Study Guide

The Reivers What's Up With the Ending?

By William Faulkner

What's Up With the Ending?

Lest we get all distracted by the chaos that accompanies the horseracing in Parsham, let's remind ourselves how Lightning was obtained in the first place. Remember Boss Priest's car? Oh, yeah, we seem to have forgotten all about that.

It's not really much of a shock when Grandfather shows up at the racetrack after Lightning's first—and only—victory. He reminds us that he's the reason all of this could happen in the first place, for without his car, there would be no racehorse, and with no racehorse, we wouldn't be where we are now.

Ned explains the situation, revealing that his cousin Bobo owes a lot of money to the owner of Lightning, whose real name is actually Coppermine. He convinces Boss Priest to bet on the horse in the final race so that he can win enough money to not only get the car back, but to also relieve his cousin from debt.

Well, tricky Ned strikes again, and he doesn't feed Lightning sardines before the race this time, so the horse ends up losing the race, along with Boss Priest's hefty bet. Ned walks away with a huge sum of money because he bet against Lightning, knowing full well that the horse would lose.

So why does Ned do this? He's a member of Boss Priest's family, but because he is black, he has no claim to any inheritance. In outwitting Boss Priest, he can finally get the best of him—and reap some kind of financial reward. It's a way to screw the system that screwed him, and maybe set things right for himself.

However, Boss Priest, being the moral compass that he is, forgives Ned, gets the car back, and returns home with Boon and Lucius. (Boon drives, of course.) And like a Shakespearean comedy that ends usually with a wedding or a large celebration, so too does this comedy end on a happy note. A bit of time has passed, and Lucius reveals that Miss Corrie and Boon have married and had their first child, named Lucius Priest Hogganbeck. Aww.

Childhood may have ended for Lucius, but the ending was pretty sweet.

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