Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lonesome Dove Character Profile of the Day: Lorena Wood

It is hard not to be enamored of Lorena Wood. She is obviously beautiful. And she is clearly a sweet, good-hearted person. Neither her bad luck with men, nor her hard life as a prostitute have hardened her like it had with other prostitute characters in the story. And you just can't help but ache for her upon reading her treatment while in captivity with the outlaws that Blue Duck turned her over to after he kidnapped her.

McMurtry really captures the innocence, beauty, sorrow, and kindness of Lorena in his characterization of her.

That said, one also can't help feeling very frustrated with her. I know this may sound misogynist, but she sometimes comes across as naive, stubborn, and downright stupid at times. For all of her hardened experience, she doesn't seem to really understand the difficulties or dangers for a woman living in that part of the United States at that time in the country's history. However, in my defense, I think this take on Lorena as a kind of 19th Century "blonde bimbo" is partly how McMurtry wanted to portray her.

I also think it's pretty clear that Lorena is a rather one-dimensional character. Other than some vague idea of her dream of wanting to escape to San Francisco and live a more refined life, we really know very little about her inner workings beyond her confused emotions about Jake and Gus. It is interesting, though, to note that her identity is completely wrapped up in the men around her and who have an interest in her. She, herself, wraps her identity in the male figures of her life. She is not an independent woman, nor is she a very sophisticated or deep-thinking woman. She's actually very simple, which is quite a contrast to both of the other main female characters in the book, Clara and Elmira. Even Elmira was a conflicted and more complex person than Lorena. But perhaps if McMurtry had painted a different picture of Lorena, the reader wouldn't be as sympathetic to her as the "damsel-in-distress" requiring her rescue by the heroic handsome prince that Gus turns out to be.

No comments: