Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, and literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text's major themes.


One of the qualities that make Shane and Joe real men is their loyalty. Shane will always be there for Joe, and Joe will always be there for Shane, a fact of which they are both aware. They never have to worry about being alone, and they never have to worry about fending for themselves. There is a comfortable blanket of assurance that ties them together. The other men in the town serve as a litmus test for loyalty. During the time when Chris is teasing Joe and Shane, many of the farmers begin to lose respect for them and start drifting to Fletcher's point of view. However, by the end they believe that Joe and Shane are right, and even Chris commits to helping the Starretts.


One of the first characteristics Bob notices about Shane is the fact that he never stops watching. Shane sits so that he can see who's coming to the door, and Shane never simply relaxes. Shane's wariness becomes more pronounced as the situation with Fletcher escalates. Even Joe begins to adopt that sort of vigilance, and he and Shane work alongside each other, always watching each other's backs. The vigilance suggests that Shane has been surprised before and will not let that happen again; in other words it suggests experience and wisdom in situations such as these. A real man never gets taken by surprise and is always ready to serve if needed.

Love of a Different Name

For a protagonist in Western fiction, there is a lot of tenderness in Shane. Contrary to most stoic cowboys, he has terribly strong feelings of love for all of the Starretts. The love Marian, Joe, and Bob feel for Shane is of an intensity that most people only feel for members of their immediate family. In fact, Shane does become part of their family—the extent to which they love one another bridges the genetic gap.