The Huntsman Summary (Whitney Terrell)

Whitney Terrell

The Huntsman

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The Huntsman, Whitney Terrell’s first novel, depends less on the plot occasioned by the murder of Clarissa Sayers, the white daughter of a federal judge in Kansas City, than on the assumption of the society in which it occurs that her lover, Booker Short, is the murderer because he is black. Besides this, Booker has an arrest record and has jumped parole, and has frequently been seen with Clarissa at the elitist white functions she has brought him to. She does this to embarrass her father, with whom she has had an incestuous relationship from an early age, and whom she tries, with Booker’s help, to blackmail. This moves the judge to murder her on his country club golf course one night.

Though pursued for the murder, Booker manages to elude the police with the help of Mercury Chapman, his former employer at the hunt club that Thornton Sayers and other well-to-do whites are members of, and Stan Granger, another employee there whom Booker has become friends with.

Chapman helps Booker because he is still trying to overcome his guilt at letting a black soldier under his command in World War II be hung for a rape he did not commit, and if he pays with his life for trying to trick Sayers into admitting his own guilt, perhaps it will be viewed as a heroic penance for a racial sin, as the story views Granger, a white laborer, as a sort of latter day Huckleberry Finn loyal to a latter day Jim.