Shane: Character

Will Atkey
Will Atkey is the bartender at Sam Grafton’s saloon.

Chris is one of Fletcher’s cowhands, known for his courageous but rather impetuous nature. In the saloon, he tries to pick a fight with Shane but Shane will not rise to the bait. On a second occasion, however, a fight does take place and Chris gets badly beaten up. His arm is broken. Shane seems to respect Chris, though, because of his courage. After the killing of Wilson and Fletcher, and Shane’s departure, Chris tells Joe Starrett that he wants to work for him.

Curly, named for his curly hair, is one of Fletcher’s cowhands. He is powerful but stupid. He goes to the saloon with Morgan and two others in order to beat Shane up. But he ends up a victim himself as Joe enters the fight and throws him hard against a wall.

Luke Fletcher
Luke Fletcher is a cattle rancher in the area. He feels threatened by the increasing number of homesteaders in the valley, because they reduce the amount of land he has available for his cattle. He was there long before they arrived and is the most powerful man in the valley. When he wins a big contract to supply beef to the Sioux, he steps up his campaign to get the homesteaders to leave. He brings in the gunslinger Wilson to get the job done, but the plan misfires when they come up against Shane, who kills them both.

Sam Grafton
Sam Grafton owns the general store in town, which also has a saloon. He is an elderly man who is trustworthy and honest. He serves as a kind of magistrate in minor disputes.

Ed Howells
Ed Howells is one of the homesteaders. He is a middle-aged former cowhand and has not done too well at his new enterprise. Ed is the man who witnesses Shane’s beating of Chris at the saloon, and he tells Joe about it.

Lew Johnson
Along with Henry Shipstead, Lew Johnson was the first homesteader in the valley. Like Shipstead, he is a reliable farmer originally from Iowa.

Jake Ledyard
Jake Ledyard is a peddler who comes to the Starretts every couple of months with goods that cannot be found at the general store in town. He likes to drive a hard bargain and tries to get too much from Joe Starrett for a new cultivator. Shane intervenes by saying that Ledyard is overcharging, and Ledyard lowers the price.

James Lewis
James Lewis is one of the homesteaders. Like Ed Howells, he is a middle-aged former cowhand without much drive or ambition.

Red Marlin
Red Marlin is one of Fletcher’s cowhands. He is in the saloon when Shane beats Chris up. He is also one of the men who later try to beat Shane up, but he runs away when the fight gets tough.

Morgan is Fletcher’s foreman. He is big and powerful with a reputation as a bully. He goes with several other Fletcher men to beat Shane up in the saloon. He gets more than he bargained for, however. When it comes to a straight fight with Shane, Morgan gets the worst of it and is knocked unconscious.

Shane is a mysterious stranger who arrives one day at the Starrett farm. He identifies himself only by his first name and refuses to speak of his past. He is quiet and well-mannered, and Joe and Marian, as well as Bob, take a liking to him. There is something about him that feels dangerous, but the family feels safe with him.  Shane is taken on as a farmhand and he enjoys this line of work, which is new to him. It seems that he is trying to leave his past behind, whatever that might have been, and start anew. However, this proves impossible. Shane gradually becomes involved in the dispute between the homesteaders, especially Joe Starrett, and Luke Fletcher. At first he tries to ignore the provocations but after he is forced into beating Chris up, the violence gradually escalates as Fletcher targets him in an attempt to get Joe to give up his farm. It becomes clear that Shane is a former gunslinger, and in the final shootout he is forced, in order to defend his friends the Starretts, to return to his old ways. He shoots and kills Stark Wilson and Fletcher, and is wounded in the process. He rides off, his mission accomplished, and does not return.

Henry Shipstead
Henry Shipsteadis one of the two original homesteaders in the valley. Like Lew Johnson, he is a dependable farmer who moved to Wyoming Territory from Iowa.

Bob Starrett
Bob Starrett is the narrator of the novel who looks back at the events that took place when he was eleven years old. Bob is the son of Joe and Marian Starrett. Bob forms a close attachment to Shane. He looks up to him as much as to his father as a role model, and Shane returns the affection. At one point, using a broken pistol that Sam Grafton gave Bob, Shane shows him the best way to wield a gun. Bob never forgets Shane, who taught him how to live a life of strength, authenticity, and courage.

Joe Starrett
Joe Starrett is the devoted husband of Marian and father of Bob. He is a vigorous, capable, upright man who is determined to succeed at farming. The other homesteaders regard him as their leader. He quickly develops great respect for Shane and hires him to work on the farm. Joe comes to depend on Shane, regarding him as an equal partner and trusting him without reservations. Several times he offers the opinion that Shane is a superior man. Joe plays an active role in the conflict with Fletcher, helping Shane out in the fight at the saloon. But Shane will not let him go to the final confrontation, because he knows (as does Joe) that Joe is not quick enough on the draw to kill Wilson.

Marian Starrett
Marian Starrett is Joe’s wife. She is slender and fair, with brown hair. She is a wonderful cook and prides herself on it. When times get hard, cooking reminds her that she is still civilized. She formerly lived in New England and was a schoolteacher. Marian is a loyal wife; Joe dotes on her and would do anything to please her. She also takes a liking to Shane. She is an astute woman who understands him. The affection she feels for him grows into love for, but she loves her husband too and there is never a hint of any impropriety, although at one point (after she has witnessed Joe and Shane beat up Fletcher’s men in the saloon) she seems troubled by the fact that two men have a claim on her affections. When Shane thinks of moving on, she insists that he stays, because Joe needs the farm, and he cannot keep it without Shane’s help. Later, after Shane has gone and Joe wants to move to Montana, it is Marian who insists that they stay.

Frank Torrey
Frank Torrey is one of the homesteaders. He is a nervous man with a difficult wife and many children. He often talks about moving to California but he is also stubborn and doesn’t like to be bullied out of his home by Fletcher.

Mr. Weir
Mr. Weir keeps the stage post in town. He is a friendly man who offers to take a collection to pay for the damage to the saloon after the fight between Shane, Joe, and Fletcher’s men. He also wants to get closer to the homesteaders.

Stark Wilson
Stark Wilson is a gunfighter who came to Cheyenne via Kansas, where he killed three men. Before that he likely killed other men in the southwest territories. Wilson is tall and walks with something of a swagger. He is brought to the town by Luke Fletcher as a way of putting pressure on the homesteaders to leave. Wilson goads Ernie Wright into a gun duel in the saloon and kills him. But he is no match for Shane, who kills him in a later duel in the saloon.

Ernie Wright
Ernie Wright is one of the homesteaders. He is a likable man but does not like to work too hard, preferring to go off hunting. He also has a quick temper which sometimes gets him into trouble. He is killed by Stark Wilson in a gunfight at the saloon.