Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Lonesome Dove Readalong Discussion 8: Chapters 71-80

If you're new here, we're reading through the epic story Lonesome Dove about ten chapters a week.

I really loved this section for several reasons. I am really admiring the way McMurtry has woven together this story, casting many strands of storyline and weaving them back together in fitting ways. Stunning, shocking, even heartbreaking ways.

Our questions of the week, written by Leah are below! I hope you join in!

1. Jake Spoon has fallen in with the Suggs' brothers, a band of murderers and horse thieves. They leave a trail of misery in their wake. What do you think of the final outcome? Were you surprised by the ending of Jake? Did you think Call and Gus would do it?

Leah: Honestly someone had to stop them. The Suggs' were gruesome. The fact that Jake wasn't man enough to do anything makes him an accomplice and by default, guilty. Dealing with friends that have fallen from grace, I can't even imagine what Gus and Call were feeling towards Jake. I know Gus had no respect for Jake after the way he responded to Lorie's kidnapping. Newt's the one I really feel bad for though. He's young and he idolized Jake. Watching your idols fall is a hard lesson to learn. However, do I feel that Jake got what he deserved? Yep.

Melissa: Holy Cow!!! Death at the hands of your “friends!” I was shocked – but now that I’ve had a chance to think about it – it makes perfect literary sense. Another brilliantly written scene by McMurtry. And I loved how Jake was the one who kicked the horse that ended his life. Oh, and when Gus mentions Lorena, and Jake responds with, “Who?” I let out an audible GASP! How dare he! I wish they could have hung him twice.

Amy: I was really surprised and didn't expect this at all, but I found it perfect. Life was just so rough! I felt like these scenes illustrated that so well..Jake Suggs was a complete psychopath, as well. Jake's ending was unfortunate but even more unfortunate was the fact that he never seemed to make any really important wise decisions for himself.

2. We learn about Clara's life after Gus. Do you think she is happy with the life she has chosen?

Leah: It's hard to know. Obviously she loves her family and she chose the husband she did for a reason. Nobody can know the full insides of a marriage. However, life on the plains in the 1800s was difficult for women. Research has shown their tendency to go insane is pretty full on because they were alone so often and death of their children was rampant and this was touched on. Claire could have chosen an easier life for herself but she didn't.

Melissa: Happy – I don’t think there is such thing as happy on the plains. There is endurance, hardship, stamina, drudgery – but happy doesn’t seem to exist. But life with Gus wouldn’t have been any better – just different. I can’t imagine surviving her life – burying 3 children, raising two girls, nursing a brain-dead husband, running a business – all without a microwave. She’s got my vote for woman of the year.

Amy: I think Clara is kind of fascinating and I really enjoyed her backstory of life on the plains. What happened to Bob was horrific as well as the loss of her children, but at least she had Cholo! I think it's sad to think of what life was like then for the women and families. Didn't Natalie Merchant write a song about this? :)

3. Elmira leaves her second born son with Clara shortly after giving birth to him, leaves July for a second time, and doesn't even bat an eye when she learns about the death of Joe. How do you feel about Elmira now?

Leah: I'm going to keep this one short - whatever respect or sympathy I may have had for Elmira's situation up until now is gone after these chapters. She left her baby and didn't care about the death of her other son. July shouldn't have come after her, I get that. But she doesn't care about her kids. Peace out Elmira.

Melissa: I’m now done with Elmira too. What a selfish *&^%$. Ditto – Adios Elmira – hope those Sioux treat you well. But these scenes magnify how bleak July’s journey turned out – he went in search of Jake, who is now hanging from a tree, and lost Roscoe, Joe, Janey, and Elmira (again) in the process. He needs to get it thru his head that “she’s just not that into you.” I wish he’d grow a pair, because I’m beginning to lose sympathy for him as well.

Amy: I don't like her at all. I don't even understand her. I do feel like if July had shown some...other feelings towards her she might have been more interested, but his predictable faithfulness bores her and turns her off. I also couldn't help but feel a bit sorry for Zwey and wish he'd send her off on her own. I think they will meet an unfortunate end.


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