The thing that struck me the most in this first chapter is what a mass of contradictions Shane is. Young Bob's first impression of the faraway stranger is that "there seemed nothing remarkable about him" (p. 1), but a pair of cowhands stop and stare at him, signalling he is remarkable after all. Next, Bob thinks Shane would look frail next to Bob's father, but he also recognizes signs of endurance in Shane. And so on -- Shane is easy and yet tense, dangerous and yet safe. An intriguing man! That little detail about putting a flower in his hatband is most uncommon as well. So genteel, yet he's also cold and terrifying when he's on the defensive. I'm enchanted already.
Bob's mother, Marian, also seems unusual, doesn't she? Bob calls her "an unpredictable woman" (p. 6). He doesn't seem to mean that in a bad way, but more of a "this keeps life interesting" way, don't you think?
Of course, our central conflict gets introduced here as well: Luke Fletcher's big, traditional ranch across the river as opposed to the smaller, more modern spreads like the Starrett place.
The narration of this book always fascinates me. It's told by a grown man remembering what he saw, experienced, thought, and felt as a young boy. I like that it's not condescending about the way little boys behave, but yet doesn't try to make him seem like he understood all grown-up things either. Strikes a nice balance, I feel.
Possible Discussion Questions:
Have you read this before, or seen the 1953 movie version?
What do you think of Shane himself so far? And the other characters -- what can you tell about them from just this first chapter?
How about the narration -- do you like it, or do you wish the author had made a different storytelling choice?
Any guesses as to what's in that saddle-roll that makes Shane take it from Bob and put it out of reach? (I actually don't remember right now -- it's been like ten years since I last read this. I started it this past summer and then had to put it aside.)