Study Guide

Angle of Repose Part 4, Chapter 2

By Wallace Stegner

Part 4, Chapter 2

  • Susan has just arrived in Denver. She searches for Oliver on the train platform and finds him pretty quickly—he looks older, with a "thinned-down face" (4.2.2).
  • Susan and Oliver embrace happily. Their son, Ollie, isn't with Susan, however: he fell ill just before she was supposed to leave and is staying with her family in Milton to recover.
  • After a quick meal, Susan and Oliver rush to catch another train.
  • Oliver tells Susan about life at the camp. It's a rough-and-tumble place—not too long ago, he was faced down by a dude with a shotgun looking to steal his land. Oliver ended up surrendering the lot, but that's mostly just because he's making a ton of money right now.
  • The train stops. Oliver and Susan emerge into a wild scene filled with workers and wagons and activity. Oliver leads Susan through the crowd until they reach a wagon that he loads up with their stuff.
  • But, why aren't Oliver and Susan going on the public stagecoach? Oliver doesn't really respond, but we can tell that he doesn't like the idea of his smokin' hot wife around a bunch of skeezy miners.
  • So, Oliver and Susan ride. They pass by an ore wagon stuck in the mud, but Oliver refuses to stop and help, much to Susan's confusion.
  • Oliver and Susan pass the stagecoach a bit later. As they go alongside it, Susan is overwhelmed with the stench of "whiskey" emanating from the coach (4.2.91). Charming.
  • Suddenly, the empty road ends, and Oliver and Susan find themselves in a tiny village filled with a surprising amount of people. Looks like they'll be crashing in a hotel tonight.
  • But then, Oliver and Susan get a huge buzzkill—the hotel has given away the room that Oliver reserved and paid for. Susan can tell that Oliver is infuriated by this, but he doesn't do anything.
  • Instead, Susan and Oliver head to a nearby boarding house and spend an uncomfortable night in a room filled with dozens of people.
  • Susan can hardly sleep. As soon as it's light outside, she wakes up Oliver and begs him to get going.
  • With that, Susan and Oliver are back on their way to Leadville. At one point, Susan decides to stretch her legs and stroll alongside the wagon, but that doesn't last long.
  • Oliver notices that one of the horses looks sick and "dull-eyed" (4.2.178). He walks alongside to lighten the load and push the sick horse along.
  • Suddenly, Oliver and Susan see a stagecoach approaching them at breakneck speed. Oliver furiously whips the horses in order to get out of the way, which upsets Susan's delicate sensibilities but ends up saving their lives.
  • The sick horse dies soon afterward. Oliver and Susan have to buy a new one (which, uh, also dies), but they finally make it to Leadville.