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Free Online Study Guide-Shane by Jack Schaefer-BookNotes Summary/Synopsis
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Bob, Starrett's young son, remembers seeing a stranger riding into the valley where he lives in Wyoming. As the stranger nears the house of his parents, the boy notices the horseman's fine clothes, which have magnificence about them even though they are not new. The boy notices that the man who wears the fancy clothes is quite frail in comparison to the considerable hulk of his own father. Bob also detects an air of tension about the stranger.

As the stranger draws near, Joe Starrett, Bob's father, comes forward. The stranger asks him for permission to use the water pump. When permission is granted, the stranger leads his horse to the water for a drink and also takes a drink himself. When the stranger gives thanks for the water and readies to leave, Joe detains him, inviting him to share their meal and spend the night in their house. The stranger quietly accepts the generous offer and introduces himself only by his first name, Shane.

Marian, Joe's wife, quickly sets another plate on the table for the stranger. As they eat their meal, Bob's parents try to gather information about Shane, but he offers no explanations. In spite of his silent ways, the Starretts like the stranger. After dinner, Joe even discusses with Shane his plans for his farm. He also mentions Fletcher, his archenemy, who is bent on taking over his land.

After Shane is made comfortable in the barn for the night, Joe and Marian discuss him. They both agree that he has a mysterious manner, but they like him in spite of it.


In this first chapter, the key characters of the novel are introduced, including Shane, Marian and Joe Starrett, and their young son, Bob. From the beginning the narrative is told in first person, with the young Bob serving as the speaker. His innocent, immature attitude while telling the story lends a certain charm to the novel.

Although not much information is learned about Shane in this first chapter, it is obvious that this stranger who rides on to the Starrett farm is not a simple farmer or rancher. He is dressed in fine clothes, even though they are not new. There is also an aura of tension and mystery about him as he says little about himself. In fact, he only introduces himself to the Starretts as Shane, not giving a last name.

Bob is immediately attracted to this mysterious stranger. The fact that he is well-dressed and seems to ride in the valley from nowhere makes him seem like the epitome of mystery, danger, and excitement to Bob's young mind. Joe Starrett, however, immediately trusts this stranger. He allows him to take water from the pump and then offers him a meal and a bed in the barn for the night. It is obvious that Joe does not judge this stranger as dangerous. He is a trusting and hospitable man.

During the meal that Marian serves, she and Joe try to find out information about this mysterious stranger, but he volunteers nothing. In spite of Shane's silence, Joe continues to trust him, telling him about the future plans for his farm and about his archenemy, Fletcher. After Shane retires to the barn for the night, Marian and Joe discuss this stranger further. It seems that Joe has an idea about Shane's past, for he says, "He [Shane] is a special brand we sometimes get out here in the grass country...A bad one's poison. A good one's straight grain clear through." Young Bob is confused by his father's word, and the reader is also left wondering about Shane's background at the end of the chapter.

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