Morgana. Mississippi town about nineteen miles from Vicksburg, by way of a gravel road that crosses thirteen little bridges and the bridge over the Big Black River, Morgana is little more than a wide place in the road. From the MacLain house at one end of the road to the Starks’ at the other, each story is set in Morgana or draws on the emotional ties that Morgana exerts on its sons and daughters. As one story after another unfolds, the reader pieces together the whole cloth that is the communal life of Morgana’s inexorably linked inhabitants.
MacLain house. In its outlying position at the end of the road that runs through Morgana, the MacLain house was built for two outsiders, King MacLain of nearby MacLain Courthouse and his albino wife Snowdie Hudson, daughter of the storekeeper at Crossroads. From the beginning, the life of the house seems doomed: “Shower of Gold” tells of the unfaithful King, a rambler who leaves his wife and twin sons to struggle on alone, and the always hopeful Snowdie, who finally moves back to her own people when she can no longer keep the house up. In “June Recital,” the children of the Morrison house next door watch in fascination as the MacLain house is set afire by the old spinster boarder who once gave piano lessons there. By the last story, “The Wanderers,” the house too is gone, although the townspeople still refer to the lot as the old MacLain place.
Morgan’s Woods. Old-growth southern forest of magnolia, oak, and cedar functions metaphorically as the dark place of danger in several of the collection’s stories. Here Snowdie MacLain goes to meet the returning King in “Shower of Gold.” Here the simple-minded Mattie Will Holifield has sexual encounters with both King and his twin sons in “Sir...
(The entire section is 765 words.)