Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Jefferson. Seat of William Faulkner’s imaginary Mississippi county of Yoknapatawpha that is Lucius’s hometown. Jefferson is patterned after Faulkner’s own home of Oxford in northern Mississippi. Early in the novel Boon drives Lucius’s grandfather and the family past the typical small-town livery stable, which the advent of automobiles would eventually render obsolete, and then proceeds proudly through the town square.
Because the author chose the adult Lucius as retrospective narrator of the events of the novel, readers learn that Lucius’s home has since been replaced by a gas station and that his grandfather’s house across the street has been divided into apartments. As a result, readers share Lucius’s memories of a place and way of life that have been profoundly altered, to a large extent, ironically, by the automobile, the very conveyance that takes Lucius on his illicit trip away from home.
Winton Flyer. Automobile belonging to Lucius’s grandfather that Boon appropriates and uses to take Lucius to Tennessee. Ned William McCaslin, the grandfather’s black handyman, also becomes an accidental passenger on the trip. One of the earliest cars in Jefferson, the Flyer is an object of great interest to Boon, the huge but childlike man who drives it for Lucius’s grandfather. Faulkner provides many examples of riding in automobiles around the turn of the twentieth century, such as a time when the grandfather, sitting in his car’s front seat, spits tobacco juice which, because of the great speed at which the car is traveling, strikes his wife sitting behind him. Much of the rich comedy of the novel derives from the three travelers’ discomfort in the unreliable Winton Flyer on primitive roads, alternately dusty and muddy, that they must traverse on the eighty-mile trip to Memphis.
Hell Creek Bottom
Hell Creek Bottom. Stream that is the most formidable obstacle on the travelers’ journey to Memphis. Boon, who has made the trip to Memphis...
(The entire section is 845 words.)
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Ideas for Group Discussions
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Bell, Haney H., Jr. “The Relative Maturity of Lucius Priest and Ike McCaslin.” Aegis 2 (1973): 15-21. Examines the heroic effort and coming of age. Ultimately finds the story “The Bear” to be a greater struggle toward maturity than that depicted in The Reivers.
Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Contains separate chapters on the most important Faulkner novels, including The Reivers, and provides description of plot and comparisons between the characters and subtexts of the works. One of the most helpful and accessible books on...
(The entire section is 224 words.)