Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


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chose the adult Lucius as retrospective narrator of the events of the novel, readers learn that Lucius’s home has since been replaced by a gas station and that his grandfather’s house across the street has been divided into apartments.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

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.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner uses comic techniques that he borrowed and developed from his own regional tradition, southwestern humor. He develops the tall tale,...

(The entire section is 131 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Reivers can be seen as an opposite to Sanctuary. Lucius contrasts with Temple Drake in that he has a set of values by which...

(The entire section is 610 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Reivers was a popular novel in part because it tells a wonderfully complicated tall tale to a considerable extent in Faulkner's...

(The entire section is 171 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

In this book, Faulkner draws upon the entire comic tradition that he admired from Shakespeare and Cervantes to George Washington Harris and...

(The entire section is 122 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Although The Reivers shares characters with other works, notably Boon, who also appears in Go Down, Moses (1942) and other...

(The entire section is 160 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

The Reivers (1969), a well-reviewed and popular film adaptation is faithful to the novel on the whole, although according to Bruce...

(The entire section is 35 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

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 Reivers.

Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner. Rev. ed. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964. A thorough examination of all of Faulkner’s novels, summarizing Faulkner’s technique, style, themes, and the encompassing philosophy that unifies his works.

Williams, David. Faulkner’s Women: The Myth and the Muse. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1977. Considers the women in Faulkner’s novels from the aspect of psychoanalysis and Jungian archetypes. Includes a discussion of male and female characters in The Reivers.

Wittenbeg, Judith B. Faulkner: The Transfiguration of Biography. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1979. Essentially a Faulkner biography, but one that draws on scenes from Faulkner’s novels to find his views on artists, family, and human responsibility. Lucius Priest of The Reivers is found to be exemplary in his heroic conduct.