Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Lucious Priest, an innocent eleven-year-old. When his parents and grandfather leave town to attend a funeral, he goes with Boon on a wild adventure to Memphis. Boon takes him to Miss Reba’s brothel and then to Parsham and a racetrack. He becomes terribly sad, hungry, desperate, and homesick while waiting to return home. He tells this story in 1961, as a man of sixty-one years who does not feel the confusion and pain he felt at the time. He gives an incredible and detailed account of the events that transpired. The boy learns many things during this adventure, at the heart of which are the forces of good and evil. He learns that nothing is entirely good or bad, but that everything contains strains of each. In the process of his adventure, he passes out of childhood and becomes an adult. Throughout the dilemmas and trials he faces, he always wonders what he should do and what a gentleman would do. No matter how homesick he becomes, it is his point of honor to act like a man and not show that he wants to cry. He is at odds with the things he has been taught as a child as he sees older people who do not act reasonably. The one thing Lucious knows with certainty is that a person should never lie or make promises he is unable to keep. His confession in the end is not about the trip to Memphis or risking the safety of the automobile; it is that he lied about helping Aunt Callie keep the other children. He intends to take the punishment he...
(The entire section is 682 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Reivers Characters. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Themes / Characters
In The Reivers, Lucius Priest tells his grandson the story of how he became a man. In 1905, when he was eleven, he was willingly carried off on an escapade from their home in Jefferson to Memphis by Boon Hogganbeck and a Negro, Ned McCaslin, both employees at his family's livery stable. Boon plans to visit his girl friend, Corrie Everbe, a prostitute at Miss Reba's brothel; he takes Lucius along as a way of justifying his borrowing Lucius's grandfather's car. Soon after their arrival Ned, who accompanies them as a stowaway, trades the car for a "borrowed" race horse as part of a complex plot to extricate a relative from gambling debts. The complications proceed comically, ending with a horse race. By then, Lucius's parents and grandparents have discovered the reivers' whereabouts, and Lucius must face his punishment.
Lucius learns much about the darker side of life, about his own darker side, about his weakness before temptation, and about the consequences of lying and deceiving. He learns about the anguish of making adult decisions, for even at eleven, he is the most responsible adult in his party. He achieves manhood when he learns from his Grandfather that no punishment can take away his shame: "A gentleman 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...
(The entire section is 372 words.)