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The Reivers Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 76 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Reivers.
This section contains 636 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
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The Reivers Summary & Study Guide Description

The Reivers Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Related Titles and a Free Quiz on The Reivers by William Faulkner.

Plot Summary

The Reivers, set in the early 1900's in the South, centers on a group of individuals from Jefferson, Mississippi, who are nearly family. Lucius Priest, an eleven-year-old boy, his family's retainer, Boon Hogganback, and Ned McCaslin, the family's black family member and hired help, travel to Memphis in Grandfather's stolen vehicle while Lucius' parents attend a funeral in the North. As Boon and Lucius begin their time at a bordello, however, Ned's decision to trade the vehicle for a horse, intending to race the animal, takes them all on a downward spiral into deceit, lies and corruption.

Through the journey, Lucius learns of racism, sexism, jealousy, corruption, and betrayal. With his friend's guidance, however, Lucius also learns of morality, self-respect, dignity, and honor. The Reivers is a beautiful novel, cataloging four days in the life of a young, impressionable boy, through whose journey readers experience both the positive and the negative aspects of simply being alive.

Lucius Priest is an eleven-year-old boy living in virtually rural Jefferson, Mississippi in 1905. When his mother's father passes away, however, Boon Hogganback, the family's retainer, convinces Lucius to assist him in stealing his Grandfather's vehicle for a trip to Memphis while the rest of the family attends a funeral. Lucius, tempted by non-Virtue, silently agrees, and the two set off for the urban city, unwittingly carrying with them the family's black family member and hired hand, Ned McCaslin.

On arriving in Memphis, Ned departs to meet his own people while Boon takes Lucius to a bordello in which his girlfriend, Corrie, is employed. That evening, however, Ned returns with the horrifying news that he has traded the stolen vehicle for a stolen horse, which he plans to race in Parsham. Through the assistance of Miss Reba, the bordello's primary caretaker, Corrie, Boon's girlfriend, her nephew, corrupted Otis, and Sam, Corrie's connection to the railroad, the group smuggle the horse onto a baggage car and arrive in Parsham.

Once there, Ned and Lucius travel the home of Uncle Parsham, a black older gentleman known to Sam, while Boon organizes the horse race. A local officer, Butch, arrives at the house to see the horse, and takes an interest in Corrie which clearly angers Boon. Corrie, determined to quit prostitution after Lucius fights for her honor with Otis, succeeds in struggling against the officer's advances.

The day of the race, Lucius loses the first heat, but is unable to race the second or third, since Ned, Boon, and Lightning, the horse, are taken into custody by Butch and the local constable. Unbeknownst to the constable, Butch is using the situation to force Corrie into a sexual situation with him. While the men are released once Corrie has submitted, Boon winds up back in jail following an attack on Corrie, as well as on Butch.

Back at the racetrack, Ned and Lucius try again to win the race, this time succeeding. However, as they near the exit to the track, they see Grandfather waiting for them. Ned explains that a relative, Bobo, and his involvement caused the entire situation with a white man to whom he was indebted. In an attempt to spare his relative's future, Ned agreed to steal a horse, and force the horse to run, using a family secret. The secret, learned at the end of the novel, is to feed the horse sardines.

Throughout his journey, Lucius learns much of the world, including the consequences of non-Virtue, as well as the power of racism, sexism, prejudice, and greed. However, through Ned's gentle guidance and Boon's opposite actions, Lucius also learns of honor, Virtue, glory, and humility. Through the eyes of an eleven-year-old boy caught up in the adventure of a lifetime, the novel tells of one group's journey through self-exploration and through the experience of being human in the early portion of the 20th century.

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This section contains 636 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Reivers Study Guide
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The Reivers from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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