The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountains Character Analysis
The Prophet of the Great Smoky Mountain is a novel by Mary Noailles Murfree. She used the pseudonym Charles Egbert Craddock in publishing her books. Many people consider it as the best novel she has ever written. The novel is a reflection of the feelings that people undergo in their lives when they are threatened with dislocation. It explores the tensions that mountaineers feel when their lives are threatened by the Tennessee state authority. Rick Tyler is one of the main characters in the novel. Rick makes the story more interesting as he is wrongly accused of stabbing upon which he chooses to flee instead of staying to fight against the accusation. This makes him to turn to a fugitive. His fight with the Sheriff is one of the finer points of the novel. The novel is very emotive as it highlights the extent to which people are willing to go to protect their lives and property when they are threatened. The novel is built upon four major characters. They include Rick Tyler, Dorinda Cayce, Greene, and Kelsey. All the characters are strong and have their conviction in the story as portrayed by the author.
The novel begins with a meeting between Rick Tyler and Dorinda. The author shows that the characters know each other very well. They know each other’s background. The novel then introduces another character, Parson Kelsey. Kelsey is a religious man who is referred to as the prophet in the title of the novel. However, careful analysis of the conversations in the novel shows that there Tyler is jealous of Kelsey. The novel then introduces the Sherriff of the county, Cajah Green. He is in search of Rick Tyler who faces a charge of shooting another person. The Sherriff has issued a reward for any individual who captures Tyler. However, Kelsey dislikes the issue of the reward by the Sherriff. This creates a twist that makes the story more interesting.
This paper would analyze the character Rick Tyler as he portrays several attributes that make him a unique American. Prior to determining what is uniquely American about the character Rick Tyler, the paper would sketch the character. This would help in understanding why the character is uniquely American. Tyler is a romantic individual. However, he is not disillusioned individual. In the opening part of the novel, he confesses his love for Dorina. He uses a practical approach in confessing his love. Tyler is not a patient individual. He shows a hint of jealous. However, he is not jealous about the presence of Parson is Dorinda’s house as one may expect.
Rick’s decision to flee instead of remaining to fight out his accusations sets in motion a series of events in the ‘settlement’, which leads to conflicts between the Sherriff and his juniors with the mountaineers. The conflict is fueled by the fact that the Sherriff is an outsider. Therefore, he does not have a clear understanding of the issues facing the mountaineers. The Sherriff accuses Dorinda of failing to provide the Rick’s location. Dorinda expected to marry Rick. She antagonizes the Sheriff and manages to outwit the Sherriff in a verbal confrontation. She refuses to help the Sherriff in searching Rick. The Sherriff’s confrontation with Dorinda enrages her brothers. They threaten to kill him. However, Dorinda prefers to spare the Sherriff’s life to prevent her family from being involved in a violent conflict. This shows that Rick played a critical part in the conflict with the Sherriff. Her actions set forth the conflicts in the novel. This makes him a unique American as he is able to influence others. He has very strong convictions.
Rick is ultimately captured by the blacksmith in order to claim the bounty the Sherriff had promised for his capture. This prompts Kelsey to become disillusioned with his fellow mountaineers. He would like the community to operate in decency, which is beyond the limits of secular law that the Sherriff used to accuse Rick. Kelsey is outspoken about the Rick’s capture by the blacksmith. The blacksmith’s love of money was uncommon among the mountaineers. He was willing to lock up a fellow mountaineer simply to get the bounty despite the fact that he had been wrongly accused. The author claims, “The love of money, the root of evil, is so rare in the mountains that the blacksmith stood as before a deep reproof” (Craddock 56). The blacksmith locks Rick in his shop as he waited for the Sherriff to arrest Rick. However, Rick escapes from the shop. The Sherriff arrests Kelsey under the suspicion that he helped Rick escape from the blacksmiths shop.
The novel illustrates the spiritual turmoil that Rick faced. Rick epitomized the decreasing moral fiber of the mountain community. Towards the end of the novel, Dorinda has stopped being romantically attracted to Rick. Rick refuses to clear Kelsey’s name in aiding his escape from the blacksmith’s shop. This behavior makes Rick a unique American. He fails to aid others who are suffering on his behalf. His individualistic nature is common in the American society where everyone thinks of himself first. Kelsey ultimately returns from jail upon which he finds that Dorinda is still plotting against the Sherriff. Kelsey decides to sacrifice himself to the community to save the Sherriff. Kelsey’s selfless behavior is different from Rick’s behavior. Rick’s actions led to the loss of the positive human relationships that existed in the community prior to the turmoil instigated by the Tennessee state authority. Prior to the events in the novel, the community was flourishing.
Rick strives to go against the secular law that led to his wrongful accusations. He decides to flee to prevent being prosecuted. His enthusiasm and willing to fight the confrontations make him a unique American. He loathes the fact that that the Tennessee state authority is willing to impose upon them oppressive laws. He is willing to go to great lengths to ensure that the community remains cohesive. In so doing, he unwillingly sets forth a series of actions that lead to the breakup of the harmony in the community. He sees himself as the hero of the community. However, his selfish acts harm others. Dorinda and Kelsey are the characters that are greatly affected by his actions. His actions lead to Kelsey’s imprisonments as he fails to clear his name in aiding his escape from the blacksmith’s shop. His selfish actions make Dorinda’s love for him dwindle. Rick had initially promised Dorinda that he would help in clearing Kelsey’s name in aiding his escape. Dorinda “reminded him sternly of the conditions of her promise and that he had failed. And when he protested that he was jealous because he loved her so, she said she valued no love that for her sake grudged a word, not in generosity, but in simple justice, to liberate an innocent man in the rigors of a terrible doom” (Craddock 283).
Rick fails in his quest to win Dorinda’s heart due to his actions. He is caught up in the struggle against the Tennessee state authority. Were it not for the wrongful accusations, their love might have flourished. The Tennessee state authority led to the devastation of the lives of the mountaineers. This prompted Kelsey to sacrifice himself to the bloodthirsty community to save the Sherriff.
In conclusion, the novel has a bleak outlook of the mountain community. The author had a shortsighted depiction of Rick’s culture. It considers the culture as being inferior to other cultures. Rick favors romance despite the fact that he lived in a period that required realism. He was oblivious of the fact that his actions were hurting other people. His actions drive the community to desperate measures in order to survive. This epitomizes his individualistic nature. This is despite the fact that that he lived in a harmonious community. However, at the end of the novel the community has started to harbor feelings of angers towards the Tennessee state authority for disrupting their lives. The Sherriff bore the brunt of the anger of the community. His insistence on Rick’s prosecution makes him be at loggerheads with various members of the community. Dorinda and her brothers plot against him for the accusations. He is ultimately saved by the ‘prophet of the great smoky mountain’ – Kelsey.