Shane (novel)

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For other uses, see Shane (disambiguation).
JackSchaefer Shane.jpg
First edition
Author Jack Schaefer
Country United States
Language English
Genre Western
Publisher Houghton Mifflin
Publication date
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 214 p. (hardback first edition) & 119 p. (paperback edition)
ISBN 978-0-553-27110-2 (paperback edition)
OCLC 53183237

Shane is a western novel by Jack Schaefer published in 1949. It was initially published in 1946 in three parts in Argosy magazine, and originally titled Rider from Nowhere.[1] The novel has been translated into over 30 languages,[1] and was adapted into the famous 1953 film starring Alan Ladd.[2]


The story is set in 1889 Wyoming, when the Wyoming Territory was still open to the Homestead Act of 1862.[1] It is narrated by the homesteader's son Bob Starrett. The original unclaimed land surrounding the Starrett's homestead had been used by a cattle driver named Luke Fletcher before being claimed by Bob's father, Joe Starrett, along with many other homesteaders. Luke Fletcher settled there first, although only so much land could be claimed as a homestead (only 160 acres). Luke Fletcher's herd is at the verge of expanding to the point where the homesteads in the area are proving to be an interference.[1]

The title-character Shane is a mysterious stranger who comes into the lives of the homesteaders, and who is tougher and wiser in the ways of the West than the farmers who homestead the land. He is thought to be Shannon, a gunslinger who went missing in Arkansas. Joe Starrett hires Shane as a hand on his farm, and Shane puts aside his handsome Western clothes and buys dungarees. He then helps the homesteaders to avoid intimidation by Fletcher and his men trying to get them to abandon their farms. With Shane's help, the farmers are able to resist Fletcher, but Shane is tested many times by the cowhands and gunslingers hired by Fletcher to intimidate him. Shane always comes through in the end, however, and eventually is forced to kill Fletcher and his men, which prompts him to leave the Wyoming Territory for fear of being labeled a killer.[1]


  • Shane – a mysterious gunslinger who enters into the life of Joe Starrett and his family and carves a place for himself in their hearts. Although he tries to leave his gunslinging past behind, refusing to even carry a gun, he decides to fight Fletcher, the town nemesis, in order to save Joe Starrett’s farm.
  • Bob StarrettJoe Starrett's son. He is eleven years old. He is the protagonist.
  • Joe StarrettBob's Starrett's father. He is a former cattle driver. He is a homesteader and a farmer.
  • Marian StarrettJoe Starrett's wife.
  • Luke Fletcher – the antagonist. He is set on purchasing or stealing all the land rights from the homesteaders and farmers. When the homesteaders refuse he resorts to intimidation and deadly force.
  • Chris – is one of Fletcher's cowhands who intimidates the homesteaders.
  • Stark Wilson – is a gunslinger hired by Fletcher to intimidate the homesteaders and kill those who refuse to sell their land. He kills Ernie Wright.
  • Ernie Wright - one of Stark Wilson's victims.
  • Mr.Grafton - the general store owner who witnesses the fight with Shane involved.
  • Will Atkey - the bartender at Mr. Grafton's general store.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Richard S. Wheeler has written of Shane and its author: "This was Jack Schaefer’s first novel. He preferred in later years to write stories less mythic and more attuned to the real West.... Although he is little known, and the volume of his work is small, he surely ranks as one of this nation’s greatest novelists."[1]

Film and TV adaptations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Wheeler, Richard S. (26 December 2007). "Shane by Jack Schaefer". Saddlebums Western Review. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Andrew, Geoff. "Shane", Time Out Film Guide, Time Out Guides Ltd., London, 2006.
  3. ^ IMDb - "Shane" (1953) Retrieved 2015-08-09
  4. ^ TCM Movie Database - "Shane" (1953) Retrieved 2015-08-09
  5. ^ TCM Movie Database - "Pale Rider" (1985) Retrieved 2015-08-09

External links[edit]