Shane by Jack Schaefer revolves around a family who has settled down in the Western United States during the late 19th century to live a life of farming. Content with their style of living, they are surprised when a stranger on a horse shows up at their house. Unlike any other visitor they have had before, one of the main characters, Bob, becomes fascinated with him. Shane, intending to only get some water and continue on his journey ends up staying for a couple of days so he is able to rest. Despite his father’s hesitations, Bob becomes obsessed with his new role model. Finding him mysterious and adventurous, the young boy finds any excuse to be around the visitor. As issues arise about land disputes, Shane decides to stay with the family to help out with the farming, and help protect their lands.
Personally, the connection between Bob and Shane is similar to what has happened with the kids I help tutor at Guilford Middle Elementary School. Some of the same kids have been coming each week to be tutored and by now, we have known to form friendships with these kids. Being an unexpected friendship, both in the book and in my experience tutoring, both parties are able to learn so much about the other. Some of the girls I have had the opportunity to work with come each week so they can have good grades. On several occasions, they have told me that next year they want to transfer to better schools. They know that by going to another school, they will be able to receive a better education and have the opportunity to attend college.
As the story of Shane unfolds, we discover that Fletcher, a powerful man in who lives in their area, wants to take over all of the farmer’s land so he is able to commercially raise cattle. At this point in the story, Shane decides to live with the family and be paid for his work on the farm. As the drama between Fletcher and the other farmers becomes more of an issue, this is where hints of Shane’s dark past are discovered. When one of Fletcher’s “lackeys” comes to try to get Shane to leave town, he “kept hold of [his] arm and wrenched it sideways and let the weight bear on it and you could hear the bone crack” (77). Although at this point Bob, as well as the readers, are unaware of this character’s dark past, we can assume that he has used tactics like this in the past. Unwilling to tell Bob about his reasons for treating Fletcher’s friend the way he did, Bob wonders about his past and if Shane will ever tell him about it.
This part of the novel really reminded me about my volunteer experience at Guilford. By helping out many of the same students each week, they have come to trust us as friends and tell us about their family lives. For example, some of the students, even though they have great grades, would rather stay after school to be tutored instead of going home. What fascinates me is that in a matter of weeks, I have developed such a bond with the students at Guilford that I was not expecting to happen when I decided to complete the service component of this class. This demonstrates that even the most unlikely of people can come together and forge a friendship that is beneficial to both parties. In the novel, both Shane and Bob benefit from being friends with the other—Shane gains a friend while Bob gains another role model in his life. In my volunteer experience, the students I have the opportunity of helping gain a role model to help them through school while I have the ability to not only help these kids, but myself in the process.