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Free Online Study Guide-Shane by Jack Schaefer-BookNotes Summary/Synopsis
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Author Information

Jack Warner Schaefer was born on November 19, 1907, in Cleveland Ohio, to Carl Walter and Minnie Luella Schaefer. He attended public schools, where he was a good student. After high school graduation, Schaefer attended Oberlin College, from where he graduated in 1929. For the next year, he did graduate studies at Columbia University. He married Eugenia Hammond Ives in August of 1931. They had three sons and one daughter before they divorced in December of 1948.

Schaefer's career was devoted to working for various newspapers. His first position was as a reporter for United Press, where he worked from 1930 - 1931. He next worked as an editor for the New Haven Journal-Courier from 1931 - 1942; simultaneously, he served as the assistant director of education for the Connecticut State Reformatory. From 1942 until 1949, he served in editorial positions at the Baltimore Sun, the Norfolk Virginian, and the Shoreliner. He left newspaper work in 1949 to pursue a full-time career in fiction writing. In 1949, he also married Louise Wilhide Deans.

Schaefer's first and most successful novel, Shane, was published in 1949; four years later it was made into a successful movie. First Blood, his second novel, and a book of short stories entitled The Big Range were published in 1953. The next year Schaefer published The Canyon and another book of stories entitled The Pioneers. In 1955, he published Out West: An Anthology of Stories, followed by Company of Cowards in 1957. In the 1960's, Schaefer published Old Ramon, The Plainsmen, Monte Walsh, The Great Endurance Horse Race, Stubby Pringle's Christmas, Heroes without Glory, Collected Stories, Adolphe Francis Alphonse Bandelier, Short Novels, Mavericks, and Hal West: Western Gallery. His work from the 1970's included An American Bestiary and Conversations with a Pocket Gopher and Other Outspoken Neighbors.

He was honored with a distinguished achievement award from the Western Literature Association in 1975, and Shane was named the Best Western Novel by Writers of America in 1985.

Schaefer died in 1991 at age 83 in Santa Fe, New Mexico, his adopted hometown.

Shane (1949)
First Blood (1953)
The Big Range (1953) (short stories)
The Canyon (1953)
The Pioneers (1954) (short stories)
Out West: An Anthology of Stories (1955) (Editor)
Company of Cowards (1957)
The Kean Land and Other Stories (1959)
Old Ramon (1960)
Tales from the West (1961)
Incident on the Trail (1962)
The Plainsmen (1963)
Monte Walsh (1963)
The Great Endurance Horse Race: 600 Miles on a Single Mount, 1908, from Evanston, Wyoming, to Denver (1963)
Stubby Pringle's Christmas (1964)
Heroes without Glory: Some Goodmen of the Old West (1965)
Collected Stories (1966)
Adolphe Francis Alphonse Bandelier (1966)
New Mexico (1967)
The Short Novels of Jack Schaefer (1967)
Mavericks (1967)
Hal West: Western Gallery (1971)
An American Bestiary (1973)
Conversations with a Pocket Gopher and Other Outspoken Neighbors (1978)
Jack Schaefer and the American West: Eight Stories (1978)
The Collected Stories of Jack Schaefer (1985)


Although written in 1949, Shane is set in the very early twentieth century and belongs to the genre of literature known as the Western novel. Set in Wyoming, on the far reaches of the frontier, it portrays a small, rough Western town and a group of hard- working farmers who have homesteaded their land. They are portrayed in the typical western fashion, riding horses, toting guns, and possessing fierce pride.

They do not trust outsiders, and when Shane arrives in town, all the townsfolk but the Starretts are suspicious of him. In fact, he must beat up a man to prove his worth to them. In the end, he wins their admiration by starting a gunfight and killing two men, who are the nemesis of the farmers. In typical Western fashion, the novel is filled with adventure.

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