This chapter details the respective backgrounds of the two preachers under discussion, highlighting the similarities in their life stories—particularly their shared frustrations growing up as ambitious, talented young men in the rural South. Their youths were defined by the tensions between family survival and an individual sense of calling, between agricultural labor and adventure, and between physical hunger and the thirst for deeper meaning in life. Moreover, the laws and culture of the Jim Crow South also held sway over both their lives, and made Claude Williams's youth at once very similar to, yet completely separate from, Owen Whitfield's experience. Both men would, however, come to the same religious calling as they came of age.
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