Shane Study Guide


Shane by Jack Schaefer

Shane is a 1949 novel by Jack Shaefer about the Starrett family, homesteaders in Wyoming in the late 1800s. The story is narrated by the homesteader's son Bob, who recounts how the Fletchers began to encroach on their territory, intimidating them and trying to buy up their land. However, a brave and mysterious gunman named Shane saves the Staretts, fighting off the Fletchers and allowing the Starrett's to keep their land.

The story is set in 1889 Wyoming, when the Wyoming Territory was still open to the Homestead Act of 1862. It is narrated by the homesteader's son Bob Starrett. The original unclaimed land surrounding the Starrett's 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. Luke Fletcher settled there first, although only so much land could be claimed as a homestead (only 160 acres). Luke Fletcher's herd is at the verge of expanding to the point where the homesteads in the area are proving to be an interference.

The title-character Shane is a mysterious stranger who comes into the lives of the homesteaders, and who 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 trying to get them to abandon their farms.

With Shane's help, the farmers are able to 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.

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