We are in the home stretch of our Wild West read along.
Emotionally, this was one of the toughest sections to read. The high points -- the Hat Creek Gang finally arriving in Ogallala, and Gus and Clara reuniting. The low points -- Deets -- enough said. I'm not a book "cryer" -- but I shed some tears with this one.
I wrote the questions this week -- I could have been more concise -- but there was so much to talk about -- and I totally forgot about Elmira and Zwey. Deets was the only thing on my mind.
1. The Hat Creek gang finally arrives in Ogallala – while in town, lots of things happen – Call beats up a Calvary officer, Dixon, over his “acquisition” of Dish’s mare AND the boys finally find themselves “whores” – first, what are your thoughts on Call’s temper? And, what do you think of the boys’ first “experience?”
Leah: The town scene was interesting for many reasons because they had built it up to mythical proportions being out in the middle of nowhere for so long so I figured it would be entertaining. For me, Call’s temper was justifiable in this instance. Dixon was whipping his son. Whether or not Call will ever admit to Newt that he is his boy, he has raised him as such and he is. Call is just a man of few words, as we’ve seen. But clearly, he will protect him from anything and anyone when given the chance. Call didn’t even know what came over him. As for the boys first experience with ‘whores’ it was comical and kind of what I expected. I’m sure they’ll still brag about it though!
Melissa: Leah, thank you for being so smart! When I thought of this question about Call’s altercation, I wasn’t thinking of it in terms of a parent/child relationship – but of course, that explains it. My initial reaction was the persona Call embodies – this brooding, loaner, who hasn’t, for the most part, shown much of what makes him tick. I’ve been so perplexed by him throughout the whole book. So, the violence in this scene just was another twist to who he is and why. As far as the boys – I thought it was hysterical. I laughed out loud when Buf was with Newt… the imagery (as much as it made me uncomfortable) was priceless.
Amy: I thought Call beating up that guy was both a reaction to what he was doing to Newt as well as left over frustration. It was definitely new insight into his personality! I guess I was a bit surprised he flew into such a blind rage, because in every other aspect he has always seemed very controlled. I thought the boys experiences were funny--especially like Leah said after they had made it out to be so grand in their minds.
2. Gus and Clara reunite -- thoughts?
Leah: Those two together are great. I loved reading their interactions. Gus needs someone who can give it to him as good as he puts out and Clara is his match. I don’t blame Clara for being done with marrying though. I thought the whole day was sweet. Personally, I am glad Lorena stayed on. I think it was a good choice.
Melissa: I love them! I want McMurtry to write a Gus/Clara novel! My reaction last week to an imagined Clara/Gus relationship was much of the same as what she had with Bill, but different. Now, I’m not so sure. Their repartee, their enduring friendship – everything makes for a great love story. I too am glad Lorena stayed on – she finally gets to experience normalcy – whatever that is out on the plains.
Amy: I also loved them....they are kind of epic. :) I, too, was glad that Lorena stayed behind and that she made friends with the girls and that maybe she’ll be okay.
3. There is a huge sense of foreboding once the Hat Creek gang leaves Ogallala – many of the men don’t want to go and Po Campo is prophetic when he predicts that water will become scarcer. Then, the unthinkable happens – Deets is killed. Why is Call so stubborn in his quest for Montana? Should they have stayed? How did you feel when Deets died?
Leah: Who knows why Call is so stubborn? Why did anyone have the desire to tame the West? Because they want to be the first; because they want to make the most money; because they want the glory; because they did it in Texas; one last hurrah before they die? I don’t think Call has it in him to stay but everyone is a free agent and could have made their own choices. McMurtry’s writing and tribute to Deet’s passing was beautiful. Call and Gus loved Deets and it could not just be said in a couple of paragraphs. I think McMurtry wrote this beautifully. I feel like anything I say will be trite in comparison.
Melissa: I think one of the key lines in this section is when Gus says (and I’m paraphrasing, because I can’t seem to find it in the book), “I’m going to scatter Jake Spoon’s bones if this doesn’t work out.” This whole trek is based on some notion that Jake Spoon dreamt up back in Lonesome Dove – and it’s finally dawning on them that Jake was a loser, and they shouldn’t have listened to him. But Call is determined (why, I don’t know – see previous answer about what makes him tick) to continue in spite of all the reasons why they shouldn’t. It’s like a man not asking for directions. Then Deets. The truth is, I don’t cry in novels – but I was heaving when this happened. He was one of my favorite characters. And I hold Call responsible. Honestly, after that scene, it has been hard for me to pick it up again because I’m scared of what will happen next.
Amy: Deets death was horrific (as so many of these deaths are) and you’re right Leah, that it was written beautifully. I have no idea why Call is insisting on going and it annoys me to no end. They’ve already lost so many and they have no real idea of what they’re getting into. Yes I know the pioneer life, but most everyone had been quite content to stay in Lonesome Dove. Also, what about Elmira’s offscreen death? I felt bad for Zwey.
Any thoughts about this week's reading?