Intruder in the Dust

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As Lucas Beauchamp sits in jail after being accused of shooting a white man in cold blood, he asks his uncle, a lawyer, for help. The case hinges upon the type of bullet killed the man—and Lucas swears if they dig up the body, it won’t be one that came from his gun. When his uncle refuses to help him, two teenagers, along with a wily septuagenarian, take justice into their own hands.

In Intruder in the Dust, (his fourteenth novel,) author William Faulkner explores themes of social justice in the racially charged south, as the truth surrounding the murder case finally comes to light. The character of Lucas Beauchamp was first introduced in the short story, “The Fire and the Heart,” included both here and in the collection, Go Down, Moses. Intruder in the Dust was made into a feature film in 1949, and was shot in Faulkner’s home town of Oxford, Mississippi.

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Curriculet Details
39 Questions
43 Annotations
3 Quizzes

Designed for students in 9th to 10th grade, this free digital curriculum contains annotations explaining the structural techniques of the author, insights into character development, and explanations regarding social and thematic elements from the mid 19th century South. It also contains interactive videos that support comprehension, such as videos about emerging themes and ways in which authors structure narratives. Over the course of the book, students will answer Common Core questions and quizzes related to the subjects of injustice and inequality, duty versus devotion, and the effects of slavery on the South. This free online unit will increase student engagement while building reading comprehension.

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Chapter One

Did you notice how the author brings us right into the middle of a murder? We aren't told what leads up to this. Or given any clues to even know if this man is guilty or not. This is a literary technique called "in media res." Learn more about it below as you watch this video.  (This annotation contains a video)
As you read you will encounter new words. The "Define" tool can be used to determine the meaning of most words in this text. Simply click on any word, and select the "Define" option. A list of definitions will appear for most words. Use this feature to help gain a quick understanding of unknown words you encounter, perhaps like this one that is highlighted.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why does Lucas Beauchamp make such a strong impression on the young white boy? 
Lucas commands a profound sense of respect. He doesn't bully these boys or scare them; he represents true authority to this boy. What adults do you know that seem to inherently command respect?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
How does the author, Faulkner, create the mood in this early part of the story? 
This young white boy is related to Lucas. His grandfather is a slave owner who was a cousin of Lucas' relatives. Lucas has inherited this property from a white slave owner on the slave owner's property.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What evidence from the text supports the idea that the young white boy learns to accept the black community?  
Faulkner is providing us with a sense of the climate and history surrounding blacks, whites, and the South. Pay attention to the picture he paints of this setting. This is a fictional work, but there is a lot of factual truth laid out in this narrative. Be prepared to answer questions as you read about what statements the author is trying to make and why he might be doing so.  
The young boy offers Lucas money because he feels guilty about the racial tension and history he is a part of in the South.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Which of the following provides an accurate summary of this chapter's main idea? 

Chapter Two

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why, MOST likely, does the young boy throw the four coins into the creek? 
The structure of narration and plot development in a novel is very important to understand. Watch the following video below to learn more about structure. The unique structure of this novel will be explored throughout this curriculet.  (This annotation contains a video)
Lynch mobs would hang African Americans in the fields or on tress and their decomposing bodies would be eaten by crows. This grotesque term is a racial term used by Southerners.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What characteristic does Lucas possess that Faulkner MOST likely wants the reader to notice in this passage? 
This novel dives deep into the psychological state of its main character. The readers have a glimpse of his thoughts and feelings through the third-person narration in what is known as a stream of consciousness technique. What feelings and thoughts are you privy to in this passage?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
What is the young protagonist so pridefully obsessed with doing? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
Write a brief summary about how the protagonist's attitude towards Lucas changes over the first half of Chapter 2. What event MOST causes him to change? Use evidence from the text to support your response.  
If you've noticed, the pacing of the novel is sporadic. In the first chapter, the scene of the protagonist's near-drowning and his encounter with Lucas takes place in a drawn-out fashion. The reader sees many details about the setting and the character's experience. How has the pace of narration changed in this chapter? 
The image below provides some general information about Faulkner's fictitious county. It undoubtedly takes place in the South, and this story is set during the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement. The majority of politically and legally influential people were white, and the effects of slavery and anti-black sentiments were still ingrained in the minds and hearts of many white citizens.  (This annotation contains an image)
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Based on the reaction of Charles' mother and uncle, what can be inferred? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Why does Charles repeatedly remind himself that he is "free"?  
Charles notices that all the black workers he is accustomed to seeing have not made it to work. Why do you think so many of them have taken the day off? 
Many families built a network of liquor manufacturing plants that were isolated and away from the city. The movie "Lawless" is based off of a family who lives in the South above the law of the land. This group of people did not often answer to the law because the law was too afraid of them.  
Do you think it's strange that Charles is talking so nonchalantly about Lucas being hanged? The video below explains the reality of injustice that existed for blacks in the South in for many years even after the Civil War.  (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is the central conflict in this chapter? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
How does the narrative structure of this story reflect a constant stream of the protagonist's thoughts? Use evidence from the text to clearly state what techniques the author uses to create this effect.  

