The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia Critical Essays

Preston Jones

Critical Context

The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia is the first and best known play in A Texas Trilogy, the others being Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander (pr. 1974, pb. 1976) and The Oldest Living Graduate (pr. 1974, pb. 1976). All focus on Bradleyville characters, many of whom appear in more than one part. Colonel Kinkaid, for example, is the titular and main character of The Oldest Living Graduate, while Skip Hampton, Lu Ann’s brother, is a major character in Lu Ann Hampton Laverty Oberlander.

In their regional focus, the plays have much in common with plays such as Thornton Wilder’s Our Town (pr., pb. 1938) and narratives such as Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919), works that deal with the intersecting lives of several characters. Like Anderson’s “grotesques,” the characters of A Texas Trilogy are more than mere small-town types. In particular, Colonel Kinkaid, Red Grover, Skip, and Lu Ann are well delineated and memorable.

The Last Meeting of the Knights of the White Magnolia has the narrowest time frame, taking place on a single evening in 1962. The Oldest Living Graduate covers four days in the same year, and its action enfolds and relates to that of the former play. In the final scene, Colonel Kinkaid, who earlier in the evening had gone to the last lodge meeting, is brought home, ill and disoriented. Similarly, in...

(The entire section is 417 words.)