It seems inevitable that Joe will go to Grafton’s saloon that night and tell Fletcher no. But he will also have to face Wilson. Joe says that if Wilson is killed, Fletcher will be defeated. Joe adds that he cannot beat Wilson on the draw, but he hopes that although he will be shot first, he will have enough strength in him to shoot Wilson as well.
But Shane has other ideas. He fetches his gun and dons belt and holster. He tells Joe he has some business in town to attend to. Joe says no. It is his battle, and he does not want Shane to take it on. The two men argue about it. Shane takes his gun and hits Joe on the side of the head with it, knocking him unconscious. He tells Marian that Joe will be all right in a while. Marian knows why Shane had to do it, but she also wants to know whether Shane is taking on Wilson because of her. She is referring to the affection that exists between them, which may even be love on her part. Shane says no. Then he leaves the house.
This is the moment of truth for Shane. It is the moment he realizes that he is the one who has to act. He cannot leave it to Joe because he knows he is the only one who is fast enough with a gun to kill Wilson. It means that his attempt to leave his past behind has failed. He does not reach this decision without a struggle, though, as Bob describes it: “His hands were clenched tightly and his arms were quivering. His face was pale with the effort shaking him. He was desperate with an inner torment, his eyes tortured by thoughts that he could not escape.” But once he has made the decision, calmness returns to him. He is at peace with himself, knowing what he has to do. It is also clear from Marian’s question at the end of the chapter (“Are you doing this just for me?”) that she and Shane share some deep feelings for each other that might even be called love. But these feelings remain unstated.