Sartoris, Faulkner’s first published mature novel, and the first to treat the people and places of his fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, is a fitting introduction to his settings and characters. The title is the name of one of his leading families. In one sense, young Bayard Sartoris is the protagonist; in another, it is the entire Sartoris family (at least the first, second, and fourth generations). Also introduced are two members of the Snopes clan—Flem and Byron, employees of old Bayard Sartoris’s bank. Protagonists of an interwoven subplot are the Benbows—brother and sister Horace and Narcissa. Other characters include the MacCallums (spelled McCallum in later works).
The setting begins in Jefferson, the county seat of Yoknapatawpha, and moves to other parts of the region (and occasionally other parts of the United States) in the main narrative but shifts to the Civil War and World War I in digressions.
Colonel John Sartoris, the legendary ancestor of the two Bayards, was modeled after Faulkner’s great-grandfather, Colonel William C. Falkner, a colorful adventurer of the periods before, during, and after the Civil War. Colonel Sartoris’s twin brother, Bayard, was killed while engaged in a prank during the Civil War; Colonel John’s presence still permeates the atmosphere three generations later. Old Bayard is passive and nonviolent. Young Bayard experiences guilt because he has seen his twin brother John’s plane...
(The entire section is 586 words.)