Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Fictional county in northeastern Mississippi created by Faulkner and used as the primary setting for most of his fiction, including The Unvanquished. The name of the county and its southern boundary, the Yoknapatawpha River, is an earlier spelling of the actual Yocona River. Yoknapatawpha County is similar to, though larger than, Lafayette County in northeastern Mississippi, where Faulkner lived most of his life. In addition to the Yoknapatawpha River, Faulkner’s county is bounded by the Tallahatchie River to the north, hill country to the east, and thick woods and hills to the west. The terrain of this rural county contributes to the success of the protagonist Bayard Sartoris, his slave companion Ringo, and Bayard’s grandmother Rosa Millard (“Granny”) in their scheme to get and sell Union Army mules. On the other hand, when Bayard, Ringo, and Uncle Buck McCaslin turn into pursuers circling the county in search of Grumby, Granny’s murderer, they too are handicapped by the terrain even though they know it well. Centered in the heart of the Confederacy, Yoknapatawpha County also functions as a microcosm of the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction.
Sartoris plantation. Large plantation located in Yoknapatawpha County about four miles north of Jefferson. With its mansion, slave cabins, and farm buildings, Sartoris is initially an idyllic place for the young Bayard, whose limited knowledge of the ongoing Civil War is demonstrated in the imaginary battles he and Ringo fight. The plantation, and consequently life as Bayard knows it, changes rapidly, however, with the burning of the Sartoris mansion by Yankee soldiers and the family’s moving into one...
(The entire section is 737 words.)
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Ideas for Group Discussions
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Presents a favorable discussion of the novel, remarking on strong characterization and the importance of the female characters. Finds the last chapter strong as a coda for the novel’s themes.
Hoffman, Daniel. Faulkner’s Country Matters: Folklore and Fable in Yoknapatawpha. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989. Contains a clear synopsis of the novel’s plot as well as discussions of Bayard’s maturity and his relationship with Ringo.
Roberts, Diane. “A Precarious Pedestal: The...
(The entire section is 220 words.)