Who are the main protagonist and the antagonist with their characteristics in "Red Leaves" by William Faulkner?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It is rather difficult to identify the protagonist and antagonist in “Red Leaves” by William Faulkner, but arguably, we can point to Issetibbeha's slave as the protagonist and Three Basket and Louis Berry as the dual antagonist.

Chief Issetibbeha has died, and the Chickasaw custom is to...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

It is rather difficult to identify the protagonist and antagonist in “Red Leaves” by William Faulkner, but arguably, we can point to Issetibbeha's slave as the protagonist and Three Basket and Louis Berry as the dual antagonist.

Chief Issetibbeha has died, and the Chickasaw custom is to bury the chief's possessions with him, including his Black slave. Naturally, that slave does not want to be buried alive, and he sets out into the wilderness, trying to escape with his life. He manages to flee for six days, and by the time he has been caught, he has already been bitten by a poisonous snake. The slave allows the snake to continue to bite him, treating the animal like a benefactor and calling it “Ole Grandfather.” When the slave is finally caught, he behaves with honor and dignity even though he is already dying. He is ready to meet any fate other than being buried alive.

The antagonists in this story are a pair of men, Three Basket and Louis Berry, who are on the hunt for the escaped slave. They go about their job with little emotion and little enthusiasm. It is a job, and that is all. They are not even fond of slavery as an institution, not because they believe it to be wrong but because they find slaves irritating. They do not care if slavery is inhumane or if burying a man alive is abhorrent. They are just out to do what tradition and their task tells them they must.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on