Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Fictional county in northern Mississippi, modeled on the region in which William Faulkner lived most of his life—a region that constitutes the fictional world of most of his novels and stories. A representation of the South from its earliest settling to modern times, Yoknapatawpha serves as a repository of southern history, legends, and communal memories. Against this backdrop, Chick Mallison confronts his long-held attitudes, becoming, himself, an intruder in the dust.


Jefferson. Fictional seat of Yoknapatawpha County, based on Faulkner’s hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. Jefferson is the home of Chick, who is horrified to see the throngs of people converging there to witness the impending lynching of Lucas Beauchamp that is expected to be carried out by the Gowries. The town assumes a holiday atmosphere; music blares; people, including families with children, arrive, eat, joke with one another, and gather outside the jail. Chick’s lawyer uncle, Gavin Stevens, digresses endlessly about the South, while presuming Lucas’s guilt and awaiting the inevitable.

Beat Four

Beat Four. Hilly region of Yoknapatawpha County that is inhabited by the Gowries and other poor white families. Living in unpainted one-room cabins, these independent, uncompromising, and clannish people pursue illegal whiskey making,...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Bassett, John, ed. William Faulkner: The Critical Heritage. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975. Ninety-four critical reviews and essays on Faulkner, including six on Intruder in the Dust. Bibliography.

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Contains a chapter on Intruder in the Dust. Description of plot and comparisons of the characters and the subtexts of the works. One of the most helpful and accessible books for information on Faulkner.

Howe, Irving. William Faulkner: A Critical Study. New York: Vintage Books, 1962. Focuses on the Southern myth and memory. Finds Intruder in the Dust to be the novel in which Faulkner frees himself from the Southern tradition of racism and stereotypes that are normally inherent to Southern life.

Jehlen, Myra. Class and Character in Faulkner’s South. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976. Finds class distinctions to be the central theme in Faulkner’s novels, including Intruder in the Dust. Considers treatment of characters relative to their classes.

Karl, Frederick R. William Faulkner: American Writer. New York: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.

Lytle, Andrew. “Regeneration for the Man.” In Faulkner: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Penn Warren. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1966.

Powers, Lyall H. Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha Comedy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1980. Emphasizes Faulkner’s vision of good versus evil and his dark optimism. Draws a comparison between Go Down, Moses and Intruder in the Dust, using the character Chick Mallison.

Vickery, Olga W. “Initiation and Identity: Go Down, Moses and Intruder in the Dust.” In The Novels of William Faulkner: A Critical Interpretation. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964.

Wilson, Edmund. “William Faulkner’s Reply to the Civil-Rights Program.” In Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950.