Dove, by Larry McMurtry, is an adventure from beginning to end. This epic story will make the reader laugh out loud and cry unabashed as it journeys from Lonesome Dove, Texas to Montana on a cattle drive. The Hat Creek Cattle Company, half experienced and half young men new to the trail, are bound and determined to find unpopulated land to start a ranch. Led by Captain Woodrow F. Call and his partner Captain Augustus McCrae, both former Texas Rangers, the company includes Pea Eye and Deets, who also rode as Texas Rangers with the Captains, and Newt Dobbs, who is Captain Call's only son. The whole adventure begins when Jake Spoon, another former Ranger, returns from Arkansas with stories of untouched green pastures and mountain wilderness. The fact that Jake is running from the law is not missed by Gus or Call, but the lure of open land pulls so hard that Call makes up his mind to go. Lonesome Dove is almost a ghost town when they leave, as they even take with them Lippy the piano player from the Dry Bean saloon, and Lorena Woods, who was the only "working girl" in Lonesome Dove.

The cattle drive is never dull, and the cowboys battle fierce storms, fast rivers, and more danger than any of them ever imagined. From one extreme to another, they travel from stormy territory on through to country so dry that the cattle barely make it to the next watering hole. Jake is traveling with the herd to begin with, and has won the heart of Lorena, who insisted on being taken along. She adjusts better to trail life than Jake. He finally leaves her in their camp while he goes off to gamble in a town nearby. Gus rides over to their camp and while he sits with Lorie, Blue Duck shows up. It is the first time Gus has met him, but his reputation precedes him. Blue Duck knows all about the Texas Rangers named Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, and fearing Call is around he doesn't linger, but Gus is nervous. Blue Duck hardly looks at Lorie, but he sure eyes their horse and mule. Gus wants Lorie to come back to camp with him, but she feels safe and insists on staying. Lorena is taken by Blue Duck to use a chattel with his boys and the Indians who ride with him. He ties her to a horse and they ride for days to get back to his camp. When Jake returns from gambling and Lorena is gone, he thinks she's with the cowboys. He jealously rides over, demanding they return her, but Gus knows that Blue Duck has her. While Jake is totally ineffective, Gus saddles a horse and heads out after Blue Duck alone. For days he travels, after finally finding the trail, and is filled with guilt for having left her alone. He's gone for so long that Call begins to believe he's dead, but the story doesn't end there. The adventures continue as Gus comes face to face with Blue Duck's crew and, in a quirk of fate, has the sheriff from Arkansas with him. While they rescue Lorena, Blue Duck savagely kills his deputy Roscoe, his stepson Joe, and a young girl named Janey who joined them on the trail.

The sheriff, July Johnson, is devastated. His deputy was only there because after July left his home in Arkansas with his stepson Joe to chase down Jake Spoon, his wife Elmira left town. His sister-in-law, Peach, sent Roscoe to let July know, and now July has lost all interest in finding Jake. All he wants to do now is find his wife. Jake doesn't know that though, and he keeps hearing about the sheriff who is looking for him. July is so close at one point that Jake decides it isn't safe to stay where he is. He takes to the road with a group of men led by a barbarian. They cross the plains, killing Wilbarger, his man Chick, and a boy traveling with them so that they could steal his horses. They kill or destroy whatever they come across, and Jake knows he has to get away from them. However, before that can happen, Gus and Captain Call talk to the dying Wilbarger after finding his horse riderless and bloody and backtracking. He tells them before he dies that the Sugg's brothers are responsible for this crime. They bury him and his men, and head out to find the Sugg's brothers and bring justice to them. As former Texas Rangers, they've hung many a horse thief, but when they find the Suggs' brothers, they are heartsick to find Jake riding with them. Without choice, they hang all four men, including Jake Spoon, who gives his horse to Call's son Newt before he bravely kicks his own horse out from under him.

Ride with them, taste the dirt of the trail, and feel the force of story as it rockets along. Never dull, never slow, and hard to put down, this story will make it difficult for the reader to pull themselves back into present day. At the end, one may wish there was more, and may find themselves thinking about many of the characters for a while to come. This is a western at it's finest, a love story of many layers, an adventure of youth and a tale of cowboys and Indians. It takes one back to a simpler time, when survival is the goal, but not always the outcome.

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This section contains 933 words
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