Larry Mcmurtry's Lonesome Dove

Submitted By durza2
Words: 2548
Pages: 11

Style of the West Larry McMurtry, the author of Lonesome Dove and other classic western novels, brings to his works the classic myths and traits of “the West,” this novel is made up of ”every element of standard western myth--cowboys, whores, outlaws, sheriffs”(Perrin). The style of Lonesome Dove is prolific with simple language that is capable of construing an image of the adventures the two Rangers manage to find and how they strive to survive and scratch out a living in Post-Civil War America. McMurtry’s style is used to show the worthiness of the western genre and demonstrates the qualities that have interested people for years, his use of an outside omniscient narrator, many symbols and images that relate back to characters in the book, and the subtle use of irony help to demonstrate the themes that are typical of a western, mainly good versus evil and the ever presence of death on the frontier. McMurtry’s third-person narrator is able to see into the past and often does so to show the reader each character’s past and how that history has affected them through time and the reasons each character acts the way they do. These flashbacks reveal the past of one of the few female main characters in this book, Lorena, whose past is told in the introduction of her character, “She had only been seventeen when she met Mosby, and both her parents were dead. Her pa fell out in Vicksburg, and her ma only made it to Baton Rouge, so it was Baton Rouge where she was stranded when Mosby found her” (McMurtry 37). As a young woman her family died leaving her alone, making her unable to make a life for herself with no money and no family. As a result, with no other way to support herself she was forced to resort to one of the few opportunities of employment a young woman with no husband could get, which considering the time period of the story and the location, was “sporting”, or prostitution, which is a well known western archetype of any western novel. She met another man who took her to San Antonio, but when he told her he didn’t want to marry her she found that becoming a sporting woman was “precisely the habit that Tinkersley expected her to acquire” (39). After he abandoned her in Lonesome Dove she became the sporting woman of the town and made a living off the many cowboys that lived in, or passed through, the town. Women, to the men of this time period, had the sole purpose of either being married to a man and taking care of the home or being used for sex by any man that wanted. This sentiment is aptly shown by Thomas Flanagan who says, “just about all the women were whores, never referred to in other terms. A few exceptions existed, but mostly for the purpose of being slaughtered by nonwhite malignants like Blue Duck, who tortured and killed out of pure cussedness” (Flanagan). This post-Civil War era in the western, uncivilized, area of the United States has limited women who aren’t married to one profession, being a sporting woman. This one profession is abused by men of all types and McMurtry uses this common lifestyle of “the West” in his books almost religiously, rarely introducing a character who is not married yet is also not a sporting woman. One of these sporting women is Lorena who has forced Jake Spoon, who has used her several times when he is in Lonesome Dove, to take her away from the dreary town of Lonesome Dove and take her to San Francisco. Another is Maggie, Newt’s mother, who Newt realizes “as he turned over his memories, that his mother had been a whore, like Lorena, but this realization tarnished nothing” (61). Prostitution is extremely prevalent in the west, according to McMurtry, and many of the main female characters are in fact prostitutes, although the reasons they have resorted to this lifestyle are varied one thing stays the same, they have been forced into this lifestyle through forces outside their control. Lorena only became a sporting woman because of her situation and the men around her, she was