Chapter Three

This chapter takes us back to the present time, for now, to follow the aftermath of the killing in town. Notice how the author affects the mood of the story by creating a sense of desolation in the setting.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
In what way does Charles' uncle seem to MOST influence him? 
The Confederate monuments that exist in the South are a tribute to the soldiers from the South who fought during the Civil War. This monument below is a Confederate statue that has been erected at Arlington Cemetery. In this story, it represents a place and people who have not let go of the racism and prejudice towards black Americans.  (This annotation contains an image)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Which word BEST describes the attitude that Legate and the jailer possess towards Lucas? 
The italicized words represent Charles' innermost thoughts. His internal conflict is over whether or not he should see Lucas as an equal. Lucas refuses to give his race a bad name and behave as everyone expects him to. This shocks Charles because it makes him feel inferior. Although he's a child, he grows up in a setting where white people believed they were superior to blacks in all ways. Do you think Charles' will change the way he sees Lucas? 
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What is the description of Lucas's "grizzled tufts of eyebrows" meant to convey about him? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
Based on Uncle Gavin's reaction to Lucas' story, what can we infer about Uncle Gavin? 
Blacks were afforded more rights than at any other time in American history in the South. However, many still did not receive fair justice at the hands of the law (which was often dictated by the will of the people). In turn, many people took on an attitude of pride--refusing to play into an already corrupt system. This is a form of non-violent resistance. What other historical figures do you know who took on this social and political posture towards racial injustice? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Take a moment and visualize this scene. Both men stand on either side of the jail cell, holding onto the bars. In what ways are they BOTH imprisoned at this point in the story? Use evidence to support your response.  
The image below is that of a 41 Colt. Lucas does not own one of these, and this was supposedly the murder weapon. If the body that Charles digs up does not show signs of a 41 Colt bullet wound, then this would be evidence that suggests Lucas is innocent.  (This annotation contains an image)
Charles is sixteen. He is becoming a man. This novel falls into the bildungsroman category of literature in which a young protagonist comes of age. Charles is going to not only do something very scary by visiting this grave in dangerous territory, but he's also going to learn how to become a friend. Pay attention to how this conflict changes him.  
Part I Quiz 

Chapter Four

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
What does the narrator MOST highlight in this scene through the use of the stream of consciousness technique?  
Uncle Gavin expresses his viewpoint that Lucas is guilty. His lack of confidence in his client has been duly noted several times now. What factors do you think influenced Uncle Gavin to not give Lucas the benefit of the doubt and simply conclude he is guilty?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
This passage is MOST meant to convey which aspect of this novel? 
This repetitive phrase is used to emphasize the finality that Charles feels and occurs when he chooses to help Lucas when no one else will. Although it's intense, the inner conflict that Charles feels is a microcosm of a more macro event happening outside of him--people in the South are still very unjust towards blacks. The metaphor use of midnight also indicates how dark and troubling this conflict is for Charles. The lack of light shows how his head has no clue what is going on--he only has his heart to follow. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
How does Charles come to the conclusion that Miss Habersham is an advocate for Lucas? 
Miss Habersham is echoing the author's viewpoint about the young and the old--they both possess a view of the world that is not ruled by reason. Most adults make decisions based on what's reasonable. If it's not, they won't spend time pursuing it. Lucas knew this and wisely reaches out to Charles for help. Do you think the young and old possess qualities that make them less likely to be prejudicial? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.3
How does the setting MOST affect Charles in this scene? 

