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Shane represents Schaefer's beliefs regarding what makes a man and what we should admire in people we consider heroes. Shane is not the average gunslinger—he does not like to fight, and he does not even carry a gun. Rather, he is loyal and minds his own business, fighting only if it is unavoidable. He is quiet and does not brag or even talk about himself much at all. It appears that Shane has been around the block a time or two, having visited many parts of the country and been involved in many dangerous situations—part of the reason he is so accurate when he predicts what Fletcher will do is because this is not a new situation to him. Shane does not seem to be afraid of anything and never shirks a responsibility, even if it is one that could get him killed.
Shane loves Joe, Marian, and Bob and would do anything at all for any of them. He teaches Bob about becoming a man, encouraging Bob not to let people like Chris goad him into fighting. He also does not carry a gun, teaching Bob that strength and power do not come from the equipment one carries, but from within. He represents a firmness and dependability that everyone in the Starrett family grows to depend on. When Shane is around there is a general feeling of well being and that nothing harmful can occur. He is the very personification of stability.
It is difficult to find explicit proof of Shane's feelings for the Starretts. He does not talk much—the only dialogue he has are the very brief exchanges he has with Marian. Instead, Shane is a man of action. His feelings are apparent in how hard he works for the family and the fact that he is their protector. He does not complain once throughout the entire book, even after he is injured or shot. He is a man who interfaces with the world in a matter-of-fact manner, demonstrating the utmost integrity at all times. Schaefer creates such a perfect hero that there is no observable flaw in Shane's character.