Study Guide

Lonesome Dove Principles

By Larry McMurtry


The cowboys in Lonesome Dove have a good sense of direction. They can navigate from the south of Texas all the way to Montana without needing to consult their GPS. These cowboys also seem have a good sense of moral direction—most of them, anyway. They have an unwritten code of honor they go by, even if it mostly boils down to one rule: don't steal horses. But when horses aren't involved, our heroes still seem to shoot straight and true.

Questions About Principles

  1. Is there a difference between a cowboy's moral principles and the laws of the time?
  2. Does Jake Spoon have any principles at all?
  3. If you were to write down a cowboy code of ethics, what points would it contain?

Chew on This

A man is only as good as his word in the Wild West, so having morals often leads to a good reputation.

Even a prostitute can have principles in Lonesome Dove. Principles are always relative to the time period and the context.

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