Lonesome Dove Characters

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Author: Larry McMurtry

First published: 1985

Genre: Novel

Locale: The Great Plains of the United States

Plot: Western

Time: The late nineteenth century

Augustus McCrae, a former Texas Ranger (with his friend Woodrow F. Call) and co-owner of the Hat Creek Cattle Company of Lonesome Dove, Texas, also with Woodrow. He decides to take their cattle herd to the richer grazing lands in the northern plains at about the time that railroads have made such cattle drives a thing of the past. Augustus convinces Woodrow and several of his other friends to make this romantic trek with him. Augustus is garrulous but affable, and just when it seems that he might be no more than a windbag, he demonstrates his intelligence and trail skills by bravely rescuing Lorena Wood from the evil Indian Blue Duck, the villain of the story. Augustus begins the drive in part to see, once more, the love of his life, Clara Allen, who lives along the route of the cattle drive.

Woodrow F. Call, Augustus' partner, who is as taciturn and grim as Augustus is warm and friendly. He is the father, by a prostitute, of Newt, one of the boys on the drive. He never acknowledges this fact but symbolically recognizes Newt as his son by giving Newt control of the cattle ranch the men establish in Montana. He must leave the ranch to return to Lonesome Dove with the body of Augustus, who is fatally wounded in an Indian attack. Woodrow, who hides his dark side from himself, learns the most about his own life and how the world has changed around him during this final journey.

Jake Spoon, a former Texas Ranger and an old friend of Augustus and Woodrow. He arrives in Lonesome Dove on the run from an Arkansas sheriff. He is the first to suggest the idea of the cattle drive, hoping that if he is on the move, he will escape capture. He falls in with a gang of robbers and meets a tragic fate at the hands of his old friends. He serves to show how the gunplay and trickery at which Woodrow and Augustus are skilled must be kept under control lest they turn malevolent.

Newt, a teenage trailhand and unrecognized son of Woodrow. Augustus tells Newt who his father is. His role in the story gradually grows larger as he changes from a green kid to a young man who accepts and understands the responsibilities of adulthood. He remains bitter because Woodrow will not embrace him as his own.

Josh Deets, a loyal and able black trailhand and longtime friend of Augustus, Woodrow, and Jake. He rode with Augustus and Woodrow when they were Rangers and is one of the key wranglers on the cattle drive. In one of the most shocking incidents in the novel, he is killed suddenly by a hostile Indian.

Clara Allen, Augustus' former lover, who has made a new life for herself on the plains. Her husband, disabled from a horse kick, dies, and she operates her farm more efficiently than he did. Strong, intelligent, and independent, she is one of the most admirable figures in the story.

Lorena Wood, a beautiful blonde prostitute in Lonesome Dove and the girlfriend of Jake Spoon. She goes on the cattle drive because Jake has promised to break off from the drive and take her to San Francisco. Instead, she is kidnapped and sold into slavery by Blue Duck. Augustus rescues her, and she winds up living on Clara's farm.

Blue Duck, an Indian raider, a longtime enemy of Augustus and Woodrow who dogs the cattle drive and creates trouble. He meets his end when he crosses paths with Woodrow.

July Johnson, the inept sheriff who is after Jake Spoon. He leads a group of drifters who fall in with him as he trails Jake, but he is the only one of his group to escape massacre at the hands of Blue Duck. He also makes his way to Clara's farm, where he finds his child. The baby was abandoned by his wife, Elmira, who passed through on her way to a reunion with her reprobate lover, Dee Boot, who is hanged shortly after they reconnect. She is later killed by Indians. Clara convinces July to stay at her ranch and take care of his child.

Categories: Characters