Go Down, Moses

"The Fire and the Hearth"

Summary

Many years later (around 1941) Lucas Beauchamp, the son of Tomey's Turl and Tennie, lives and works on the McCaslin plantation, now owned by Carothers "Roth" Edmonds, the grandson of Carothers McCaslin "Cass" Edmonds (Isaac and Lucas' elder cousin). Lucas discovers a gold coin on the land and becomes convinced of a large hidden treasure. Also, Lucas' daughter is being pursued for marriage, despite her father's wishes, by a poor black man, George Wilkins. Lucas and George both distill liquor illegally, and Lucas decides to prevent Wilkins' marriage to his daughter by telling Roth, since the liquor is being made on Roth's land. Roth calls the authorities, but they arrive just as Wilkins has put large jugs of whiskey on Lucas' porch and as his daughter hides the still in his own backyard. While Lucas' daughter cannot testify against Lucas due to kinship, George Wilkins can. Consequently, Lucas is forced into allowing the marriage between Wilkins and his daughter to prevent Wilkins from having to testify against him. Lucas returns to the plantation and cons a salesman out of a metal detector to search for the treasure he adamantly believes exists. The search becomes an obsession, and Lucas' wife asks Roth for a divorce. Lucas initially agrees to the divorce but recants at the last moment, deciding he's too old. The treasure isn't meant for him to find.

Themes

Touched upon is the impotence of the black man's actions. Lucas must persuade Roth, a man a generation younger than Lucas and seemingly less deserving of the Carothers plantation than Lucas is, to report George Wilkins in order for the tip off to be taken seriously by authorities.


This content is from Wikipedia. GradeSaver is providing this content as a courtesy until we can offer a professionally written study guide by one of our staff editors. We do not consider this content professional or citable. Please use your discretion when relying on it.