Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 71-75

By Larry McMurtry

Chapters 71-75

  • Jake is excited to get to Dodge. "I'd like a bath and a whore" (71.1), he says. We're generally happy with a continental breakfast.
  • Approaching Dodge, Jake and the Suggs brothers bump into Wilbarger. And by "bump," we mean ride into their camp and shoot at them in order to kill Wilbarger and his men and take their horses.
  • Things don't go as planned. Frog Lip is killed in the shootout.
  • But so are Wilbarger's men. Wilbarger is nowhere to be found.
  • The gang continues on as if nothing happened, bumping into two men plowing the land. And by "bumping," we mean they shoot them, hang them, and set their corpses on fire. Holy crap. These guys are crazy.
  • "Jake's happy mood was gone" (71.140).
  • Yeah, the smell of burning flesh will do that to a man, won't it?
  • Deets stumbles across Wilbarger, who is critically wounded from the shootout with the Suggs brothers.
  • Call and Gus ride with Deets, Pea Eye, and Newt to see Wilbarger.
  • Gus leaves Dish in charge of watching Lorie. She isn't happy about it, but she wouldn't be happy with anyone else.
  • The men find Wilbarger under a blanket Deets covered him with, and he's still alive.
  • Wilbarger tells the guys it was the Suggs brothers, those murdering horse thieves.
  • Gus and Wilbarger chat a bit, then Wilbarger dies.
  • The guys bury Wilbarger and give Newt his rifle.
  • Newt marvels at the idea that under the ground there are millions of bones.
  • Dish tries to bring Lorena food, but she doesn't want to eat until Gus gets back. He brings her food anyway, and then returns to the wagon, where Lippy tells him about the time Gus "trick[ed] her" (73.26) back in Lonesome Dove.
  • Lippy immediately feels guilty for blabbing the secret.
  • The next morning, Dish brings Lorena more food and helps dismantle her tent.
  • Lorena rides close to the wagon and makes small talk with Po Campo.
  • Lorena and Po Campo stop to wash in a river, which is very cold. Po Campo says it's snow water, and he gives Lorena wild plums to eat.
  • Like William Carlos Williams's plums, these plums are very sweet and cold.
  • After another day riding, Dish finally begins to realize that Lorena will never love him the way he wants her to. It's sad out there for a cowboy.
  • Gus and Call and the gang find Wilbarger's men and bury them, too.
  • From the tracks, Deets realizes that Jake Spoon is part of the Suggs gang.
  • The men follow the tracks, encountering the burned settlers along the way.
  • Call realizes what they have to do: catch the Suggs brothers and hang them all. Even Jake Spoon.
  • Our men reach the Suggs men, sneak into the camp, and catch them off guard.
  • Someone shoots Little Eddie Suggs when he attempts to fire his rifle.
  • The rest of the men are restrained and stripped of their weapons.
  • Call and his men saddle up the Suggs men and Jake and lead them to a tree to hang them all.
  • Newt asks if they have to hang Jake. "He was my ma's friend" (74.128), he says.
  • Call, who was also Newt's ma's friend, says, "He's guilty with the rest of them. […] Any judge would hang him" (74.130).
  • Call and his men put nooses around each outlaw's neck, including Jake's. The Suggs brothers go first.
  • As the Suggs brothers are hanging, Gus speaks to Jake. He tells him that he got Lorena back.
  • "Who?" Jake asked (74.158).
  • To Jake, Lorena and that part of his life now feel like worlds away.
  • Jake offers his pony to Newt. That's convenient, given that Newt's horse just died.
  • And then Jake spurs his own horse, leaving himself swinging from a tree.
  • The men bury Jake and the Suggs brothers, except for Dan, the leader.
  • Gus puts a sign on Suggs—"Dan Suggs, Man Burner and Horsethief" (74.176). Yep, that's an accurate assessment.
  • Then, the men ride away, Newt on Jake's pony, with Jake's saddle.
  • On the way back to camp, Newt is so tired that he almost slides off the horse. Pea Eye follows him in case he does.
  • Now we meet Clara. We've heard of her before, but we've never seen her. She's the woman Gus is still in love with.
  • Clara lives outside Ogallala with her two daughters, Sally and Betsey, and her husband, Bob.
  • What about Bob? He was kicked by a horse, and now he's comatose in bed. Clara has to take care of him, and she feels bad that she's basically just waiting for him to die.
  • Clara has help from a Mexican cowboy named Cholo.
  • Even though Bob's occupation was horse trader, Clara seems to know more about horses than Bob ever did.
  • In her rare moments of downtime, Clara reads short stories and women's magazines, and she dreams of becoming a writer.
  • Those dreams won't come true today, because Clara has visitors.
  • And wouldn't you know it? It's Big Zwey and Luke.
  • Elmira is in the wagon, and she is very sick.
  • Clara realizes that the woman isn't sick—she's in labor.
  • Cholo delivers the baby. Both the child and Elmira survive, but Elmira isn't interested in her own baby at all.
  • Clara realizes she'll have to feed the baby cow's milk, because Elmira, who reluctantly nurses the baby, can't satisfy it.
  • All Elmira wants to do is get to town and find Dee Boot.
  • Even though Clara tells her to rest, Elmira leaves with the men to go to town, leaving Clara with the baby.
  • Clara holds the baby close and hopes it will live. She's already lost three sons, and she doesn't want to lose another baby.