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Lonesome Dove
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Archived 2012 Group Reads > Lonesome Dove 12: Chapters 58-65

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (KristiColeman) Week 12...Please post your thoughts...and have a wonder Thanksgiving for those who celebrate!




Zulfiya (ztrotter) I am in two minds about the book - I even had an argument with my husband. I actually insisted that McMurtry overestimated his abilities when he was plotting the book and understood that he came to a dead end at a certain moment of his plot and character development and could not control so many plot lines, so he decided to 'kill' Janey, Roscoe, and Joe. My husband believes (he re-read this book several months ago) that it was NOT the mistake a la Dickens, and McMurtry is actually showing us the Bad and the Ugly of the Wild West. His point is as soon as you start liking and warming up toward the above-mentioned characters, the psychopath kills them in one batch to show us that life was merciless, ruthless, and meaningless. This chapter really left me befuddled and confused, and I still do not know what to think about it. I still tend to believe that the death of all of them is somewhat gratuitous....

On the other hand, I like how McMurtry is telling us the story of Lorena's emotional healing.


Silver While I was going to quite like the characters of Janey and Joe and had thought they might grow to play key roles in the story later one I rather like the way in which McMurty does exactly what you do not expect to happen. I never foresaw the deaths of those characters coming and I do like authors that are daring enough to go against the "Hollywood ending" or the "Happily ever after."

I like the idea of no character being sacred as it were and anything and everyone being up for grads. I think it was a bold move for him to kill them off like that, and I do think there was realism in it, showing the way in which in that life, there was no predicting what could happen and that everyone was vulnerable.

I am inclined to believe that McMurty knew exactly what he was doing, if you consider the deaths of other characters throughout the story prior to this. He wanted to show the vulnerability of life and that the simple truth was people did die, sometimes in violent and unexpected and unpredictable ways.


Rosemary | 290 comments That's interesting! I'm not sure. I did wonder about Joe, if he was killed off because he was becoming rather too similar to Newt ... but mostly I agree with Silver, that there had to be a few more deaths coming up soon if it was going to stay realistic.

I missed Janey the most. I thought she could have had a lot of potential as a character.

For me, where McMurtry really gets Dickensianly unrealistic is in the coincidental meetings. The way they all keep bumping into each other, you'd think the Wild West was about the size of Central Park :)


message 5: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob I can't believe it. I actually caught up!

I too miss Janey. She was a great character.

I agree that there is an interesting contrast between the seemingly random way in which some characters meet their deaths, and the seemingly coordinated movements of the various groups.

Here are some of the things that have struck me in this chunkster:

McMurtry's utterly unromanticized portrayal of outlaws. Not only are they psycho/socio paths, by and large, but they're frequently rather incompetent ones - like the two ruffians who get caught by July, the various Kiowas and ex-buffalo hunters hanging with Blue Duck (who is himself extremely competent, however), and the Suggses, whom you will soon meet if you haven't already read ahead like I did.

The unblinking focus on the marginalized role of women in this environment. One of the poignant moments, for me, was when Lorena, while being abducted, glances forlornly at her little comb and mirror set (or something along those lines), while Blue Duck pulls her away with some offhand comment like "we'll be traveling fast". In McMurtry's other books that I've read, he has a great feel for female characters, and I think he shows that here too. At the same time, he doesn't spare us from the reality that, in the context of this time and place, and the kind of life the male characters have chosen, women have a very narrow scope for any activity other than sex. And even sex proves to be most of the time a pretty boring experience, at best, for the woman involved, even when it isn't a strictly commercial transaction. While there are exceptional cases like Janey, who equals or betters the men at "men's work", it seems that we learn about the women characters almost entirely through McMurtry's narration of their interior lives, because their external lives are so confined. Their abilities and contributions are undervalued, to put it mildly. I suppose that's true of many historical settings, and of many historical novels to the extent they try for realism, but I'm really noticing it here for some reason.

The emptiness of the Great Plains and the titanic scale of the weather and other natural phenomena. About ten years ago Ian Frazier (?) wrote a great New Yorker article about the Plains that really brought home to me the uniqueness and grandeur of the region. McMurtry's book has the same effect on me.

The childlike quality of the cowboys.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Bob wrote: "I can't believe it. I actually caught up!

I too miss Janey. She was a great character.

I agree that there is an interesting contrast between the seemingly random way in which some characters me..."


An excellent post, Bob!


Andrea (Tasseled) | 186 comments I cannot believe what happened to Roscoe, Janey and Joe. Until the very bitter end when July showed up and confirmed their deaths I was holding on to hope, wishing them to be ok. The turn of events really affected me. I will miss these characters. In my opinion, interactions between Roscoe and Janey were the funnest parts in the book so far. I wonder if we'll see Blue Duck again...


Becky I too am somewhat shellshocked by the deaths of the trio... But I think in July's contemplated suicide we really see Mcmurty's strength as a writer. I felt the insight into July was pivotal as a partial insight to the Texas Rangers in our story. One must assume that at multiple points they had to deal with the deaths of innocents, men they ordered into battle, compatriots, etc. we delved deep into his emotions but in a really realistic gritty way. I don't feel that it was overdone and maintained the feel of the story.

Again when we see Lorie healing from her trauma we have see the more expanded nurturing side of Gus and a new rebirth of a childlike state for Lorie. I personally felt at this point the story and journey is really being flushed out.


Becky And I also think Mcmurty wanted people to draw the caparisoned between Joe and Newt, our little lonesome doves. They are do sweet and innocent and the world is tragic. I think the similarities between Newt and Joe is what makes it do much more tragic when Joe does. I truly think that Newt will make it to the end of the book, and the author is just showing the awful and violent what if the frontier.


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