Booker T. Washington

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Booker T. Washington
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Washington, Booker T.
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At the end of Intruder in the Dust Gavin mentions "Booker T. Washington" twice while talking to Lucas, contrasting the way Lucas did "what nobody expected you to" with how Washington "did only what everybody expected of him" (237). Gavin's meaning is extremely difficult to pin down. The historical Booker T. Washington was born into slavery but by the end of the 19th century was perhaps the best-known black leader in America. As the principal of Tuskegee Institute, a prominent orator and an adviser to several U.S. presidents, his ideas about how to improve the position of blacks in American society were both controversial and influential. When in The Mansion the principal of Jefferson's "Negro grammar and high school" (246) mentions Washington to Gavin as part of his effort to persuade Linda Snopes to give up her idea of reforming black education in town, he identifies his position with what "Mr Washington said" (248). There too Faulkner's meaning is not self-evident, and it seems noteworthy that Gavin doesn't at first understand the allusion to "Mr Washington."