Chapter 5A few weeks go by and Joe and Shane work harmoniously together. Joe has to go off for two day to herd some cattle, and when he returns he sees that Shane has doubled the size of the corral. When Shane notices that the six steers Joe has brought with him are running off he jumps on Joe’s horse and skillfully herds them into the corral.Bob spends a happy summer at the farm. It even seems that the trouble between Fletcher and the homesteaders has subsided. Fletcher has been gone for much of the time, trying to negotiate some cattle deals to supply beef to the Sioux on the Dakota reservation. Bob notices that Shane enjoys working on the farm and seems to have relaxed a little.One day Bob is playing with a broken old gun Mr. Grafton, owner of the general store, gave him. Shane sees him and tells him the correct way to shoot. Bob asks him if that is the way real gunfighters do it. Shane tells him that each has his own tricks. It is clear that Shane knows what he is talking about. Shane tosses the old gun and catches it, then tosses it again so it spins, and as it comes down he catches it perfectly in a smooth motion and is instantly ready to fire it. He tells Bob more about how to hold the gun and aim it. He also tells Bob that a gun is just a tool and is no better or worse than the man who is using it.
AnalysisIn this chapter Shane reveals from his guidance of Bob that he is an experienced gunslinger. But it also appears that he is not interested in continuing in that kind of life. He thinks of it as being in the past. After telling Bob a lot about how best to shoot, he seems to be lost in thought about “the dark trail of the past.” It is as if he wants to tame his aggression, the violence that, it seems, has marked his past. This is an emerging theme in the novel. Just as Joe must battle with nature (symbolized in the form of the old tree stump), Shane has his own battle too—can he escape the shadow of his past and make a new life for himself?