Intruder in the Dust

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In William Faulkner’s novel, Intruder in the Dust, racism at the beginning of the civil rights movement is a key theme. During this time period in the South, people were expected to behave a certain way towards those whose skin was different form their own. However, in this novel, William Faulkner defies the norm by creating friendships between those of opposing races. The friendships between Charles Mallison and Lucas Beauchamp, Miss Eunice Habersham and Molly Beauchamp, and Charles Mallison and Aleck Sander were not predictable for this time period, but regardless of their race, they each shared respect and a strong bond between one another.

Charles Mallison, a sixteen year old white boy, goes beyond what he has learned is the right way a white boy should treat a black man when he helps Lucas Beauchamp prove that he is innocent in the Vinson Gowrie murder. At first, Charles only goes back to the jail because he feels he owes Lucas a debt. In chapter one, Lucas had helped Charles when he fell in the creek and fed him as his clothes dried. Charles thought he owed Lucas for his kindness and offered him seventy cents. However, unlike most black men, Lucas took this as an insult and refused to take the money. This incident continued to hang over Charles’s head throughout the next few years until the day he returned to the jail to see what Lucas really needed someone to do for him.

When Charles returned to the jail, his debt to Lucas became much more and turned into respect and friendship. Lucas had asked Charles to dig up the grave of Vinson Gowrie and find out what caliber of bullet killed him. The gun that Lucas owned was a Colt .41 and Charles knew he needed to help him. In chapter eight, after the bodies of Vinson Gowrie and Jake Montgomery had been found, the sheriff concluded that Lucas’s gun was not the one that shot Vinson. Mr. Gowrie then asks, “’What is it killed Vinson, Shurf?’ ‘A German Luger automatic, Mr. Gowrie,’ the sheriff said. ‘Like the one...
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