Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 31-35

By Larry McMurtry

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Chapters 31-35

  • There's a storm a-brewin'.
  • The men hold up the cattle, not wanting to cross the river during the storm.
  • The prologue to the rainstorm is a sandstorm. As winds go whipping down the plains, they kick up sand and dust, which temporarily blinds Newt.
  • Then the storm hits, and lightning strikes.
  • Deets warns Newt not to get too close to the cattle, because lightning is rolling off their horns. Watch out for thunder cows.
  • Newt can't see any better through the pounding rain than he could through the sand, so he just hopes his horse, Mouse, knows what he's doing.
  • And Mouse knows. Mouse and Newt almost fall into a gully (a.k.a. a Mouse trap, har har har), but the horse doesn't slide into the ditch.
  • "Good horse" (31.37), says Newt, and he rides on.
  • Lorena is terrified of the lightning.
  • Jake wants to move her from under the tree, but Lorena thinks the tree is giving her shelter. She lashes out at Jake, hitting him, and he has to physically drag her from the camp.
  • Jake drags Lorena to the river, and they watch as lightning strikes the tree they were just under. Good thing they moved.
  • This might be the only good decision Jake has made so far.
  • The rain stops at dawn.
  • Everyone is alive, except maybe Gus. No one can find him.
  • The remaining cowhands strip off their clothes to dry off.
  • The half–naked cowboys watch the Texas bull, afraid he'll charge them. What, do they have targets tattooed on their rear ends?
  • Lorena dries out her possessions and is upset that most of their food got waterlogged.
  • Here comes Gus to check on Lorena.
  • Jake is nowhere around. He's looking for the horse, which ran away during the storm.
  • Gus fires his pistol into the air to draw Jake back to camp.
  • When Jake returns, he mentions packing up and going to San Antonio—except Lorena, as we know, doesn't want to go to San Antonio.
  • So Jake slaps Lorena. Yeah, that'll make her want to go.
  • Lorena doesn't react. She turns away and starts packing, leaving Jake alone with Gus.
  • Gus says that Lorena probably won't miss Jake if he leaves, and Gus would be more than happy to keep her company.
  • Then Gus rides away.
  • The day warms up fast, and mosquitoes swarm. Gross.
  • Newt is also irritated by a stubborn cow who won't move when he tells her to.
  • As the group approaches the river, Gus and Dish talk about women and love.
  • But enough wimmin, it's time for swimmin'.
  • Everyone rides across the river without a problem…
  • Until there's a problem: Sean O'Brien is dragged off his horse by water moccasins.
  • Um, this never happened in Oregon Trail.
  • By the time the boys recover poor Sean, he's dying of snakebites.
  • Newt is upset and cries over his dying friend.
  • The men hold a brief memorial service for Sean. His brother tries to sing but is too wrapped up in grief to finish the song.
  • The men bury Sean and continue on their journey. The drive must go on.

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