Jake Spoon (Character in the Spotlight): Rake, Rambler, Even Killer… But Bad?

Jake’s appearance that sunny morning on the Hat Creek Ranch, accompanying Deets on his way back from town, is the spark that ignites the firestorm of events that affect every character in the Lonesome Dove saga.  After ten years of separation from his fellow rangers, the affable Jake returns to his friends, a wanted man himself.

Over breakfast, Jake shares more than just food with the men.  Brilliantly played by Robert Urich, he relates that he has shot a dentist by mistake in Fort Smith, Arkansas, who also turned out to be the mayor.  And through a grinning mouthful of food, comments that the mayor was no match for a buffalo gun.  It was all a mistake, as he got into it with a gambler, shot, and the bullet went through the wall, killing the mayor who was walking down the street.  Even though all listening seemed to think it was an accident and could be easily explained, Jake says he wasn’t going to hang around to find out.

Here we see a great example of his compulsive nature, and unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.  But this action has already begun to shift and ultimately change the lives of several of Fort Smith’s townsfolk, such as July Johnson, the sheriff and mayor’s brother and his family, and deputy, Roscoe.  Jake also kindles the flame of possible adventure, discovery and great profit when he describes the vast grassy, virtually untouched, plains of Montana.  this is the conversation that sets the whole story into motion.

Woodrow, who doesn’t seem to be particularly receptive to others’ ramblings, takes this revelation very seriously, and a dream begins to form in his mind.  Later, as the crew begins their workday, Gus and Jake, both legendary (it seems)womanizers, drinkers, and men of more pleasurable pursuits, proceed to pull on a jug together.  Gus, suddenly nostalgic, asks Jake had he run into Clara, the sweetheart of his younger years, whom he almost married several times, but who was married to another man.  Jake tweaks his interest, telling Gus that he had run into her outside a store in Ogallala,’but she was not as pretty as she once was’.  No matter to Gus, as seeing her again would be the dream that spurs him along when Woodrow suggests they drive the cattle to Montana.

As the decision to go to Montana is soon presented by Captain Call, Jake agrees to go along as guide and drover.  But, as things, unfold, he takes up with and captivates the heart of the beautiful Lorena, the whore at the Dry Bean Saloon. She is looking for a way out and Jake’s ability to persuade her, not only that he will take care of her, but also take her to San Francisco, changes her future forever.

As the drive begins, Jake’s immature, unpredictable, and undependable nature shows through loud and clear as he begins the trip with Lorie.  As his drunken and surly nature takes over, he soon ends up leaving her alone to go gamble.  She is kidnapped by Blue Duck and he comes back blaming the boys for her disappearance.  Once again he is never able to take responsibility for his part in any of the disastrous events that occur.  He leaves the drive angrily, presumably to look for her, but ends up in another town with another whore.  After she murders a client, he takes off with a bad band of outlaws ( to get through the territories, he later says).  The next time the captains and the boys see Jake, they are fixing to hang him for a string of crimes that he never really participated in–but was there.  Was he ever really bad? As he told the boys, at his end, ‘You know me boys, I never meant no harm’. And I really don’t think he did!

What are your thoughts on Jake Spoon?

Comments

  1. Riley Stewart says:

    No jake wasn’t bad he was a lot like Gus and as they said a (protocol) to Call but his downfall was he was weak by himself, when it came time to stand for what was right or wrong, knowing what was right he couldn’t find it in himself to die for it when he should have been willing too! When they hanged him he went out with honor though, in the presents of his friends and heros, he realized that there are some things that are more important than just living! You have to stand for something! Call and Gus live bye an unsaid code( one of honor and righteousness, selflessness, godliness) and when you live by it that means you die by it know matter the situation!!!! Do you or can you live by this unsaid code? I do because that’s the only way!!!

  2. R. COLLINS says:

    CAN’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT JAKE SPOON, THAT WOULD IMPROVE ON YOUR DISCRIPTION

  3. B.Golden says:

    Jake was an Old West adrenaline junkie. That the adventure occasionally lead him on the wrong side of the law was merely an accepted occupational hazard to him. What I found most interesting was that life long law men Gus & Call had no problem with Jake being wanted for murder in Ark. He was their friend and they accepted his explanation w/o question. But later took a hard line and refused to accept his explanation in the Indian Territory. Kind of makes one wonder if Gus was influenced by his disapproval of Jake’s treatment/abandonment of Lorena. Whom he clearly had feeling for.

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