Shane : Summary: Chapter 4
At breakfast the next morning, Bob realizes that Shane will soon be gone, and he desperately wants him to stay. Joe starts talking to Shane about his farm, about how he is just a beginner but really wants to develop it. But there is too much work for one man. Shane agrees to stay on as a farmhand to help Joe before winter comes on. Joe is confident he has made a good hiring decision even though his wife is doubtful, because Shane has no experience farming and may not like what it entails.
Shane goes to town to buy new clothes. He soon shows himself to be an excellent worker. Although smaller than Joe, he is strong and well coordinated in his movements, with sudden bursts of concentrated energy when required. Young Bob becomes very attached to him and looks up to him. He notes that Shane always sits where he can see who is coming into the house. He never sits with his back to the door. He never sits by a window. He is always alert, aware of what is happening around him. Bob is still puzzled by Shane, and the people in town are curious about him, too. What puzzles Bob most is that Shane does not carry a gun, unlike everyone else in the town. But Bob also knows that Shane does possess a gun, because he saw it in Shane’s saddle-roll in his bunk in the barn one day. The gun is a single-action Colt. Bob wonders why Shane does not wear it, since it is a gun to be proud of. He asks his father about it, but Joe, who is not at all surprised that Shane has a gun, tells Bob never to ask Shane about it. Shane is entitled to privacy on such matters.
This chapter focuses on further developing the mystery of Shane. There is something magnificent and pure about Shane that leads Joe to trust him and Bob to look up to him, but there are also hints of Shane’s capacity for violence. An ominous feeling is being developed that some explosion involving Shane may be brewing somewhere. Joe is certain that Shane is a highly skilled gunman, although Shane has promised him that he is not on the run from the law. But it seems there may well have been some violence in his past. In town, the men are wary of him, not knowing what to think. One man in town says that Shane is “like one of these here slow-burning fuses. . . . quiet and no sputtering. So quiet you forget it’s burning. Then it sets off one heck of a blow-off of trouble when it touches powder. That’s him.”