Book Review: Shane

Posted Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 7:24pm

This is for the cowboys and ranchers and everyone looking for a quick western genre. “Shane” is a bar fighting, gun slinging, showdown classic written by Jack Schaefer that begins when a mysterious stranger comes to town. A western classic about a battle for territory and pride, “Shane” is an ultimate tale about the spirit of the West.

If a dangerous stranger wandered into your town, would you invite him in? That’s exactly what homesteader Joe Starrett does when hane stay for dinner. The family—Joe, his wife Marian; and his son Bob—get along well with their new guest and Shane is invited to stay for the rest of the planting season.

All is going well until Fletcher appears. A greedy rancher, Fletcher sends his henchmen to bully Joe into selling his land to him. His first tactics are to tease and shame the ranchers into selling.

But when one of the henchmen crosses the line with Shane, a traditional bar fight ensues. Fletcher must step it up if he wants to intimidate the shadowy Shane, who takes down the henchmen easily.

However, Fletcher begins to threaten the rancher more seriously, going so far as to hire his own gunman to goad the farmers into taking matters into their own hands. Will Shane continue to fight for a cause he has little chance of winning and has nothing to do with him?

Through the eyes of young Bob, Shane is a dark angel, sent to save their ranch. He idolizes “Shane”, but little does our protagonist realize how dangerous his angel truly is.

As a reader, the entire story comes from the viewpoint of a 10 year old. Bob doesn’t understand the relationship that has developed between Shane and Marian, or the stout friendship that has sprouted with his father and Shane.

What makes this western showdown different from the rest is the depth and emotion that goes into the character of Shane.

Wildly conflicted, Shane continually battles within himself, trying to balance his matchless skill with a gun and his attempt at peaceful living.

But it’s hard to be gifted with a weapon and live a quiet life. The hero has contradictions he struggles with, and something from Shane’s past continues to haunt him as the story continues. But what exactly is he so desperately trying to escape from?

“The author has created a tale which captivates the reader’s attention from beginning to end,” Library Journal acknowledges. “His skill in depicting a character, a situation, or a mood, with a minimum of words, gives the story a tightly-woven quality often lacking in present-day novels. The book almost demands completion in one sitting.”

“Shane” is a quick read but is filled with depth and development behind each character as we follow Shane into his dark secrets that he desperately tries to escape, the fight he has now taken up to protect a friend and proves to himself that he isn’t as corrupt as he believes.

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