Shane : Summary: Chapter 3
The two men continue to attack the stump. Marian approaches them. She has adapted one of her hats to match the style Shane told her about. The men stop work to look at her. Shane confirms that she has the style right except that the brim should be wider. Joe compliments her in a general way but says nothing about the hat.He tells her they are busy, which makes his wife angry. She tells them that the midday meal is ready. After dinner Marian forgets her anger. The two men return to chop away at the stump. In mid-afternoon, Marian bakes some biscuits and takes them to Shane and Joe. They take a break and then return to their task. Finally, the stump begins to move. With an almighty effort, Joe manages to lift it slightly, while Shane continues to work with the axe. Then they both work with their axes, as Marian and Bob watch. They finally manage to get the stump out, and it lies on its side.
Marian, however, has been so engrossed in watching the men finally defeat the old stump that she has let her apple pie burn. She is angry with herself for her mistake. She is determined to bake a new one, and she starts to peel some more apples straightaway. The men eat their dinner, and eventually the new pie is ready. Both Joe and Shane declare it to a very fine pie.
This chapter provides another example of how the author builds up the tension regarding Shane, without having to create any specific incidents. There is just something about Shane’s manner, the way he carries himself, that can be a bit frightening. Bob tell his mother he was scared of what might have happened when the peddler insulted Shane. Marian shares Bob’s apprehension, although she likes Shane personally. The feeling is that Shane, although safe to the Starretts, could in certain situations be a very dangerous man. Schaefer builds tension in this way and engages the reader’s attention. The reader is drawn into the story and wants to find out who this mysterious man is.
The incident with the biscuits is symbolic. Joe is careful to divide the biscuits equally between himself and Shane. Even though there is an odd number of biscuits, he splits the last one into two pieces so the share each man has is exactly equal. This shows that he regards Shane as an equal partner in his work trying to uproot the stump. It also suggests symbolically that whatever force or quality Shane represents is vitally important for Joe’s work. Joe cannot succeed in his own task of building up the farm without harnessing whatever it is that Shane brings to the job. The reader does not yet know precisely what that it is, although later chapters will reveal it to a more primitive force than what Joe represents—the use of brutality and deadly force.
Marian shows she is equally determined as the men. She makes a mistake on the pie but corrects it immediately, doing whatever has to be done to produce the perfect pie she had in mind. She is conquering nature in her own way, just as the men did. She takes what nature produces and turns it into delicious food. Shane recognizes that for her, the pie is the equivalent of what the stump was to him and Joe. These two incidents together—the uprooting of the stump and the baking of the pie—show not only the determined nature of the individual characters involved but also symbolically represent the human push towardprogress and civilization, the triumph over raw nature.