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Shane

Jack Schaefer

Important Quotations Explained

Chapters 13–14

Key Facts

"He's dangerous all right." Father said it in a musing way. Then he chuckled. "But not to us, my dear … In fact, I don't think you ever had a safer man in your house."

This is one of the first statements anyone makes about Shane. Joe's perception in Chapter 1 is insightful and proves true. The quote itself sets up the dichotomy that is Shane—dangerous yet safe at the same time. The rest of the book attempts to explain that dichotomy, exemplifying the situations in which Shane is dangerous and in which he is safe. Basically, Shane is only dangerous if someone has wronged him and/or threatened him, but when that happens he is not just dangerous, but deadly.

He was a man like father in whom a boy could believe in the simple knowing that what was beyond comprehension was still clean and solid and right.

This quote from Chapter 2 occurs when Joe and Shane are working at chopping down the stump. The sentiment in the quote comes from Bob and reflects his realization that Shane is both a man and a hero. Shane represents something simple and good and Bob picks up on that immediately. Part of it is the manual labor which carries a sense of sincerity and goodness and the other part is Shane himself, working so doggedly to help Joe.

Don't fret yourself, Marian. I'm man enough to know a better when his trail meets mine. Whatever happens will be all right.

It is not until Chapter 10, just after Shane and Joe's fight in the bar that anyone voices the feelings between Shane and Marian. Marian dresses Shane's wounds and then bursts into tears, and Joe knows exactly why. This scene demonstrates a tenderness and closeness between Joe and Marian. He is able to put into words the reason for her tears, and he is able to voice what she is feeling, even though it is not quite concrete. Joe's understanding of Marian's feelings is remarkable—he does not accuse her of infidelity or get angry or jealous. Instead he assures her that everything will be okay. Joe's method of dealing with his exemplifies the fact that he is a man who is honest and trusting and in the end will make everything okay. His response is exactly what one would expect Shane's response to be were their positions reversed.

I can't really explain it, Joe. But I just know that we're bound up in something bigger than any one of us and that running away is the one thing that would be worse than whatever might happen to us.

Marian says this in Chapter 11 in a conversation about whether or not it would be better to simply accept Fletcher's money and leave the farm. It is interesting that she is the one who speaks adamantly against accepting the offer, but she taps into something that they all know is true. She knows that this situation is a microcosm of right and wrong for all of them, and that in order to put the situation behind them and move forward they all must do the right thing. As an example for Bob they have to stand up and face Fletcher, and in order to live with themselves they must overcome the problem rather than succumb to it. Marian very rarely speaks out in situations like this—throughout the book Joe and Shane both launch into explanations about why they should or should not do something. Marian recognizes that how they proceed in this situation is actually more important than it appears, and she speaks strongly about doing the right thing, even if it is hard or risky.

A man is what he is, Bob, and there's no breaking the mold. I tried that and I've lost. But I reckon it was in the cards from the moment I saw a freckled kid on a rail up the road there and a real man behind him, the kind that could back him for the chance another kid never had.

At the end of Chapter 14, after Shane kills both Fletcher and Wilson, Bob tries to get him to stay. Shane says he must go but is characteristically matter-of- fact about it. Shane is not happy with the fact that he had to kill two men and even questions his manhood. To him, a man is not someone who takes life or anything else away from someone, and even though he was provoked and threatened he does not think that what he did is justified. He leaves because he does not want people thinking of him as a killer—he especially wants the Starretts to remember him as a real man. He also refers to Joe as a "real man," especially when compared to himself. Shane reminds Bob to appreciate his father and suggests that even if Shane's absence Bob still has a real hero and real man to look up to. Shane leaves Bob with the idea that he is lucky indeed to have a father like Joe and instead of bemoaning the loss of Shane to feel lucky for what and whom he does have.

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