The Characters

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

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 At the end of the novel, it is clear why Woodrow has been so quiet and withdrawn throughout; this behavior is a retreat from involvement and a defense against those who need him.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...

(The entire section is 607 words.)

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Augustus McCrae

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

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

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...

(The entire section is 720 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The two central characters are Augustus McCrae and Woodrow Call, retired Texas Rangers who are partners in a failing cattle ranch in Lonesome...

(The entire section is 201 words.)