Study Guide

Pylon

by William Faulkner

Pylon Characters

The Characters (Masterpieces of American Fiction)

The major characters in Pylon are complex. Indeed, there are few “flat” or simplified characters in the book, and they appear only in chance encounters. Some difficulty is caused by names—when a major character appears in the course of the narrative, Faulkner frequently fails to name him, and the reader is often given a phrase like “the boy” or “the woman.” Keeping the characters straight is often as confusing as in a Russian novel, when the reader is given only a first name or patronymic—if anything, it is even more difficult with Faulkner. This difficulty has a rationale: Faulkner usually follows the point of view of a specific character very closely, and if that character does not think in terms of a name, then Faulkner does not provide that name. The reporter knows LaVerne only from a distance, so for him she is never LaVerne, only “she” or “the woman.”

On the other hand, the characters are highly dramatic—Faulkner describes almost all of them with a heightened physical presence and various meaningful accompanying objects. For example, Jiggs the mechanic has the boots he is buying as the novel opens. These are his prized, most valuable possession, and they acquire enormous significance as the action proceeds. At the close of the novel, he pawns them. Jiggs is one of Faulkner’s most successful creations: Poor, totally irresponsible, sly, and predatory, he is the cause of the first accident in the story—instead of pulling the valves from the motor and inspecting their stems, he gets drunk; the plane performs badly as a result, and the parachutist almost breaks his leg. In Faulkner’s words, Jiggs is...

(The entire section is 675 words.)

Pylon Characters Discussed (Great Characters in Literature)

Lazarus

Lazarus, a reporter, the major protagonist. He is described as tall, gaunt, and pale; often he is called the specter man or is likened to a cadaver or a corpse. Covering the air show at the dedication of the new airport, he becomes involved with a flying team, giving them lodging in his room and providing them with food, drink, and money. He is, falsely, said to have had no origin and to have no family; his mother calls on his editor on one occasion. He suffers in various ways because of his infatuation with the team. Indirectly, he causes Roger’s death.

Roger Shumann

Roger Shumann, a pilot and leader of the flying team. He shares LaVerne with Jack Holmes. In the competition, he places well in his first race, crashes his plane in the second, and loses his life crashing an experimental plane in his third.

LaVerne Shumann

LaVerne Shumann, an attractive and desirable woman. She is the mother of young Jack; either Roger or Jack Holmes is the father. After discovering her pregnancy, Roger and Jack shot dice to see which of them would marry her: Roger won to become the lucky bridegroom. LaVerne wears coveralls and does mechanic’s work with the men; she has been an exhibition parachute jumper. At the end, she leaves the boy with Roger’s parents and departs with Jack Holmes. She is pregnant again.

Jack Shumann

Jack Shumann, the son of LaVerne and either Roger...

(The entire section is 606 words.)