Chapter Five

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
The description of the Charles and Aleck creates a _______ mood in this scene.  
Lucas is going to be arraigned within a day. This is where the judge will set a court date, decide if there's bail, and imprison him. Before this happens, Charles is hoping that he can use the evidence they found to convince the judge to not take him to trial yet. The Sheriff, whom they are seeing now, can communicate this message to the judge a play a role in helping save Lucas. How helpful do you think he will be?  
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According to this passage, how has Miss Habersham MOST affected young Charles? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
Racial injustice is a central conflict in this novel. In what ways are the protagonists who fight against it unlikely heroes? Use evidence from the text to support your response.  

Chapter Six

As you dive deeper into the plot, new themes will begin to emerge. The following video explains this concept. As you read, be prepared to look at what themes emerge and how these themes affect character choices. (This annotation contains a video)
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What theme does this introduction to Chapter Six MOST highlight? 
Charles' father insists he goes to school. Charles' mother encourages him to help solve the murder mystery. Both encourage duty. One encourages a duty that transcends the other. Who prompts Charles to grow up more?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What was the man on the mule MOST likely carrying? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
In what way does Charles' father represent the destructive pattern of tradition? Use evidence from the text to support your response.  
Charles's conflict is exposing the evils of his own society. He most likely feels like a traitor in some regards. However, as you read about his thoughts, it is easy to sense that he knows the racism in his county is unjust. He knows that by digging up the grave, he has set into motion irreversible events--the rising action. 
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Why did the Beat Four have MOST likely come to town?  

Chapter Seven

In the South, white people had all the political, social, and legal power. There was a law, but the law served their interests more than it did anyone other race. This theme emerges more strongly as this story continues. What do you think the folks of Charles' town will do and feel towards Lucas--even if they learn the truth? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
Which word BEST describes the mood created by the description of the setting in this scene? 
This scene between Charles and an unknown black farm worker, shows us how his understanding of the plight of his fellow black citizens is making him more concerned about justice. He is developing empathy. Do you think he will be brave enough to act upon this empathy when he is surrounded by so much hate? This is the central question the author wants us to consider as we read. 
This is a reference to the Civil War which was a war that was fought between the Northern and Southern United States. The North wanted to end the South's use of slaves as the driving force of their economy; the South wanted to retain this economic interest. Even after the war, as the author says here, not much reconciliation had occurred, nor had the South totally let go of its beliefs and practices that the white man was superior to all blacks. It still resented the North for the way it tried to change not only its economic practices but its fundamental view about human life, equality, and freedom. 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What is the MAIN idea Charles' uncle is speaking about in this highlighted passage?  
The South knows that it can enslave the black man forever--especially after the war. But it sure tries, and believes, pridefully as you can see, that it is the only entity that should decide whether the black man is free or not. Surprisingly, it is aware of how shameful its prejudice is; however, the South justifies its actions by stating that enlightenment is achieved by mistakes. Do you agree with this viewpoint? Do all milestones have to be reached by doing what's wrong?  
Part II Quiz 

Chapter Eight

Like a crime scene investigator, the sheriff is imaging how the crime unfolded. If you've ever seen a television crime drama, you have likely come across one of these characters. Their ability to notice details and their vivid imagination are an asset in the crime fighting business.  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.1
What can be inferred based on this highlighted detail about the German Lugar automatic? 

