A stylistic tour de force (for the reader as much as for the writer), Intruder in the Dust is a novel about "digging", in every sense: digging into the social conflicts of 1930's Mississippi; digging into the psychology of its main character, the proud negro Lucas Beauchamp, accused of murdering a white man; and digging into the very earth to expose the victim's body and collect evidence for Lucas' discharge.
William Faulkner (who was to become the Nobel laureate of 1949, one year after publishing this novel), was a white southerner and grew up witnessing racism and discrimination. The novel is a tribute to the emancipation effort by the Afro-American population, but it is also an appeal to the white people of the South to embrace a cultural change which would spare them to comply forcefully to the legislative intervention of a north-dominated federation, and would elevate the South to the same moral level of the North ("That's why we must resist the North: not just to preserve ourselves [...] That's what we are really defending: the privilege of setting him free ourselves: which we will have to do for the reason that nobody else can since going on a century ago now the North tried it and have been admitting for seventy-five years now that they failed. So it will have to be us. [...] Someday Lucas Beauchamp can shoot a white man in the back with the same impunity to lynch-rope and gasoline as a white man; [...] But it wont be next Tuesday. Yet people in the North believe it can be compelled even into next Monday by the simple ratification by votes of a printed paragraph").
There is something biblical or mythological in the tragedy represented in this novel: the racial conflict as a background for its very opposite: fratricide. And it is the latter that twists the perspective on the former: the enemy is often much more similar to us than we wish it were.