Augustus McCrae is the dominant and most memorable character in Lonesome Dove. An engaging combination of rustic philosopher and confidence man, Augustus displays both humor and an adaptability to any circumstances, including physical danger, that make him likable and trustworthy. Augustus talks more than anyone else in the novel, a point about which his taciturn partner, Woodrow, reminds him frequently, but Augustus is not all blarney; when he rescues Lorena from a gang of desperadoes, he kills several men in a matter of seconds. When Augustus dies, it is as if a pillar supporting the structure of the novel has been removed.
Woodrow Call is similar to Augustus only in his ability to handle any physical trouble. Trouble of the other kind, devils of the mind and relations with other people, paralyze Woodrow. At the end of the novel, it is clear why Woodrow has been so quiet and withdrawn throughout; this behavior is a retreat from involvement and a defense against those who need him. He is friends with his apparent opposite, the affable Augustus, because both share a sense of honor and integrity, as well as many years and miles. Jake Spoon shows what might happen to a person with the rough frontier skills of Woodrow and the slyness of Augustus but without the sense of principle that defines his former ranger pals. Jake uses Lorena, since he has no plans to take her to San Francisco; furthermore, he abandons her in her hour of greatest need. When Jake falls in with a...
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