1) Gus starts off this section, saying, "Here is where we all find out if we was meant to be cowboys." when Deets predicts a storm. Newt later observes that the only person who hadn't performed well in the storm was Sean. Did you predict at this point Sean would be the first casualty? How did his death impact you? What did you think of the way Gus and Call handled it?
Leah: I knew that they wouldn't make it through the whole journey without a death, of course there would be deaths, but two days in, and in such a violent manner, this was pretty sad to take in. Sean was so young and I think, I am not sure who it was Call or Gus, that said that is was just poor luck because it could have been anyone, it didn't matter how well trained you were. I think it would be hard to have to accept a death like that on the trail because it would really bring your morality into focus. It's especially poignant since Sean didn't seem to want to be in America in the first place.
Amy: I also thought it was really tragic! I thought the singing at the grave was kind of beautiful and I cried a little bit. It sounded like such a horrible way to go and the whole thing happened so quickly.
Melissa: This one shocked me! The visual of him being swarmed by water moccasins was awful! But the writing was so effective, I re-read it so I could immerse in the tragedy. I know the brothers played a minor role in this whole drama, but I loved the nuance their characters added – true “Irish Tenors!” I feel really sorry for the remaining one. I thought Gus and Call handled the best way they could: acknowledge it, remembered him, had a proper burial, and moved on.
2) Elmira and Loraine are both traveling on their own in the company of men. What do you think about the differences in their two situations? Which situation would your rather be in?
Leah: I love this question! Personally I would rather be on Lorrie's situation because I think the men she is travelling with probably care about her more as a person (yes she is a whore but at least they know her and like her!). They don't want anything bad to happen to her. If she gets fedup with Jake, you know Gus will take care of her and she has a bunch of money. Whereas Elmira, she's on that boat with a bunch of men she doesn't know. No thank you! Dreaming up some story, chasing after some man that left her.
Amy: Elmira's situation sounds terrible to me as well, I thought that part about how the men thought she belonged to them and in their eyes she didn't belong to herself to speak volumes. I also think Lorrie's in a much better situation!
Melissa: Well one thing Lorena has going for her – she is on land – she’s got the freedom (barely) to leave on a horse if she wants too. Elmira is stuck on a boat – nowhere to move -- so she doesn’t have a lot of options. And it has to smell (even worse than a bunch of dirty cowboys!). Honestly, both women’s situations stink (literally and figuratively). I still think I would rather be with Xavier on my way to San Francisco. So sad that women had so few choices.
3) Roscoe is a bit pathetic out looking for July on his own when he runs across Louisa Brooks who proposes marriage in no time. What did you think of this unique character of Louisa and Roscoe's reaction to her?
Leah: FUNNIEST CHAPTER EVER! Louisa was a hoot. She was in charge of her own life. She clearly was a great farmer who doesn't need a man but wants a man. This is in stark contrast to the previous women we've met so far. Whereas, Roscoe doesn't know what's hit him! As far as I can gather he's barely interacted with women before, which I think Louisa might even like about him. As far as she's concerned he can come back and be her companion. Love it!
Amy: I laughed SO MUCH during this chapter! Roscoe was so so so funny, when she proposed and laid out all the logic of it and he's like, well I don't want to. And then he starts to come around...ha!
Melissa: Seriously – laugh out loud funny! I love how McMurtry is weaving these vignettes throughout the book: This serious/dangerous cattle drive, juxtaposed with this comical, clown-like journey of Roscoe’s. A perfect example of “comic relief.” Leah, I must say, I’m almost jealous that you know what is around the corner! I secretly want to ask you, “so, what happens next??!!”