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University at Buffalo Libraries

George Kelley Paperback & Pulp Fiction Collection

3 Day Terror

cover image By: Packer, Vin (pseudonym of Marijane Meaker) (female)
Publisher: Fawcett Publications, Inc. (Gold Medal Books 689)
Place of Publication: Greenwich, Connecticut
Catalog #: Kelley Box 617: PS3561 .E643 A613 1957
Contributor: J. Lukin


Era: 1950s Author as on Cover: Vin Packer Geographic Locale: Bastrop, Alabama (fictional town; population 1,468) Date of Publication: 1957  |  Original Date: 1957 Setting: small town; practically all of the small town's geographic regions and social strata Motives: revenge

Plot Summary

Three days before the schools are to be integrated by federal decree, two troublemakers from New York arrive in a small Alabama town. One is Delia Benjamin, known as the town reprobate since she left her Southern fianc to marry a New York Jew. The other is a stranger, Richard Buddy, with a hate-filled and vindicitve agenda, the nature of which becomes clear from the racist pamphlets he keeps stacked in his car. The leaders of the town's black and white communities soon learn what Buddy is up to, but their own internal dissensions impede them from organizing to stop him. Delia's return has opened up some old wounds, and the white townsfolk in particular seem more determined to scratch at them than to address the threat to their peace. Even when Buddy organizes a large group of local rednecks into an anti-integration rally, the white liberal families continue to bicker among themselves, and their leaders try to preserve their own security. Delia and an ex-lover of hers are forced to risk everything in the hope of preventing a massacre.

Major Characters

Jack Chadwick adult male, 30s, short and wiry, red hair, liberal newspaper editor from Arkansas

Delia Benjamin a.k.a. "Dee," "Deel," "Benny," adult female, 30s, black-haired and full-bosomed, unemployed intellectual

Jud Forsythe adult male, mid-30s, burly, golden-haired, Episcopalian preacher and widower

Turner Towers adult male, African-American, mid-30s, grocer

Ginny Lee Polk Ann Towers adult female, African-American, early 20s, "uncommonly pretty" and sexy, housemaid with a mouth almighty

John Beggsom adult male, middle-aged, squarish, slovenly, boorish and bigoted gas-station owner who hates authority

Richard Buddy adult male, 29 years old, tall and lean, too hostile to hold a steady job, aspiring racist demagogue

Mrs. Gus a.k.a. Lettie-Lou Chandler, adult female, crazed middle-aged shut-in whose paranoia is dangerous

Level of Violence

one near-fatal beating, two milder beatings, a double vehicular homicide


all the characters are heterosexual. One is so weary of sex that she has married an impotent man. Considerable promiscuity is mentioned. People who stigmatize, fear, or clinically dissect sex are generally bad guys. Few sexual interactions are described with any explicitness.

Gender Roles

none of the white women seem to have jobs. Black women who work are housekeepers. Strength of character, honesty, and industry are not correlated with gender.


one antisemitic remark is made by a snobbish character. The novel clearly intends to denounce white racism, but by today's standards, the stereotypical conduct and dialect of the less-educated black characters would be offensive, as might the attribution of the worst redneckery and gullibility to only the poorer whites.

Alcohol/Drug Abuse

only the bad guys indulge in more than social drinking or a calming nightcap.

Law Enforcement

professional law enforcement officers don't play much of a role; those we see keep the peace as best they can without bothering the KKK.

Subject Headings

Revenge/ African-Americans/ Alabama/ Prejudices

Psychological Elements

most of the damage is caused by stupidity, shortsightedness, or a general lack of vigilance. One redneck becomes homicidal when he fears his daughter's honor has been slighted, but there are only two characters who clearly lack a full deck. One is the reclusive Mrs. Gus, who, although married, seems to be based on Tennessee Williams's status-obsessed spinsters. The other is Buddy, the violent and vindictive rabble-rouser who is determined to settle a score with the world in general and black Americans in particular, thanks to perceived slights he knows he's received from both groups. His gifts as a rhetorician and his contagious hatred make him a powerful force for evil.