Author Topic: Book Club: Discuss/find out about a Classic Tale Set in Wyoming: The Virginian  (Read 30261 times)

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Time for a pic of "The Virginian"!

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"She had come to read to him for the alloted time, and she threw around his shoulders the scarlet and black Navajo blanket, striped with its splendid zigzags of barbarity. Thus he half sat, half leaned, languid but at ease." Sigh. The Virginian is healing from his wounds and soon he will be able to walk again, will be able to leave the bed where his nurse has sequestered him.
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Chapter 28, "No Dream to Wake From" is a climactic one-page chapter, the only similar one in the book. It is the book's "dozy embrace." This is when the words of love are finally expressed between TV and Molly Wood. He is still recovering from his wound, and she is still nursing him. Here, as in life, the woman benefits from all the feeling that men have built up among each other in the day-to-day adventures in life. Lucky us.

The reason it's called No Dream to Wake Up From is because they are living what most people just dream or talk about. I feel that way many times recently meeself.

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Authors like to underscore the unusualness of a relationship by having the lovers embrace in an unusual way. In Brokeback Mountain, Ennis embraced Jack from the back, not facing him. In The Virginian, the patient was sitting on a chair in Chapter 28, with Molly crouched in front of him. He encircled her bent head in his arms, and they remained that way for a long time, peacefully together at last.

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Chapter 29 "Word to Bennington" is a rather tiresome chapter about TV's and Molly's letters back home telling of their intentions, and the stuffy New Englanders' reactions to them. If you want to skip it, that's okay with me, but there is some awesome writing and enlightenment of TV's character.



Stay tuned, because the story takes a decidedly wild and interesting turn in Chapter 30!

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A lovely passage about clouds is posted here:

http://bettermost.net/forum/index.php/topic,5109.0.html
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In Chapters 30 and 31, we catch up with the narrator again and once again we are returned to the world of men. (sigh of relief!) The judge has sent The Virginian out on one of his most challenging assignments yet--to capture and bring to justice a band of cattle rustlers! And the ringleader is none other than Trampas, TV's long-time nemesis. After a pursuit through the Grand Tetons of Wyoming, the posse finally catches the band of varmints when one of them makes the fatal mistake of starting a fire. But, only two of the outlaws are captured. And these are a new character in a gray flannel shirt and, <sob> Steve (see the earlier pages of this topic for a discussion of Steve).

The narrator arrives just after the two rustlers have been taken into custody. The posse is camped out near a grove of cottonwoods, the only place for many miles around where frontiier justice can be meted out--hanging!!
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Steve is a long-time friend of the Virginian--maybe his oldest friend. As the other members of the posse say, "you was thick with Steve." Nevertheless, justice must be done, and both Steve and the Virginian understand that.

The narrator arrives several days early, right after Steve and another rustler have been captured, and everybody is uncomfortable.

Even Steve, who tries to make the narrator feel at home. The narrator is so touched, that he lends Steve his newspaper, which Steve devours avidly, even though they are his last hours.

In the morning, doomed men and those who are going to kill them sit down together for breakfast. Steve relives the chase through the Teton Range of mountains, and ends by marvelling "What a strong combination we were!" 

Finally, the Virginian speaks for the first time: "Nothing is stronger than its weakest link." So true. The band of rustlers was caught because one of their number made the fatal mistake of lighting a fire, giving away their location.

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The posse, with the Virginian leading, rides off in the morning to perform their grisly errand, which takes place in the lone stand of cottonwood trees tall enough for a hanging. Later, the Virginian returns to retrieve the narrator and escort him back safely though the Tetons to Sunk Creek.

There is an awkward exchange of information. The Virginian speaks as if in a daze, until he turns and addresses the cottonwood grove, "Goodbye forever!" These were our first natural words this morning, the narrator observes as he hands TV his flask.

On the trail, TV is compelled to speak about Steve, how he had changed over the recent years, how he never said a word of goodbye to TV before he was strung up. He is clearly heartbroken.

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While on their return journey, TV is full of angst: "He knew passionately that he had done right; but the silence of his old friend to him through these last hours left a sting that no reasoning could assuage. 'He told goodbye to the rest of the boys, but not to me.' And nothing that I could point out in common sense turned him from the thread of his own argument. ....'the man I used to travel with is not the man back there. Same name, to be sure. And same body. But different in--and yet he had the memory! You can't never change your memory!' He gave a sob. It was the first I ever heard from him, and before I knew what I was doing, I had reined my horse up to his and put my arm around his shoulders. I had no sooner touched him than he was utterly overcome. 'I knew Steve awful well,' he said."

Sound familiar?

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