HI 83 / LO 54, sunny
For the rest of the summer, I am going to do a series on Lonesome Dove, even though doing so is probably right out of “9 Easy Ways to Alienate Your Readers.” I’m doing it anyway. I intend to spoil everything because there’s no other way to discuss these characters without discussing the whole dern book.
Yes, I’m beginning to talk like Pea Eye–a character I won’t cover because as I said, I only have a few weeks.
When I said it was a book about love and friendship, I started thinking of song titles or book titles or other phrases with the word “love” in them to describe each character. So, here are a few I won’t be covering:
Pea Eye Parker: Love Will Find a Way
Dish Boggett and July Johnson: Lookin’ for Love (In All the Wrong Places)
Xavier Wanz: Burning Love
Blue Duck: Loveless
But you’ve gotta start somewhere. I’ll start with Lorie.
Love Isn’t Here / But It’s Somewhere: Lorena Wood
(from Patty Griffin’s “I Don’t Ever Give Up.” You didn’t think I’d cover a Western without mentioning Patty Griffin, did you?)
“Lorena had never lived in a place where it was cool — it was her one aim.”
This sentence in chapter 3 introduces us to Lorie. Is it any surprise then that she ends up in Nebraska?
Lorie is 19 and a prostitute, due to being an orphan and falling in with a man who basically pimped her out. Then another man does the same thing. Finally she gets free and sets up shop doing the one thing she knows how to do. She has no education — she can’t even read anything except her own name.
Lorie knows her love has an effect on men, but she almost never picks the right one. Jake is a mistake. Xavier Wanz offers her money, almost $100, to marry him, and he would have taken her to San Francisco and been good to her. And Dish Boggett travels through blizzards to get back to her in Nebraska as soon as he can after the cattle ranch gets established. But she doesn’t care for either of them. She only loves Gus.
“Dish loved you and took the only way he had to get your attention,” Clara said.
“He didn’t get my attention,” Lorena said. “He didn’t get anything.”
“And Gus did the same and got everything,” Clara said. “Gus was lucky and Dish isn’t.”
Lorie is the perfect woman for Gus because he’s a “blabber” and she is silent. “Silent happened to be how she felt when men were with her.”
That silence probably saves her life when she’s abducted by Blue Duck: “Now speech had left her; fear took its place.” If not for her silence, she might have been dead when Gus reached her.
But Gus understands: “Gus was perfectly patient with her silence. He didn’t seem to mind it. He just went on talking as if they were having a conversation, talking of this and that. He didn’t talk about what had happened to her but treated her as he always had in Lonesome Dove.”
After Gus saves Lorie, he tells Call, “She won’t forget it, but she might outlive it.” What he doesn’t count on is that she never outlives her love for him.
Lorie comes out of her silence briefly when she leaves Gus to stay with Clara, but returns to it after Gus dies. From then on, she only talks with Clara’s daughter, Betsey. We begin to see that although Lorie survives, she’ll never really recover, not enough to love anyone but the man who saved her.
Lorie’s story ends when she faints beside Gus’s coffin. Her final word is silence.