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The Reivers : The War Between Virtue and Non-Virtue “So there you have it: two things and I can't bring them together and they are wrenching me apart. These two feelings, this knowledge of a world so awful, this sense of a life so extraordinary—how am I to resolve them?” John reflects on his feelings and the consequences of his actions. (5.43)- Richard Flanagan, Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish. In his novel, Richard Flanagan uses his character, John, to show an internal struggle between two values that contradict each other and cannot be brought together. This internal struggle in John is very similar to William Faulkner’s display of an internal war between virtue and non-virtue through Lucius Priest in The Reivers. The war between virtue and non-virtue is implied by his thoughts on adulthood and his actions when faced with adversity. Faulkner demonstrates how anyone can and will fall victim to the temptation of non-virtue. Using Lucius, an innocent child, to display that even those who choose virtue will give in to the seduction of sin. In his novel, The Reivers, Faulkner elucidates an ongoing war between virtue and non-virtue in the mind of Lucius Priest. First in the book through his unwillingness to disobey orders, Lucius demonstrates his captivity to virtue (AB Phrase). Lucius begins the book as an innocent child who always tries to make the right choice and choose the path of virtue. Lucius contrasts his Saturday morning to the other boys by saying “each Saturday morning, when all the other boys were merely arming themselves with balls and bats and gloves … this for the sum of ten cents a week”(1.15) Lucius’ negative attitude when describing his job as “ this for the sum of ten cents a week” reveals that regardless of what he actually thinks of it he will choose virtue and continue working (ADJSC). Lucius knows the right thing to do is choose the path of virtue and continues working for low pay instead of playing with the other boys. After John Powell tears up Lucius’ father’s office in search of a gun Lucius informs his father by saying “Father thought that was all of it, that it was finished … until I told him ‘ he’s gone to try to borrow John Powell’s’ I said”(1.78). Because of Lucius’ honesty when telling his father what Boon is going to do by telling his father that Boone left in order “ to borrow John Powell’s”, it reveals that when confronted with the non-virtue choice of not telling on Boon or the virtue choice of telling on Boon, Lucius chooses virtue and does the right thing (ADVSC). Lucius tells his father what Boon is going to do because he knows it is the right thing to do; therefore chooses virtue (CP w/ Con ADV). Lucius begins to understand Boon’s plan and describes it by saying “Should have told me all, revealed the whole of Boon’s outrageous dream, intent, determination;”(1.94) Lucius’ skepticism when describing Boon’s plan to steal the car as an “outrageous dream” reveals his view of the non-virtue to be wild and unthinkable because of his thoughts on the plan and that he will always choose the path of virtue. Describing Boon’s plan as outrageous was Lucius’ way of choosing virtue because he knows it is wrong and does not want to choose the path of non-virtue (gerund). Lucius tries to always do the right thing but the more and more he finds himself tempted with a trip to New Orleans the weaker his will becomes (PaPP). Secondly in The book the more Boon presses for Lucius to go to New Orleans with him the more Lucius finds himself giving way to the path of non-virtue. After losing his innocence Lucius finds himself giving way to the path of non-virtue and choosing to give in to vices (PrPP). Lucius describes his thoughts on boons plan and displays a hint of open mindedness by saying “But Boon didn’t know this. He must seduce me. And he had so little time”(1.115) Lucius’ open mindedness when talking about Boon’s plan by saying “He must seduce me” reveals his willingness to choose non-virtue over virtue after being continually tempted. Lucius is willing to make a non-virtue choice, a non-virtue choice to steal the car and travel to New Orleans (RWM). Lucius thinks about his choice to join Boon on his trip and describes it by saying “I had already chosen, elected; If I had sold my soul to Satan for a mess of pottage”.(1.140) Lucius’ comparison of his choice to “[sell his] soul to Satan” displays that he understands the choice of virtue and non-virtue, but when faced with the choice fell to the power of non-virtue. Lucius chooses to do the wrong thing, choosing to join Boon on his trip, and even when he feels guilty follows through (AWM). Lucius considers his options before committing and makes his final choice by saying “ I could say I changed my mind. Take me back to McCaslin and I knew he would do that too. … So I said nothing”(1.1 84) Lucius’ decisiveness by choosing to “[say] nothing” demonstrates his complete letting go of virtue and total acceptance of non-virtue by choosing not to go back. Lucius realizes he has the option to turn back and choose virtue, but chooses not to and accepts his choice of non-virtue. Lucius losses his innocence and gives up virtue by choosing and accepting non-virtue. Throughout the novel Faulkner reveals an internal conflict between virtue and non-virtue in the thoughts of Lucius Priest. Lucius has many chances to either choose virtue or non-virtue. In the beginning of the novel Lucius chooses virtue, but as the novel progresses Lucius finds himself temped to choose non-virtue and eventually fully accepts his choice of non-virtue. The choice to accept non-virtue is not only indicative of a loss of innocence but also part of becoming less of a child and more of an adult. Lucius’ internal conflict demonstrates how anyone regardless of innocence can fall to the temptation of non-virtue. Man’s fall from virtue to non-virtue displays the imperfections and weaknesses of humanity.

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