Three Famous Short Novels Characters

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Three Famous Short Novels Summary & Study Guide Description

Three Famous Short Novels 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 Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Three Famous Short Novels by William Faulkner.

Buck Hippsappears in Spotted Horses

Buck Hipps is a Texan salesman who brings in the lot of wild Texan horses to the small, agrarian Mississippi town in which "Spotted Horses" is set. His status as an outsider immediately arouses the suspicion of the town but their suspicions are overwhelmed by his persuasive, shrewd marketing skills. Despite the fact that his horses are clearly untamed and maybe even untameable—a fact which the horses frequently confirm with their behavior—he manages to convince the town to buy up every single one of his horses. He leaves town without helping anyone retrieve his horse and thereby avoids any involvement in the chaos that follows as a result.

Hipps represents the worst aspects of market capitalism. He offers a product which is not only unnecessary—many of the people in the town have never owned a horse and have no apparent need for one, like Henry Armstid—but actually downright dangerous. Through slick and deceitful rhetoric and calculated incentives, like offering Eck a horse for free if he starts the bidding, he is able to profit handsomely and sell off every single one of his horses. When the horses stampede through the city, wrecking houses and injuring two men, he is long gone, unable to be held accountable for his dishonesty. It would seem only natural that his injustice would be corrected, at least somewhat, by the legal system; such, after all, is the ostensible purpose of having laws and courts in the first place. However, the law, too, is either unable or unwilling to do anything about economic justice and finds itself always opposed to the interest of the common man.

Ike McCaslinappears in The Bear

When "The Bear" opens, Ike McCaslin is a very young boy of only about seven years. He watches eagerly each summer as the adults pile into their wagons to go off to hunt, wanting impatiently for his tenth birthday so that he can join them. The day finally comes and he is initiated into the masculine world of hunting for sport. Hunting is integral to Ike's maturation. From the time that he takes down his first deer—on occasion of which he is anointed with its blood in a quasi-religious rite of passage—he learns not only how to fire a gun or how to track animals, but how to be a man and live virtuously. He is able to learn this virtue because he is living in an eminently natural way; man was made not to own the world but to live among it. Thus, when he grows older and inherits a significant piece of property, he declines.

Land ownership is one of many symptoms of a moral disease brought to America by the white man. It is motivated by the same spirit which led man to enslave other men, a badge of shame on Southern history which will disappear only after a long penance and a true commitment to abandon the capitalistic impulses which were at its roots. Unfortunately, such a commitment seems far off: The woods in which Ike hunted throughout his youth are sold to a lumber company to be sawed down.

Eck Snopesappears in Spotted Horses

Eck Snopes is one of the men who buys a horse from Buck Hipps. He is accused by Ratliff of colluding with Hipps. Hipps gives him a horse to get the auction started and it winds up injuring Tull and ruining his wagon. Eck is ready to pay to compensate Tull for the damage but the judge, citing an obscure technicality in the law, absolves him of any responsibility.

Flem Snopesappears in Spotted Horses

Flem Snopes is Buck Hipps' helper and, as such, arouses the suspicion of the community, particularly Ratliff. Hipps gives him five dollars to return to the desperately poor Mrs. Armstid but he keeps it for himself.

Ratliffappears in Spotted Horses

Ratliff is the only member of the community who sticks to his suspicions about Hipps' and the Snopes'.

Henry Armstidappears in Spotted Horses

Henry Armstid is a very poor farmer who uses his family's last five dollars to buy one of Hipps' horses.

Mrs. Armstidappears in Spotted Horses

Mrs. Armstid is Henry Armstid's wife. She pleads with her husband and the community in general to stop him from buying a horse. Eventually, Hipps is moved by her desperation and refunds her money. He gives it to Flem Snopes who, he says, will give it to her, but he Flem does not make good on the promise, keeping the money instead.

Tall Convictappears in The Old Man

The tall convict—he is never named—is in prison for robbing a train. His boat goes out of control while he is trying to rescue people in a flood and he winds up on an eight week adventure with a pregnant woman trying desperately to get back to jail. He is sentenced to ten more years in prison for attempting to escape. The sentence is at first indifferent to him, for he believes he has nothing to live for, but when he falls in love, the prospect of being away from his future wife for ten years becomes intolerable.

Fat Convictappears in The Old Man

The fact convict is imprisoned for manslaughter, a crime which he almost certainly did not commit. He accompanies the tall convict on the boat to save flood refuges but, when the skiff starts to go out of control, he grabs a low-hanging branch to escape.

Pregnant Womanappears in The Old Man

On his adventure down the Mississippi River, the tall convict is accompanied by a woman in the very late stages of pregnancy. She gives birth while they are still trying to find refuge. She is a loathsome sight to the tall convict insofar as she represents the normal life that, he thinks, is unattainable to him as a result of his imprisonment.

Sam Fathersappears in The Bear

Sam Fathers is the part-Black, part-American Indian man who is Ike McCaslin's mentor in the woods. When they finally manage to kill Old Ben he falls unconscious, perhaps as a result of shock or excitement (for he is, at that point, in his seventies) and requests to be killed not long after.

Old Benappears in The Bear

Old Ben is a particularly ferocious bear who stalks through the woods Ike McCaslins hunts in. He eludes being slain for years but is finally taken down when Lion, an exceptionally fierce dog, holds his attention while Boon jumps on his back and stabs him.

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