Study Guide

The Reivers Manipulation

By William Faulkner

Manipulation

He had managed to get the decks cleared and me in his power, at least until Aunt Callie began to wonder where I was to eat my dinner. I mean, Boon didn't know he didn't have to say anything, other than perhaps to tell me where we were going, and even that—the destination—didn't matter. He had learned nothing since about human beings, and apparently had even forgot what he once must have known about boys. (3.13)

When Boon sets his mind to do something, he usually does it. And in this case, he sets his sights on involving Lucius in his plan, and that's exactly what he makes happen. The funny thing Boon isn't actually even very good at this; it's just that Lucius is easy to manipulate.

Because Boon licked me in fair battle after all; evidently he hadn't quite forgot all he remembered from his own youth about boys. I know better now of course, and I even knew better then: that Boon's and my fall were not only instantaneous by simultaneous too: back at the identical instant when Mother got the message that Grandfather Lessep was dead. But that's what I would have liked to believe: that Boon simply licked me. (3.21)

We're loving it: Lucius is being pretty candid here. Sure, maybe it was Boon who came up with all these ideas, but Lucius himself was easy prey. Licked him in fair battle? Not really: there wasn't really any battle at all.

So you see what I mean about Virtue? You have heard—or anyway you will—people talk about evil times or an evil generation. There are no such things. No epoch of history nor generation of human beings either ever was or is or will be big enough to hold the unvirtue of any given moment, anymore than they could contain all the air of any given moment; all they can do is hope to be as little soiled as possible during their passage through it. (3.25)

Manipulation isn't a good thing; it can even "soil" the manipulator a bit. Since Lucius feels manipulated by Boon, is it fair to say that he's been a little soiled, too, though? Does it take two to do the manipulation tango? Or is the manipulator just worse?

I realised, felt suddenly that same exultant fever-flash which Faustus himself must have experienced: that of we two doomed and irrevocable, I was the leader, I was the boss, the master. (3.25)

Has Lucius been manipulated, after all? Or is he the one calling the shots? Sure, Dr. Faustus was manipulated by the devil, in a way, but he also chose to sell his soul. It seems that Lucius is entertaining a second possibility here, that it's he who is giving Boon permission to manipulate him.

We stood in the back yard. He blinked at me. Quite often, most of the time in fact, his eyes had a reddish look, like a fox's. (3.27)

Lucius is talking about Ned, and we find it interesting that our antagonist has red eyes. Quite devilish. It's also interesting that he is like a fox, which we know can be a quite cunning creature. Very fitting for a guy like Ned.

"Maybe we're wasting something, just spending it on a automobile trip," he said. "Maybe I ought to use you for something that's got money in it." (3.59)

Hmm, looks like Boon is thinking of using Lucius again, but this time for a bank robbery or something. He seems to think he and Lucius are pretty bad partners in crime. Is Lucius really breaking bad? Is it just a phase? Does he really know what he's doing?

Back there in Jefferson I had thought that the reason corruption, Non-virtue, had met so puny a foeman in me as to be not even worthy of the name, was because of my tenderness and youth's concomitant innocence. (6.88)

Lucius feels that he was unable to be manipulated by Non-virtue back in Jefferson because he was young and innocent then. Well, okay, fair enough. But then why all of a sudden does he jump the chance to go with Boon? Is it just time for him to grow up? Is breaking bad a little bit just an aspect of coming of age?