Captain Augustus McCrae: Character Connection

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Cover of Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

In Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove, Captain Augustus “Gus” McCrae, late of the Texas Rangers, has retired to life on a cattle ranch. His partner, Captain Woodrow Call, does all the work and Gus does all the drinking and talking. Gus is happy that way and, truth be told, so is Captain Call. Gus sits around and drinks all day, watching everyone else work, then ambles into town at night for a game of cards and/or a visit with the town prostitute, Lorie. Gus would be pretty content spending the rest of his days this way.

When Captain Call decides that he’s going to uproot everyone and drive a herd of cattle to Montana, Gus loudly huffs and puffs and complains, but he goes right along with him. And that’s when we get to see what kind of man Gus really is. The man who’s happy lazing around the ranch is definitely a part of him, but he is at his best in a saddle and on a trail.

He talks and talks and talks to anyone who will listen and to many who wish he’d shut up. His sense of humor cracked me up! He doesn’t let reclusive Captain Call withdraw completely. He keeps up the spirits of the younger men. He gives a few inspirational talks, but mostly he just aggravates them until they do what he thinks they should do.

He has a very strong, well-defined sense of right and wrong. He does not hesitate to enforce the law, even when it would be easier to let things slide. Personal loyalties do not come before his oath to uphold order.

Robert Duvall as Gus McCrae

He’s had many love affairs and even a couple of marriages, but the woman he thinks of almost constantly is Clara. She’s the “one that got away.” He is determined to stop and see her in–Kansas, I think–as they pass through. He lost her one time and he’s determined to have another chance with her.

Knowing that Clara won his heart says a lot about him. She is independent, strong, and feisty. Gus wouldn’t want a woman who heard his every word as law. He likes a good argument and Clara gives them to him. They’re a good match.

But Gus really won my heart in his handling of Lorie. She winds up on the cattle drive too and his treatment of her was, well, gallant. She hasn’t had an easy life but he always treats her as a lovely friend rather than a prostitute. When she gets down, he cheers her up and makes her laugh. Her story arc is one of the harder ones to read and Gus is the one who saves her, in pretty much every way it’s possible for one human being to save another. While Gus McCrae lived, chivalry was not dead, even if it did come in the form of a rough and ready cowboy.

Robert Duvall portrayed Gus in the mini-series, and he was absolutely perfect in the part. I knew he would be good but I was thrilled as I watched it. He knew what I loved about Gus and he caught it.

Who have you connected with recently? Link your post on Mr. Linky, then be sure to go check out the other Character Connections!

Character Connection meme hosted at The Introverted Reader

Who do ya love?

Or love to hate?

You know you’ve got a lot to say about some larger-than-life characters, and this is the place to say it. Write a straightforward post. Draw a picture. Vlog, write poetry, write fiction, cast the role, be as creative as you want!

Be sure to post the book’s title and author, and be very careful not to give away spoilers while talking about how much you love your characters.

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1 Comment

  1. +JMJ+

    I haven't read Lonesome Dove, but I've seen a few scenes from the mini-series and Robert Duvall was quite memorable!

    In general, I like it when a character we think we know suddenly shows a new side to himself in a different situation, especially if the new situation lets him be in his real element. =)

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