The Reivers

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"The Test of Morality"

Throughout American Literature we often see in the works of writers, how the character are torn between doing what is right and doing what is wrong. Like the transcendentalist who believed that experience was valuable way of learning, we also see in the works of William Faulkner's The Reivers as well as in Nathaniel Hawthorne's "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," we see elements of this belief. In my paper I will discuss the major themes of The Reivers and My Kinsman, Major Molineux." I will also show how the main characters in each will use their free will overcome their conflict of doing right or wrong and and discuss how they are similar and how they differ.

William Faulkner's The Reivers is a story of a young boy, Lucius, who has a clear understanding between right and wrong, goes on an adventure with two men who work for his family. On the adventure Lucius is confronted with obstacles dealing with gambling, drinking, prostitution, horse-racing, political corruption, and rowdiness. As he tries to navigate his journey of morality he is confronted with many challenges.

Lucius Priest explains to his grandson how he grew up and how he became a man. In 1905, when he was eleven, he willingly went on an escapade from his home in Jefferson to Memphis with Boon Hogganbeck and a Negro, Ned McCaslin, who were both employed his family's stable. Boon has plans to visit his girlfriend, Corrie Everbe, who is a prostitute at Miss Reba's brothel min the city. To justify his borrowing Lucius's grandfathers car, he take takes Lucius along for the ride. Soon after their arrival Ned trades the car in for a "borrowed" race horse to race in efforts to help a relative pay off gambling debts.

We also learn the adventurers become stuck at Hell Creek in a series of mud holes that were intentionally plowed by a local entrepreneur to make sure that his mule services were needed in order for them to continuing the journey. In the end the reivers win the horse race and Lucius's parents and grandparents have find out where the reivers are and Lucius must face the realities of his wrongdoings.

Lucius learns a lot about himself during this time. He learns about temptation, and when faced with it how he becomes weak. He also learns that there is a dark side to life as well as the dark side of himself, and when you lie and deceive people, there are consequences. To be only eleven years old Lucius learns that he learns that he must make a lot of adult decisions, and it isn't easy. He soon realized that of the people that he is traveling with, he was the most responsible. He reaches manhood when he learns from his Grandfather that no punishment can take away his shame: "A gentle-man can live through anything. . . . A gentleman accepts the responsibility of his actions and bears the burden of their consequences, even when he did not himself instigate them but only acquiesced to them, didn't say No though he knew he should."

Although Lucius gives up his power, to what he calls "unvirtue" by agreeing to go on a secret trip, that is in direct conflict with the promises he made to his family, he continues to act like the gentleman that he was taught to be. He honors his promise that he made to his mother to not drink any alcohol. He attacks the corrupt teenager who tells him how Corrie became a prostitute and how he used her to make money. Because of this impressive action and him expressing how he was hurt, Corrie promises him she will stop prostituting, just before Boon gets what he originally came for. This and other gentlemanly acts lead to him persuading Boon to marry Corrie. The moral responsibility at the center of Lucius's values even when he is disobeying his parents helps, by example, to save others from irresponsibility and immorality. The moral purpose of The Reivers is, the passing on of a tradition of moral behavior, of an ideal of what a gentleman is, from...
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