Chapter Nine

Inside the mind of the protagonist, the reader catches a glimpse of how he is processing all of these events. Remember that he feels like a traitor among his fellow Southerners. This might explain why he feels such a strong sense of impending judgment from the crowd, even though this was not their intent. In many coming of age tales, the protagonist tends to have magnified emotions because most events are new and overwhelming. Do you remember how events you experience as a young child seem much scarier than they do when you grow up? 
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What does the traffic jam represent at a deeper level to Charles' development? 
In this passage, the reader is given insight into the stream of Charles' thoughts. He is processing all that has happened because of him. He knows that he has changed Lucas' life, but he wonders how much of a difference it will actually make in a society that is seemingly a perpetual place of prejudice. Have you ever done the right thing and wondered whether or not it would actually do any good?  
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.2
What theme does the "can of tobacco" conversation MOST convey? 
Charles and his Uncle Gavin are contrasting the difference in how two murders are perceived--one by a black man and another by a white man. Lucas' murder is immediately treated with rage, contempt, and injustice in how he is punished. A white man murdering another white man--in cold blood, on top of that--is shocking, and rocks the moral superiority of the white man who has a hard time believing he can do something so wrong as violating the Biblical precept "Thou shalt not kill."  
Use the image below to answer the proceeding question.  (This annotation contains an image)
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How does the image above evoke the sense of hatred that many Southern whites had for the black people they lived by? Use evidence from the text and image to support your response.  
Many literary critics point out that William Faulkner advocated that the South fixed the problem they had created by establishing slavery. In this passage, Uncle Gavin is sort of like a mouthpiece for Faulkner's beliefs. What is he suggesting the South do? 
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Charles and other characters focus in on how the townspeople "ran away" when they learned Lucas was innocent. How did this MOST affect Charles? 

Chapter Ten

To Charles, the line between good and evil, justice and injustice, is difficult for him to figure out because he's in the middle of the conflict and he is young. To the reader, though, it's easier to see who the hero and villain of this story are. Watch the video below to learn more about this element of the narrative below, and be prepared to respond to a couple of questions later about this concept.  (This annotation contains a video)
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According to Charles' thoughts about the injustice he sees around him, who is the real antagonist in his world? 
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.9
Read the following passage from the Bible, and use it to answer the question that follows. Genesis 4 New International Version (NIV)Cain and Abel4 Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the Lord. 4 And Abel also brought an offering—fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”10 The Lord said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”13 Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”15 But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the Lord’s presence and lived in the land of Nod,east of Eden.How does Faulkner transform this biblical story in this novel. Use evidence from the text to support your response.  
This is an important plot detail. Charles had feared that Lucas would be hung. Everyone in town probably predicted he would be, too. The Gowries, Charles supposes, knew that Lucas was innocent. This is why they never took vengeance into their own hands.  
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What does the author MOST likely want us to infer about Lucas based on this highlighted detail? 
Insomnambulism means insomnia, or being one who has trouble sleeping. Lucas has this problem, and it brought him both fortune and misfortune, ironically. However, as you read on, you will notice a flavor of "destiny" in how Uncle Gavin summarizes the connection between Lucas and his nephew. Do you think fate has come full circle with the old man and his young friend? 
This phrase has been repeated several times--each time adding to the drama of the story. A man who kills his own brother and doesn't have the decency to do anything but bury him in quicksand, shows the brutality and heartless condition of the killer. As the South has made their black citizens out to be cold-blooded killers so often (even without evidence) this murder shows that it is not skin color that makes a man evil--it is what is in his heart.  

Chapter Eleven

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RL.9-10.5
Charles' perception of the town creates a ______ mood at the beginning of this chapter.  
This toothpick might not seem like a big deal, but it has a significant influence on how the reader sees Lucas. Lucas takes it everywhere with him. He gave it to Skipworth knowing he would get it back. What does his confidence suggest about his beliefs about how he fits into his society? 
In a criticism of the South, Uncle Gavin explains that injustice still exists because too many people (not just from the South) put their own right to pursue happiness above the well-being of their fellow man. This brings up the age-old question: Is it a right to do something if it causes intentional harm to someone else?  
Part III Quiz