Study Guide

Butch in The Reivers

By William Faulkner

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Butch wins the award for being just about the worst guy Lucius has ever met. Otis and Mr. Binford are right up there, too, but Butch definitely takes the cake. Butch is racist, sexist, vindictive, and corrupt. Yeah, those are not traits you'd want to write home about.

Um, and did we mention he's a cop? You know, the kind of person who's supposed to be protecting people and enforcing the law? Yikes.

When Miss Corrie arrives in Parsham, Butch sets his eye right on her. But timing is everything, right? Miss Corrie has just resolved to leave prostitution for good, and she has no interest in Butch. Butch finds his man feelings hurt, so he takes action. He sees the horse race as an opportunity to blackmail Miss Corrie into giving him exactly what he wants. To do that, he and his cop buddies show up at the racetracks right after Lightning has just won. "Hand me the reins," he says, "you're under arrest" (10.126).

With Boon, Ned, and Lightning gone, Lucius has a hard time sleeping. He hears a knock at the door, and to his surprise, he finds Ned standing there with the horse. What happened?

Ned says that Miss Corrie went to Butch to try and reason with him to let the three go. It's quickly revealed that Miss Corrie did this by submitting to Butch, a shocking truth that is difficult for Lucius to fathom. It's through Butch that Lucius learns that not everyone is good, and yet it's bad people like Butch who help Lucius to create his own moral compass and discern right from wrong.


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