Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 51-55

By Larry McMurtry

Chapters 51-55

  • In the morning, July crosses paths with Wilbarger. You'll remember from him when he bought horses from Gus and Call.
  • Wilbarger tells July he saw Jake Spoon down in Lonesome Dove. But he never saw Roscoe.
  • Wilbarger offers to give Joe, July's stepson, a job, but Joe decides to stay with July.
  • Joe regrets that decision quickly, when he realizes that July has no idea what the heck he's doing.
  • Roscoe, a grown man, follows Janey, a teenager, because she is more capable than he is at basically everything.
  • One night, Roscoe and Janey are followed by bandits. They run, but the bandits, Hutto and Jim, catch up to Roscoe and strip him of all his clothes looking for money.
  • Janey, lurking in the bushes, keeps beaning the men with rocks, which keeps them from shooting Roscoe.
  • Thankfully, July shows up, and he and Joe tie up the bandits. They all ride to town, with Janey tagging along, to turn the men in to the sheriff.
  • In town, July and Roscoe catch up on Elmira's disappearance. Since Roscoe knows nothing, July isn't any better off than he was before.
  • Roscoe decides to tag along on July's search for Jake Spoon and Elmira, but first, they pay a woman to board Janey.
  • However, when the guys ride away the next day, Janey shows up. She returns the money, and the men realize they're stuck with her. Hey, she's the most competent one there. Don't complain.
  • Back on the whiskey boat, Elmira is having trouble with a man. No, not Jack Daniels or Jim Beam—we're talking about Big Zwey.
  • Big Zwey's not a buffalo hunter. He has basically claimed Elmira as his own, and he wants to marry her.
  • But Elmira only has eyes for Dee Boot, her ex, and she wants to find him.
  • Elmira's disinterest doesn't stop Big Zwey from hanging around and watching her all day. Hey, it's romantic when Edward Cullen does it, so why can't Big Zwey do it?
  • Elmira decides to take advantage of Big Zwey's obsession and travel with him on his wagon. They're headed to Ogallala, where Dee Boot was last sighted.
  • Big Zwey brings his pal, Luke, along, and while they hunt, Elmira pilots the wagon. The three kind of make a good team.
  • Augustus tracks Blue Duck through the plains. He finds Lorie's dead horse. It's a relief that there's no dead Lorie with it.
  • But there's a speck on the horizon.
  • It's not Blue Duck or Lorena; it's a weird old buffalo bone gatherer named Aus Frank.
  • Gus recognizes Aus Frank as a bank robber he once caught.
  • Aus Frank broke out of jail, and he's been pushing a wheelbarrow around, by himself, gathering buffalo bones ever since.
  • Frank knows a bit about Blue Duck because Blue Duck killed his companion, Old Bob.
  • Gus makes camp near Aus Frank, and the next morning he rides east, along the "road of buffalo bones" (54.101), on the hunt for Lorena.
  • Blue Duck has met up with men named Monkey John and Dog Face. Unsurprisingly, they're not nice guys.
  • These men have a stake in Lorena, sharing her body with the Kiowa Indians whenever they meet up with them.
  • Monkey John is the worst, threatening to sew Lorena up "with rawhide threads so tight she couldn't make water and then would watch her till she burst" (55.11). Which might be the worst thing we've ever read, ever.
  • The men fight over a full stake in Lorena, and Blue Duck tricks them into a game to win her back.
  • Then Blue Duck trades Lorena back to Monkey John and Dog Face for a favor: he wants them to kill Augustus McCrae.