Study Guide

Minor Characters in Lonesome Dove

By Larry McMurtry

Minor Characters

Flock of Doves

There are too many characters in Lonesome Dove to go into detail about every one of them, but many of them are simply supporting characters with only one or two details. If you're trying to remember who someone in the book is, we have you covered.

The Spettle boys, Pete and Bill, are two boys Call brings on the journey. Call worries that they will die, but he worries that about all the boys, and not about just Newt, his own son.

"He would take as good care of them as he could, and yet what did that mean, with a drive of twenty-five hundred miles to make?" (16.8)

Pete doesn't go to a whore, because he told his Ma he'd save his money.

Another pair of boys are the Rainey boys, Jimmy and Ben. These are all boys whose families need money for food. It's a little like the Hunger Games, really.

In the Hat Creek Cattle Company, we have men like Needle Nelson, Bert Borum, and Soupy Jones, an ex-Ranger who is "[b]rave but lazy, a fine card player, and by all odds the best horseman any of them had ever known" (23.15).

There's also Jasper Fant, who has a reputation for "being reliable, if not brilliant" (15.54). He has an intense fear of rivers. He's so hydrophobic that we're surprised he doesn't float above the river out of sheer fear of being "drownt" (17.13). Also tagging along is Lippy Jones, a piano player with a hole in his stomach and a really ugly hat that look like a "chamber pot." (4.19)

In Fort Smith, Arkansas, where July hails from, we've got Peach Johnson, July's sister-in-law.

"She was large and quarrelsome and did not resemble a peach in any way." (26.13)

Her husband was shot by Jake, and she wants July, the sheriff, to hang him.

Elmira, on the run, travels with Big Zwey. She has "power over the man" (53.30), mainly because he's so ignorant that he doesn't understand what marriage is. He thinks spending time with Elmira constitutes marriage, and he thinks that "marriage" will get her pregnant. His friend Luke is a trader with "mean eyes" (66.11) who tries to rape Elmira… until she shoots his ear off.

On the bad-guy side of things, we've got Captain Weaver and Dixon the scout, who bully the Hat Creek Cattle Company to try to requisition horses. Nice try, boys, but Call doesn't let anyone boss him around. We also have Ermoke, Monkey John, and Dog Face, evil bandits who rape Lorena. They're no match for Gus. Dog Face literally gets his testicles fed to him by Blue Duck.

Finally there are the Suggs Brothers, Dan, Ed, Roy, and Frog Lips, a black man.

"Dan Suggs seemed to hate everybody he knew—he spoke in the vilest language of everyone, but his particular hatred was cowboys." (68.6)

Suggs wants to start regulating, which means charge people fees to cross over free land. He would make a good CEO of a company today. The Suggs brothers also brutally kill and steal for absolutely no reason. It's mostly Dan's idea, but no one tries to stop him, not even Jake Spoon, making him guilty by association.

Other minor characters include the following:

  • Aus Frank, who pushes a wheelbarrow of bison bones around the country.
  • Sally Skull, a prostitute who dies, after which Jake takes all her money.
  • Jennie, a prostitute who was friends with Elmira.
  • Cholo, Clara's Mexican helper
  • Buffalo Heifer, the prostitute Newt loses his virginity to. Take a look at her name and guess what she looks like.
  • Hugh Auld, a trader who lends Augustus a horse.
  • Dr. Mobley, who amputates Gus's leg.
  • Big Tom, a sneaky horse thief who is hanged alongside his father.
  • Decker, a sheriff who kills Blue Duck with a lucky shot. Blue Duck somehow manages to push the man out a window before he's hanged, thereby continuing his reign of terror until the very last moment.

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