Monday, November 15, 2010

Unbreakable Bonds

Jack Schaefer’s novel, “Shane,” depicts the power unbreakable bonds. Upon being introduced to the character of Shane at the start of the novel, the reader is impressed with a dark, rough, and dangerous, type of man who seems altogether disconnected, and entirely independent from all things. Schaefer intentionally thrusts these preconceived notions on Shane to contrast his true nature as a man of integrity who builds lasting relationships when given the chance.

On the surface, it is clear that Shane is a confident capable man by his calmly reserved nature. He carries himself with, what others understand as, a knowledge of his own powerful ability to overcome anything he needed to. With this in mind, after accepting an invitation to live and work with the Starrett family, Shane saw no reason to wear his gun and holster. However, when reading the second half of the novel, Schaefer makes it clear that in doing so, the man was attempting to stint an almost natural bond. Describing this relationship finally reunited, Schaefer writes, “Belt and holster and gun... These were not things he was wearing or carrying. They were part of him, part of the man, of the full sum of the integrate force that was Shane.” (241) The bond between shane and his gun is shown as almost biological, as if he could not continue to be who he truly was without it. Schaefer shows the gun as a necessary extension for survival. This unbreakable bond was finally reenacted in the culmination of the story, when it was most vital to preserving another relationship of his, that with the Starrett family.

However strong the call of the gun throughout the story, no relationship compares to that of the unlikely one formed between shane and the Strarrett’s. In contrast from the introduced stranger that Shane appeared to be on day one, he quickly began to assimilate. This relationship only grew stronger and stronger with each day as Shane offered a help on the ranch as well as a sense of security and piece of mind. But it was through all of this that he became more than just a farm hand, and transformed into an adopted member of the family. In reading the second half of the novel I found this to be evident, after Shane secures the Starrett’s place in the valley and has to move on. Schaefer displays the dependent relationship Shane created when Joe hears the news of his departure, writing, “He picked up his pipe and it broke in his fingers. He let the pieces fall and stared at them on the floor.” Even though by Joe’s sheer disappointment the bond is symbolized as broken, he later comes to the realization that this is lasting relationship regardless of Shane’s physical presence. Mariam helps him come to this conclusion when she reassures, “He’s not gone. He’s here, in this place he gave us. He’s all around us and in us, and he always will be.” (270) In not judging Shane by his Dark cover, the Starrett’s give living proof to the power of unbreakable bonds.

I can relate to this story an its impression of lasting relationships. My grandfather was a very stern reserved man who showed little emotion at all accept when around me his first born grandson. He worked for General Motors his whole life, and every saturday morning intense pride and attention to washing the cars in the driveway. Whenever I would visit, he would allow me to join in on the ritual, and he would laugh and tell stories while we detailed the old Cadillacs. To this day my father carries the same tradition of hand washing the vehicles. I am responsible for my own car, and I always think of him and the fun we used to have, showing the power of unbreakable bonds.

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