Chapter 15When Bob gets back home, Mr. Weir explains to Joe, who has recovered consciousness and has a bruise on his head, and Marian what happened at the saloon. He says that Shane is alive but has left the valley and no one knows where he has gone.Chris rushes into the kitchen. He says that as soon as his arm is healed, he wants to work for Joe. Joe is silent, but Marian accepts, saying that Shane would like that. Mr. Weir and Chris leave. Joe, still silent, contemplating what has happened, goes outside.The following morning, Bob and Marian find Joe out at the corral, at the part that Shane had extended. Joe says he is sick of being in the valley and wants to move, maybe to Montana. Marian accuses him of running out on Shane. She takes him to a corner post that Shane put in and challenges him to pull it down. Joe tries but cannot. Marian points out that this shows they have roots right there, in the farm, and they cannot break loose of them. Joe understands.
AnalysisThe incident involving the corner post is symbolically significant. It represents the solidity and permanence of the human impact on the land. Marian’s mention of roots and Joe’s attempt, answering Marian’s challenge, to pull the corner post down puts in mind the earlier battle Joe and Shane had with the old tree stump and its roots. They had to work hard to overcome nature in that respect, and now the old stump and its roots can be contrasted with the corner post: raw nature has given way to the work of human civilization. From tree stump to corner post is a sign of progress.