Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Chaulnesmont (SHON-mon). French town that is a site of Allied headquarters during World War I. Scenes in the novel are set in the town square of Chaulnesmont and in the surrounding countryside, including a country estate serving as the headquarters of General Gragnon. In Chaulnesmont the corporal and his men are executed after their court martial. There are also scenes set in the front-line trenches described as being “below the Bethune slagheap.” These locales as well as others in A Fable have a somewhat detached and surreal quality, as if they were occurring in an unearthly setting. Some locales, such as the foxhole in which the soldiers live, are described in considerable detail, and the time element of each section is usually clearly specified, since the author wants his readers to associate the events and characters with the war. Nevertheless a sense of unreality prevails throughout the book, for Faulkner does not delineate the sights, sounds, and smells of specific places as in most of his novels and stories. The narrative approach he uses in A Fable befits a work that is closer to being a fable than a realistic novel.


*Mississippi. A set piece told as a background story concerning the theft of a race horse in 1912 contains scenes in Louisiana and Mississippi. The Mississippi scenes might be read as being set in Yoknapatawpha County.


*Paris. Several scenes are set in the French capital, including one in which a former British army officer identified only as the Runner goes to Paris to seek out the characters involved in the theft of the race horse. In one of the major coincidences of the novel the corporal who instigates the peace movement among Allied and German soldiers and has been executed for treason is buried in the city’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

St. Mihiel

St. Mihiel (sah[n] mih-heel). French town to which the body of the executed corporal is taken by his sisters. St. Mihiel parallels Nazareth in the life of Christ.