Chris spreads the word in town that Shane backed down from a fight, which gives Fletcher and advantage. His men start to ride by the homesteaders’ land and insult them. The homesteaders are upset, and Henry Shipstead and Ernie Wright argue with Joe in the kitchen of the Starrett home. They are losing confidence in Joe and blame Shane for the deteriorating situation.
Shane rides up. He has been in town, and he says that Chris will not be bothering them any more. Ed Howells arrives and tells the story of what happened. Shane had been in the saloon and had bought Chris a soda pop. Angry, Chris threw the bottle at Shane. A fight broke out and Shane quickly beat Chris up, breaking his arm in the process. Chris was rendered unconscious, but Shane picked him up, laid him gently on a table and wiped the blood from his face.
Joe is pleased to hear this story, but Marian reproaches him for getting Shane mixed up in the trouble. She thinks Shane has been harmed by it.
Finally, the violence that has been simmering breaks out in the open. Shane is a skilled fighter and Chris has no chance against him. But it is Marian who sees the real significance of what has taken place. Shane appears to be losing his battle to forge a new life for himself. He is being drawn into a conflict in which the use of deadly force may be required. He cannot step back from it now. In the early part of the chapter, it seemed as if he might. He had no regrets about not starting a fight with Chris in the first incident. He did not care what people thought of him. Bob explains, “Since his session with Chris he seemed to have won a kind of inner peace. . . . There was a serenity in him that had erased entirely the old tension.”