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Intruder in the Dust


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Novel by William Faulkner, published in 1948.

Lucas Beauchamp, an aging black farmer whose grandparents were the white Car-others McCaslin and a slave woman, is arrested for the murder of Vinson Gowrie, one of a clan of hillsmen known for administering their own violent law. Charles (“Chick”) Mallison, County Attorney Gavin Stevens's 16-year-old nephew, visits Lucas in jail, recalling the old man's kindness some years earlier. Lucas asks Gavin to defend him but will tell only Charles that an examination of Vinson's body will prove that his gun was not the murder weapon. When Vinson's body is found it turns out that he was shot by his brother Crawford Gowrie in such a way as to implicate Lucas when Lucas threatened to reveal that Crawford was stealing lumber from Vinson. Crawford is arrested and commits suicide in jail. Lucas is exonerated and the proud, dignified, and courageous black man, who will accept no white man's charity, pays Gavin his fee of two dollars, painstakingly counted out in pennies, as the last act in the events have made him “now tyrant over the whole county's white conscience.”

Subjects: Literature.


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William Faulkner (1897—1962) American novelist


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