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.)