My thoughts on this week's chapters:
The last two sections that we discussed were high points for me -- but with this section, I'm back to where I started at the beginning, somewhat ambivalent about their whole journey. I'm finding that Jake's insolence is really beginning to nerve me. Any scene that he decides to show up in, I'm ready to skip ahead. It's like dealing with a bratty, spoiled, 4 year old -- but worse. I do love their new cook and I really like Deets, even thought he isn't a major character. The cattle drive is slow...I just want them to get out of Texas for crying out loud! Now we have Indians, and in true Hollywood, John Ford-form, they are scalp carrying, women raping, Indians. Wonder when Gus will ride in on his white horse to rescue Lorena?
Here are Leah's, Amy's and my thoughts -- Leah was in charge of this week's questions (and if you visit Leah's blog, make sure you give a shout out to the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series!):
1. We now have the full story of two huge female relationships in our main men's lives: Cal and Maggie; and Gus and Clara. They are very different. What do these relationships tell us about the men they've become, if anything?
Leah: I just found the difference between the way the men treat their 'true loves' very striking. Gus is a hopeless romantic, still pining after Clara years later after she has essentially dumped him for a, at least in her opinion, more sensible man, and moved up North. Gus clearly loves women though and while finding comfort with a couple of wives, the one that got away still haunts him and he truly did try to court her into a relationship. Cal on the other hand was completely different. He basically wanted to 'test the waters' with the whole women thing to see what everyone was talking about. From what I can gather, Maggie was the first and last woman he has ever been with and it has left an indelible mark. While he is a man of few words, he has a son out of it, Newt but he won't even acknowledge that. He must feel bad for how things ended with Maggie, things left unsaid. It was an interesting story.
Amy: I found Call's story so sad! The amount of guilt he carries around with him is rather heartbreaking. I think he liked Maggie, but I wasn't even sure he loved her. But what's interesting is how seriously he takes his failure to properly deal with the situation.
Gus does love women and you gotta feel for him pining after Clara. :)
Melissa: The more Gus talks to Call about his relationship with Maggie (how he thinks Call should have settled down with her had a family) the more I think he is really trying to project his personal desires onto Call. I think Gus really wanted that with Clara, but it didn’t work out. So, he is trying to impart his dreams onto Call – and unfortunately for Maggie, Call never wanted that. Also, as much as I want to believe that Gus is in “love” with Clara, I think he has created this image of her, because really, what else does he have to do but day dream about her all day long?! As far as Call, I was surprised at how introspective he got about Maggie – do men really have that depth of feeling?! He really did some soul searching out there in the Texas desert.
2. Our old pal Roscoe gets a female traveling companion! Do you think he should have rescued her? Do you think they make a good pair?
Leah: What can I say? Every time we see Roscoe I smile but this story had a dark twist. I really wanted Roscoe to be the hero and jump in and save the woman being beaten by the old man in the house he was sleeping at but he didn't want to get into someone else's domestic dispute. I thought it was weak. I was glad she chased after him anyway and I am excited to see where that goes.
Amy: Roscoe doesn't seem to do much he's not absolutely forced into. I laugh straight through his chapters. Janey didn't need him to do the saving after all, he provided enough of an opportunity for her to save herself. I will be very interested to see where it goes.
Melissa: Honestly, even though I read these chapters fairly quickly and recently, I had already forgotten that Roscoe had picked up a “stray.” I guess I need to re-read that part. But in spite of my brain lapse, I find myself wanting to read more of Roscoe’s story.
3. The cowboys finally meet a Native American while traveling, the famous Blue Duck, who Cal and Gus even know from their Ranger days (and we saw how bad ass Gus and Cal used to be when they Rangered when they wandered into San Antonio for a bit). What do you make of everything that has happened with Blue Duck and Lorena and what do you think will happen when Gus and Blue Duck meet again?
Leah: Talk about some true cowboy and Indian action like the kind old fashion Westerns were about! We have a captured damsel in distress and an old time cowboy hero riding in to save the day from the rogue native, while the scoundrel Jake just sits back and gets drunk and angry. Seriously it's some good action. I predict a shoot out!
Amy: I found what happened horrifying! Poor Lorena! (though I'm sad she couldn't just stay by herself) You're right it feels like the classic Western scene. There better be a shoot-out!
Melissa: See, I told you she should have gone with Xavier! I’m stumped as to why Gus didn’t FORCE her to come to camp with him. He knew exactly the danger she was in. Seemed to go against his character. Her horse back journey was quite terrifying. And when Blue Duck turns her over to his men…wow…even though it was written obliquely, it’s a sickening scene. My only issue with this chapter is it seems so, like you said, “Western.” Is McMurtry feeding/perpetuating a Hollywood cowboy/Indian stereotype? Not sure.
Any thoughts on the reading this week?