The hero of Kidnapped, David Balfour is a sixteen-year-old boy from Essendean whose seemingly poor father, a schoolmaster, has just died. With his mother already dead, David has no choice but to leave the rented family home and find his way in the world. A letter left for him by his father sends him on a journey to Cramond, where he learns that he is actually from a wealthy family, the Shaws. An encounter with his devious uncle Ebenezer ends with David being kidnapped and taken aboard a ship bound for the American Colonies, where he will be sold into slavery. Aboard the ship, David meets Alan Breck Stewart and forms a friendship that keeps both of them alive through many perils, not the least of which include a shipwreck and being suspected of murdering a prominent agent of the king. David eventually returns to his rightful home, the estate of the Shaws, and claims his inheritance before departing for Edinburgh to help his friend Alan escape . . . Read More
Kidnapped begins in June of 1751, in a region of Scotland known as the Lowlands. David Balfour, an Essendean boy of sixteen, is left homeless when his seemingly poor schoolmaster father dies. With his mother already dead, David believes himself to be without inheritance or living relative until the local minister, Mister Campbell, gives him a letter prepared by David’s father before his death. A note instructs David to take the letter to his heretofore unknown uncle, Ebenezer Balfour, at the house of Shaws in Cramond. The discovery that he hails from a wealthy family excites David, although Mister Campbell quickly reminds the boy—who has learned only simple country manners—to be on his best behavior when he arrives there. Mister Campbell gives David a Bible, a small amount of money, and a recipe for a healing drink, and David sets off on a two-day journey by foot to Cramond.
Along the way, David sees a regiment of the king’s . . . Read More
William Faulkner was a legendary drinker in two senses: He could consume truly enormous amounts of alcohol, and some contended that he needed alcohol as a kind of potion that gave him creativity and inspiration as an artist. However, common sense states that no one could have produced novels as complex as he did while under the influence of alcohol. This becomes especially clear when considering the almost unbelievably complex family trees that Faulkner constructed for his imaginary families in Yoknapatawpha County. A number of prominent families in the county appear in novel after novel, and Faulkner would follow the history of each clan backward and forward in time, keeping the relationships, birth dates, and death dates of each member in mind as he constructed their stories (and further mixing the families together in any given story or novel; again, no one could have accomplished this feat while as inebriated as the legends say he was).
Of the prominent Yoknapatawpha . . . Read More
The Antebellum, or Pre– Civil War, South
Events in the South during Faulkner’s life cannot be understood without knowing something of the American Civil War (1861–1865). The essence of the situation is that the northern and southern sections of the United States had, over the course of the last two centuries before the Civil War, followed different paths. The North had become, by 1860, an industrial powerhouse, a full participant in the Industrial Revolution that was then sweeping across the advanced nations of the world. The South had remained agrarian, growing cotton, sugar, and rice. After the invention of the cotton gin, a device that separated cotton from its seeds with high efficiency, the South became the Cotton Kingdom, exporting vast quantities to Great Britain, where the cotton was spun into cloth. The entire system, unfortunately, rested on the backs of millions of slaves, who grew the cotton and kept the gins running.
Because they . . . Read More
Debt and Payment
The incident at the start of William Faulkner’s novel, when Beauchamp refuses the seventy-cent tip from Chick, is in fact complex. On one level, the young and thoughtless Chick regards it as an insult to his race. More is happening here, however. The incident swells in his mind in part because he feels he owes an unpaid debt to Beauchamp, and he continually tries to repay it. In the end, he succeeds. He goes against the common sense of his time and place, opens the Gowrie grave, and finds the first piece of evidence that will save Beauchamp’s life and set him free. The debt, however, operates at a symbolic level, too. Chick owes Beauchamp seventy cents, but he owes him much more, because his society had enslaved Beauchamp’s ancestors, and presently keeps them in a new bondage that takes the form of strict segregation and poverty Chick’s debt symbolizes something much bigger: all of the South owes a debt to Beauchamp and his race, and . . . Read More
Lucas Beauchamp is one of the central characters in the novel, the man accused of murdering Vinson Gowrie. Although still vigorous, he is in his seventies as the story takes place. The black owner of a small cabin and farm on the Edmonds estate, Beauchamp is in fact a direct descendent of Carothers McCaslin, who founded the estate long ago. Beauchamp is self-assured to the point that he seems contemptuous of all who meet him. This is a dangerous trait for a black man in the South of the 1940s. Faulkner describes his face as ‘‘not arrogant, not even scornful: just intractable and composed.’’ For years, the county, it seems, has been waiting to teach him a lesson and put him in his place as a subordinate within this segregated culture. This may be one reason the white residents of Beat Four are so eager to lynch him, and even seem intent on burning him alive (hence, the frequent references Faulkner makes to the lynch mobs carrying . . . Read More
This classic novel by William Faulkner opens with the news that Lucas Beauchamp, a black man living in the countryside of Yoknapatawpha County, has been accused of murdering a white man, Vinson Gowrie. The novel is told from the point of view of sixteen year-old Charles ‘‘Chick’’ Mallison, and the news reminds him of the first time he met Beauchamp, four years earlier.
