Reflecting back on Shane, life in the West was fairly isolated compared to the way that we live now when many people will pass by our houses throughout the day. during the late 1800s many people were moving west, but there were not highly populated areas like those in the East. This isolation felt in the West plays a part in the Starretts’ acceptance of a lone stranger into their home. Not having many pass by their home the reason why the Starretts’ were welcoming to this man who may have been dangerous. However, they soon learned that he was a respectable man who was not a danger to them. Shane impressed each of the Starretts’ with his skill and charm that made him someone not to be afraid of, but to model themselves after. One of the qualities that was most respectable about Shane to the Starretts’ was his loyalty to helping them in their time of need.
Loyalty is one of the overarching topics that stood out to me while reading Shane because it played a role in his interactions with the Starrett’s. In the very beginning of the book after Shane arrives, Joe Starrett told Bob and Marian, “He’s dangerous all right. …But not to us, my dear … In fact, I don’t think you ever had a safer man in your house.”(Shaefer 10). This comment made by Joe shows that he recognizes that Shane is a respectable man who although could kill, would not harm those who were kind to him. Joe and Shane quickly become good friends as they see the man that they want to be reflected in each other. Together they are able to accomplish the difficult task of digging up the stump and confronting Fletcher who has become a menace in the town as he tries to buy out all the farmers. Their loyalty to one another is why they are able stand up to Fletcher.
In addition to Joe’s loyalty to Shane, Marian is confronted with a dilemma that challenges her loyalty to Joe as she develops feelings for Shane. When these feelings become obvious in Chapter 10 as Marian cries after dressing Shane’s wounds, Joe does not get angry with her as many would expect. Instead he says, “Don’t fret yourself, Marian. I’m man enough to know a better when his trail meets mine. Whatever happens will be all right.” (Schaefer 102). It is interesting that he would react this way since many stories dramatize any infidelity by having a character become jealous, hurt, or angry when another person is introduced. Joe’s reaction is peaceful and accepting of the situation as he too has recognized the respectable qualities in Shane that attract Marian. Marian’s tears are caused by her feelings towards Shane that conflict with being a dedicated wife to Joe.
In the end, the loyalty of the Starrett family to Shane’s memory is important to acknowledge. After Shane leaves, Joe decides that they should move on as well. Marian is against this as she says “we have roots here now that we can never tear loose.” (Schaefer 149). The roots that the Starrett family were able to create were because of Shane’s efforts to protect them from Fletcher. Marian recognizes that if they left after everything that happened, Shane’s efforts would be in vain. In order to respect Shane’s memory, they must stay on their ranch for the Starretts’ were the only ones in town who knew the real story of Shane.
The loyalty that each of these characters had to one another sets an example for Bob of how one should act. As Bob narrates, he watched his father and Shane accomplish digging out the stump that his father was unable to accomplish on his own and stand up to Fletcher. These things that Shane and Joe were able to accomplish together highlighted the respectable qualities of Joe that may have gone unappreciated by Bob in the past. Noticing respectable qualities in a parent can be difficult when the way they act becomes a norm to the child. Having Shane there with the same respectable qualities as Joe, plus his mysteriousness and heroic acts made Shane stand out as a role model for Bob. Shane’s dedicated efforts to protect the Starrett family despite having just met them is one of the reasons that Shane was a real hero to Bob and deserved the loyalty he received from Marian and Joe.
Work Cited Schaefer, Jack. Shane. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1954. Print.