Bruce's Reviews > Old Man

Old Man by William Faulkner
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it was amazing

This work was originally the second half of the novel entitled, The Wild Palms, which was also the name of the first half of the novel. Later, Faulkner was dissatisfied with the work as a whole, feeling that the second half was much stronger, and published the second half, reviewed here, as a stand-alone work.

The Old Man is the River, the Mississippi, at the time of a record-breaking flood in 1927. The characters in this novella are not named, referred to only as the tall convict and the plump convict, the main character being the river itself and the vast flooded plain that includes it, Faulkner bringing it to life in its moods and its personality. The story is straightforward - a convict is sent in a skiff during the flood to rescue a pregnant woman in a tree, after which he and the woman are blown downriver and she ultimately gives birth. For a number of weeks the convict works his way back to the prison farm, bringing skiff and woman with him, finally turning himself in and receiving ten additional years to his sentence for having “escaped.” It is a story of honor and the lure of security, of fate and irony, of man’s implacable perseverance against impossible odds, and finally of choice and values. This is a story that lingers long in the reader’s mind and memory, Faulkner having created a world circumscribed yet universal, specific but plumbing depths of commonality, a masterful achievement.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 18, 2010 – Shelved
May 18, 2010 – Finished Reading

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