Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Chapters 81-85

By Larry McMurtry

Chapters 81-85

  • July is super sulky when he returns to Clara's farm.
  • Clara enlists July to help her clean her husband, and she talks to July, telling him it's clear that his wife doesn't want him.
  • Instead of pursuing Elmira, Clara suggests that July work on the ranch and help take care of his own son.
  • July doesn't listen, but when he goes to Ogallala to visit Elmira again, he finds her gone.
  • Looks like July has no other choice. He gives up the chase and helps Clara shuck corn.
  • July is supposed to help around the ranch, but he's too tired and exhausted and depressed to do much of anything except eat.
  • Clara convinces July to snap out of it and stay with the baby.
  • July sings to the baby and holds him.
  • "That's progress" (82.60), Clara says.
  • After sleeping on it another night, July decides to stay for good.
  • All the men on the drive are excited about going into town for whores, but all Gus wants to do is visit Clara.
  • Gus tells Lorena he'll bring her with him, so she can see firsthand that he doesn't plan on marrying Clara, and vice-versa.
  • Outside of town, the men bump into Captain Weaver, a drunk army captain, and Dixon, a scout, who try to requisition their horses for a so-called Indian War.
  • Weaver mentions that Indians killed a buffalo hunter and a woman. (Elmira and Big Zwey! We're sad about one of them, at least.)
  • Call stands up to the Captain and refuses to hand over his horses.
  • The cavalrymen realize they're too weak and helpless to stand up to Call, so they just sit there on the ridge watching them as they ride away.
  • Lorena doesn't want to go into town, because she is still scared of people.
  • Gus leaves Lorena at camp and heads to town to buy her nice clothes.
  • That night, Gus goes to a bar where he sees a gambler hit a girl named Nellie. Gus hits the man, knocking him into another table.
  • After the altercation, Gus returns to camp.
  • Lorena again tells Gus she's afraid he'll leave her. Clearly he hasn't, so he just hangs out beside her.
  • Lorena wishes she didn't have these abandonment issues, and she hopes something will kill her and Gus both; then she wouldn't have to be alone.
  • Newt and the younger boys head into town to buy a whore. But first, they buy candy.
  • While eating their candy, the boys witness Dish get into an altercation with Dixon, the army scout.
  • Dixon throws a cheap shot and knocks out Dish, so Newt jumps him.
  • Dixon whips at Next, but Newt won't let go.
  • Captain Call sees everything and rides in, crashing his horse right into Dixon.
  • Call jumps down and kicks Dixon in the face, knocking him unconscious—and knocking out a few teeth.
  • Dish recovers consciousness, and everyone checks on Newt and the other boys, who are fine.
  • Gus and Dish are in awe of the display of anger and rage that just erupted from Call. They'd never seen anything like it before.
  • Newt wonders if it was because of him, and Gus says, "That was part of it" (85.102). The part Call still won't admit.

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