Pray Without Ceasing Questions and Answers
by Wendell Berry

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Describe the characteristics of Thad Coulter in Wendell Berry's "Pray Without Ceasing." 

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Wendell Berry's "Pray Without Ceasing," after an introduction to the narrator's family and past, includes a conversation between the narrator (the great-grandson of the murderer Ben Feltner) and Braymer Hardy (a friend of the narrator's father). Hardy has brought a newspaper which bears the headline: "Ben Feltner, Friend to All, Shot Dead in Port William."

In discussing the murder, Hardy states that Thad Coulter was "a good kind of feller," not one who he thought would shoot anybody. As part of the news, Thad is described as walking into the sheriff and admitting that he killed Ben ("the best friend" he ever had). Thad, then, went on to kill himself in while in jail for the murder.

The circumstances behind the murder of Ben revolved around the loss of Thad's home and property. After losing everything to the bank, Thad goes to Ben's drunk and extremely upset. Although Thad only went to rant and rave about his loss. he ended up killing Ben.

Characteristically, Thad represents a sort of "everyman." A good man who simply found himself in a bad place. Needing a friend to listen, Thad simply looses control and murders Ben. Thad'sguilt is obvious: not only does he turn himself in, Thad takes his own life. One can characterize Thad as a man who typically did right, yet one circumstance forced him over the edge (and he could not control himself at all). He is not a bad man, just one who could not control the downward spiral of his life. 

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