Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 76-80

By Larry McMurtry

Chapters 76-80

  • Big Zwey doesn't understand why Elmira doesn't want the baby.
  • There's a lot Big Zwey doesn't understand—for example, he thinks the baby is his. Even though he and Elmira have never known each other, in the Biblical sense.
  • On the road to Ogallala, Elmira develops a severe fever. Zwey and Luke want to take her to the doctor, but all Elmira can do is ask for Dee Boot.
  • Elmira learns that Dee Boot is in jail. Before she'll go to the doctor, she demands to see him.
  • Big Zwey and Luke take Elmira to the jail, where she tells Dee Boot that she left her husband for him.
  • Dee Boot informs Elmira that it's too late for him: they're going to hang him for killing a boy.
  • Either the shock or the fever causes Elmira to faint, and Zwey carries her away.
  • July continues doing his job. No, not that whole sheriff thing; we're talking about how he continues being the unluckiest dude in the west. His horse dies again, he gets attacked by ants and bitten by a snake, and then he stumbles into an old man's ranch house.
  • We'll be shocked if this man isn't a serial killer.
  • Color us shocked, because he isn't. It's Cholo, Clara's friend.
  • That's right: July just stumbled into the same house his wife recently gave birth in. Maybe his luck is changing.
  • Clara tells July that his wife passed through three weeks ago.
  • July cries with relief. Clara's daughters have never seen a man cry before.
  • July has another surprise coming to him: Clara introduces him to his son, whom she has named Martin.
  • Clara has July watch the baby while she cooks.
  • After dinner, Clara gives July a place to take a bath and have a rest, and he takes her up on her kind offer.
  • Lorena is relieved that Gus has returned.
  • Gus tells the men that they hanged Jake Spoon, and they're all shocked.
  • When Gus tells Lorena, she barely remembers Jake, just as Jake barely remembered her.
  • Lorena tells Gus that she's afraid he'll marry Clara and leave her.
  • Gus assures her that Clara wouldn't want to marry him. She's too independent.
  • Lorena wants Gus to sleep with her, but he still won't. He only holds her all night long.
  • Dish and Bert Borum fight over comments Bert makes about Lorena. Call considers breaking them up, but he doesn't.
  • Newt wants to talk to the Captain about Jake, but he can't bring himself to do it.
  • Deets is kind enough to listen to Newt as he talks about his confusing feelings regarding Jake's hanging.
  • Meanwhile, Gus and Call discuss approaching Ogallala… and Clara.
  • The other men want to meet women, too, so they convince Call to pay them half their wages in Ogallala, so they can celebrate.
  • Elmira's fever breaks.
  • Actually, Elmira's fever isn't the only thing that broke—so did Dee Boot's neck. He's already been hanged.
  • Elmira is beside herself. She has no idea what to do with her life now.
  • July arrives to talk to Elmira. He tells her that the baby is fine, but Joe is dead.
  • Elmira doesn't seem to give two shakes about either bit of news.
  • July says he'll return in a few days to check on Elmira after she has rested a bit.
  • As soon as July leaves, Elmira tells Big Zwey to get the wagon and hit the road with her. She doesn't want to go back with July.
  • Even though Zwey and Elmira are warned about violent Indians, they set off East. We can see where this is going.