|Abstract: ||Intruder in the Dust (1948), one of William Faulkner’s initiation novels, tells the story of Charles (“Chick”) Mallison’s coming of age morally. Encumbered with his undischarged debt to Lucas Beauchamp, a proud old man of white and black blood, Chick goes to extreme lengths, with the help of Miss Habersham and Aleck Sander, to prove Lucas’s innocence when Lucas is summarily thrown into jail for his suspected murder of a white man and, consequently, faced with the grim prospect of being lynched by a mob.
Intruder in the Dust is also one of the novels in which Faulkner gives full expression to his entanglement with the race problems. At the beginning of the novel, Lucas felt slighted by the then twelve-year-old Chick when Chick was provided with comfort and dinner in Lucas’s place after an accident and condescendingly offered to pay Lucas for his hospitality because Lucas, in Chick’s eye, was a “nigger.” Lucas, however, is proud of being a lineal descendant of Carothers McCaslin, a white ancestor as well as the county’s founder, and his unconventional behavior “as a nigger” has provoked much public outrage. It is imperative for the citizenry of Jefferson to teach Lucas to “know his place,” and the suspected murder of a white man affords such an opportunity. To discharge his debt to Lucas, Chick takes it upon himself to save Lucas’s hide, and, in so doing, is initiated into manhood and achieves maturation. One problem, however, remains unresolved: Chick is yet to come to full recognition of his sense of superiority as a white. His deep commitment to his community, a predominantly white one, only complicates the issue. The growth of Chick’s moral consciousness, therefore, falls short because, growing up white in the South, he pledges his loyalty, first and foremost, to his own kind—white Southerners.