Shane fights dirty.
And I love him for it.
I'm not sure what that says about me, but it's probably nothing good. Anyway, I don't know about you, but I read this chapter twice through all in one lump this afternoon.
"'So you have it all planned,' Shane said softly" (p. 71). Did you ever hear of a neater way of thumbing your nose at someone while sounding perfectly polite? Oh, that line thrills me. I'm getting goosebumps again just remembering it.
And then the fight begins, and what a glorious fight it is! Shane using his smarts and experience and agility against their brute strength, one man holding his own against five for quite some time. And yes, he fights dirty. Knee to the groin here, glass of whiskey to the eyes there, anything he needs to do. It's that willingness to wade in with no holds barred that makes me love Shane so much in this fight -- he keeps nothing back.
But even wonderful, mythical, heroic Shane can't win against five men who also are willing to brawl however necessary. And just in time, in comes our other hero. Joe "was past anger. He was filled with a fury that was shaking him almost beyond endurance" (p. 73). And here's why I love that they cast Van Heflin in that role for the movie version. Because he is a big, barrel-chested man, and he so completely suits this moment of righteous fury where he grabs a man and picks him up over his head and throws him like a straw bale.
Alan Ladd as Shane is small and lithe and quick, just like in the book, and look at that photo above, how Van Heflin towers over him like the mountains behind them, solid and weathered and formidable. My husband (Cowboy) is built a lot like Van Heflin -- broad shoulders, barrel chest, brawny arms, 5'11", big head... anyway, he's as gentle and kind as can be, but I have no doubt (having seen him lifting weights in our basement) that if he wanted to, he would be "big and terrible" like Joe Starrett, could pick up a man and throw him like that.
Okay, enough sappy musing about my husband. Let's just say that if I was Marian, and Cowboy was Joe, my eyes would have been glowing too.
He picked up his drink and savored it, one elbow on the bar, not shoving himself forward into the room's companionship and not withdrawing either, just ready to be friendly if anyone wanted that and unfriendly if anyone wanted that too (p. 69).
He was somehow happy, not in the pleased and laughing way, but happy that the waiting was over and what had been ahead was here and seen and realized and he was ready for it (p. 70).
"Bobby boy, would you have me run away?" (p. 70).
I don't really have any discussion questions today. Unless you want to speculate as to why a meek, mild, quiet woman like me is so attracted to violent stories...