Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Imaginary Mississippi county in which William Faulkner set all his fiction from his third novel on. A map of the county that he drew for his novel Absalom, Absalom! (1936) provides details about where the events in his novels occur. These details make it clear that Yoknapatawpha corresponds to Mississippi’s real Lafayette County, in which Faulkner lived. Light in August is also set in Yoknapatawpha, with Lena Grove leading the action into Jefferson at the beginning and out at the end.


Jefferson. Seat of Yoknapatawpha. Almost all the action of the novel set in the present takes place in and around Jefferson. Byron Bunch and Joe Christmas work at the sawmill, Reverend Hightower lives on a quiet street, Byron Bunch and Lena live in the boardinghouse, and Joanna Burden lives on the outskirts of town. Lena literally walks into Jefferson in the beginning of the novel and walks out again at the end, providing the frame for the rest of the events. As she enters the town, a fire burns in the distance—at Joanna Burden’s house, where Joanna has been murdered. The rest of the novel provides the background explaining what has led up to this moment.

Reverend Hightower observes the town through his window and receives news of the outside world through his visitor, Byron Bunch. Hightower’s carefully maintained isolation...

(The entire section is 573 words.)