Study Guide

The Reivers Writing Style

By William Faulkner

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Writing Style


Gather 'round and lend us your ears. This is a narrative, or a string of events that make up a story. And boy, what a good story this is.

The action really kicks off when Grandfather's Winton Flyer rolls into town. Lucius says of the car, "[Grandfather] bought the automobile, and Boon found his soul's lily maid" (2.22). When the vehicle enters the narrative, it brings along with it fascination, temptation, and a call to adventure, much like the white whale in Moby-Dick and the shark in Jaws.

As the story's narrator, Lucius details the events that follow exactly as they happened back in 1905. And he spares no detail. When the crew tries to sneak Lightning onto the boxcar, for example, he describes everything. "That's what we did. Though first Sam had to see the horse. He came in the back way, through the kitchen, carrying the horse blanket. He was in uniform. He was almost as big as Boon." And so on.

Lucius's descriptions make us like flies sitting on the wall, watching every little thing, since he's placed us right up front and close to the action.

Faulkner originally entitled the narrative A Reminiscence. It's a narrative that captivates our attention with its childhood excitement, but it also delivers a mature analysis that only an adult narrative could offer. Lucius's narrative is not wholly naïve and ignorant in its delivery, for adult-Lucius is well aware the role his innocence played at the time of the story's events.

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