Racism in The Reviers: The Novel and Film Version
In 1962, William Faulkner produced his last novel The Reivers. The novel is set, like many of his other novels, in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County. Faulkner places this fictional county in the Southern state of Missisippi. The time is also set in the early nineteenth century so the themes of the book include racism and prejudices, since these were issues in the South during this time frame. In 1969, the film production of The Reivers directed by Mark Rydell was released, which basically follows the plot of the book. A major difference in the movie is the deletion and the played-down scenes where racism is apparent in the book. Another difference is the development of the black characters and the relationships among and with the other races is not strong in the movie. Therefore the film version of The Reivers does not capture the themes of racism like the book and is a watered-down version of William Faulkner's novel.
In the very beginning of the novel, Faulkner sets the tone for the racial tension when Boon tries to shoot the other black hand who he has had a run-in with, misses and instead hits a black woman near the scene. When the two are forced to face the judge, Ludus tells Boon that he is "norrer-headed", in which Boon replies, "Me, a white man, have got to stand here and let a damn mule-wrestling nigger either criticize my private tail, or state before five public witnesses that I aint got any sense".(16) This response shows the contempt that Boon has towards the black race. Then both endure the same punishment although Boon, who is a white man, has in fact shot someone with a gun while Ludus, the black man, has done no physical harm to anyone. Faulkner clearly sets the racial attitude of his fictional Yoknapatawpha County since this demonstrates the contempt towards and the violence against blacks that is accepted of the time. On the other hand, the movie already opens up to the fact that the...
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