Study Guide

The Reivers Plot Analysis

By William Faulkner

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Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation): To Steal, or Not to Steal?

Lucius's other grandfather—not Boss Priest—passes away in St. Louis, and the family must go away to attend the funeral, leaving behind Lucius, Boon, and a shiny new automobile. Boon convinces Lucius to help him steal the car, and the two travel with a stowaway, Ned, to a brothel in Memphis.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication): Horsing Around

Much to his horror, Boon discovers that Ned has traded the car for a stolen racehorse that he intends to race for money to buy the car back. Not only does this not make any sense, but they must also smuggle the stolen racehorse onto a baggage car in order to evade the police forces that are probably out looking for the stolen horse.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point): Losing Matters

On the day of the race, the horse, named Lightning, loses its first heat and is quickly pulled off the racetrack by a policeman named Butch. The horse, along with Ned and Boon, are taken into custody because Butch has his eye on Miss Corrie and is using the arrest as a means to force her into a sex. She submits, and the horse, Ned, and Boon are released.

Falling Action: Taking Down the Boss

The freed horse races again and wins, but this time, Grandfather appears on the sidelines. Ned explains the situation and urges him to bet on the horse to win a second time. Grandfather does so, but the horse loses. Ned has not only fixed the race, but he has also bet against the horse and reaped the financial rewards, which means he gets to take a huge chunk of Boss Priest's money.

Resolution (Denouement): Grandfatherly Affection

Grandfather explains to Lucius that the world abounds in sin and corruption, and discovering such things is all a part of the growing up process. At the same time, the world does have some good in it, as Boon and Miss Corrie marry and have a child they name Lucius Priest Hogganbeck.

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