As a twelve-year-old boy, he had gone rabbit hunting on the Edmonds plantation, where Beauchamp lives, and accidentally fell into a frigid creek. After the accident, Lucas Beauchamp takes him to his cabin, where his wife, Molly, feeds Chick while his clothes are drying. Chick is impressed by Beauchamp’s manner, which is self-confident to the point of being contemptuous—odd behavior for a black man in Mississippi in the late 1940s. Chick tries to pay for the meal, but Beauchamp refuses the seventy cents he offers; insulted, Chick throws the money on the floor. . . . Read More
The Importance of Family and Land
One overriding theme of the saga that is The Glory Field is the value of kinship and relations. Myers expresses this idea by emphasizing the importance of the relationships between the generations of the Lewis family and their holding onto the land they own in Curry Island, South Carolina. Before each section of the novel, Myers presents a genealogical tree of where the characters in this segment fit in the Lewis family.
These trees both provide a guide to the readers about the characters in this part of the story and emphasize a link between the generations of the Lewis family. The African American Lewis family began with Muhammad Bilal, who was brought from Africa as a slave as a young child. He was one of the first slaves bought by the white Lewis family to work Live Oaks, which became a viable plantation. Most of Muhammad’s descendants remained in slavery working the land on Live Oaks until they were freed . . . Read More
DATE: produced posthumously in 401, written in 407/6
CHARACTERS: Oedipus, Antigone, Stranger, Ismene, Theseus, Kreon, Polyneikes, Messenger
CHORUS: men of Colonus
SETTING: the grove of the Eumenides at Colonus, a village just outside Athens
After many years of wandering the blind and accursed Oedipus and his daughter Antigone arrive at Colonus, near Athens. Upon hearing from a stranger that he has reached the grove of the Eumenides (the Dread Goddesses), he realizes that he has reached the end of his journey. The chorus are at first appalled to learn that this is the cursed Oedipus, but after hearing his plea agree to let the king (Theseus) decide. Ismene, Antigone’s sister, arrives unexpectedly, bringing news that Kreon has been sent to bring Oedipus back to Thebes – an oracle has declared that his presence will aid any city that possesses him – then Theseus arrives and grants Oedipus refuge in his . . . Read More
COMPETITION: first prize
CHARACTERS: Odysseus, Neoptolemos, Philoctetes, Merchant, Herakles
CHORUS: sailors from the ship of Neoptolemos
SETTING: the deserted island of Lemnos
The Greeks have been besieging Troy for ten years and discover that they cannot take the city without the presence of Philoctetes and the bow of Herakles. They (especially Odysseus and the sons of Atreus) had left him ten years ago on the deserted island of Lemnos, with an agonizing wound that would not heal. Neoptolemos, the young son of Achilles, and Odysseus are sent to fetch him. The youth would prefer to use force or to persuade Philoctetes, but Odysseus insists that only deception will succeed. Neoptolemos meets Philoctetes and hears how he has heroically prevailed for ten years over loneliness and pain, but still tells his false tale that he is fleeing Troy. A merchant enters with a lying story that Odysseus is on his way to Lemnos to . . . Read More