Shane

Introduction

Shane is a western novel by Jack Schaefer published in 1949. It was initially published in 1946 in three parts in Argosy magazine, and originally titled Rider from Nowhere.[1] The novel has been translated into over 30 languages,[1] and was adapted into the famous 1953 film starring Alan Ladd.[2]

Plot

The story is set in 1889 Wyoming, when the Wyoming Territory was still open to the Homestead Act of 1862.[1] It is narrated by a homesteader's son, Bob Starrett. The original unclaimed land surrounding the Starretts' homestead had been used by a cattle driver named Luke Fletcher before being claimed by Bob's father, Joe Starrett, along with many other homesteaders. Fletcher had settled there first, although he could only claim 160 acres as a homestead. He wants to expand his herd; homesteads in the area would hinder its growth.[1]

The title character, Shane, is a mysterious stranger who comes into the lives of the homesteaders. He is tougher and wiser in the ways of the West than the farmers who homestead the land. He is thought to be Shannon, a gunslinger who went missing in Arkansas. Joe Starrett hires Shane as a hand on his farm, and Shane puts aside his handsome Western clothes and buys dungarees. He then helps the homesteaders to avoid intimidation by Fletcher and his men, who try to get them to abandon their farms. With Shane's help, the farmers resist Fletcher, but Shane is tested many times by the cowhands and gunslingers hired by Fletcher to intimidate him. Shane always comes through in the end, however, and eventually is forced to kill Fletcher and his men, which prompts him to leave the Wyoming Territory for fear of being labeled a killer.[1]

Characters
  • Shane – the protagonist, a mysterious gunslinger who enters into the life of Joe Starrett and his family and carves a place for himself in their hearts. Although he tries to leave his gunslinging past behind, refusing to even carry a gun, he decides to fight Fletcher in order to save Starrett’s farm.
  • Bob Starrett – Joe Starrett's son. He is eleven years old. He is the narrator.
  • Joe Starrett – Bob's father. A former cattle driver, now a homesteader and a farmer.
  • Marian Starrett – Joe's wife.
  • Luke Fletcher – the antagonist. He is set on purchasing or stealing all the land rights from the homesteaders and farmers. When the homesteaders refuse he resorts to intimidation and deadly force.
  • Chris – one of Fletcher's cowhands who intimidates the homesteaders.
  • Stark Wilson –gunslinger hired by Fletcher to intimidate the homesteaders and kill those who refuse to sell their land. He kills Ernie Wright.
  • Ernie Wright - one of Stark Wilson's victims.
  • Mr.Grafton - general store owner who witnesses the fight with Shane involved.
  • Will Atkey - the bartender at Grafton's general store.[1]
Critical reception

Richard S. Wheeler has written of Shane and its author: "This was Jack Schaefer’s first novel. He preferred in later years to write stories less mythic and more attuned to the real West.... Although he is little known, and the volume of his work is small, he surely ranks as one of this nation’s greatest."

Film and TV adaptations
  • 1953 film Shane, starring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur and directed by George Stevens[2][3][4]
  • 1966 television series Shane, starring David Carradine and directed by Herschel Daugherty and Gary Nelson
  • The 1985 Clint Eastwood film Pale Rider borrows heavily from the plot of Shane.[2][5]
References
  1. ^ a b c d e f Wheeler, Richard S. (26 December 2007). "Shane by Jack Schaefer". Saddlebums Western Review. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Andrew, Geoff. "Shane", Time Out Film Guide, Time Out Guides Ltd., London, 2006.
  3. ^ IMDb - "Shane" (1953) Retrieved 2015-08-09
  4. ^ TCM Movie Database - "Shane" (1953) Retrieved 2015-08-09
  5. ^ TCM Movie Database - "Pale Rider" (1985) Retrieved 2015-08-09
External links
  • Shane: The Critical Edition
  • Oberlin College Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Shane
  • Shane Re-envisioned

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