Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Faulkner’s mythical county, which is a setting in several of his works. The Old Frenchman’s Place is an abandoned plantation house deep in the county, which has been taken over by bootleggers. The violent actions that set the plot of the novel in motion—arguments, fights, a rape, and a murder—occur in and around the old house and barn. Faulkner contrasts this violence and the unsavory nature of most of the characters with the beauty of the natural surroundings, to which the bootleggers are insensitive. Thus, place becomes an integral part of the plot, especially in the contrast between the natural world and what mankind has made of the environment. Characters in the novel associated with the city of Memphis tend to be evil, or at least amoral, while those closer to nature (Horace Benbow, for example) tend to be virtuous—or at least to make an attempt to be. Old abandoned houses are recurrent elements in gothic fiction, and the plantation house, now put to a new purpose, serves as the setting for the events of the plot.


*Memphis. Tennessee city across the state line from Mississippi that is portrayed as something of a “sin city” in Sanctuary, and it is true that there was considerable crime in that city at the time of the story. Mulberry Street reflects a real downtown thoroughfare in Memphis, in which the red-light district was...

(The entire section is 602 words.)

Literary Techniques

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Faulkner plunges the reader deep into the minds of some characters, especially Temple and Horace. One result is to produce great sympathy for...

(The entire section is 127 words.)

Ideas for Group Discussions

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sanctuary is not often taught, in part because the sexual themes are too controversial for secondary school, but mainly because...

(The entire section is 738 words.)

Social Concerns

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sanctuary achieved a kind of notorious popularity, largely because of its controversial treatment of sexual themes in handling the...

(The entire section is 198 words.)

Literary Precedents

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sanctuary, more than most of Faulkner's novels, draws heavily upon popular genres. Temple's story is a version of the story of the...

(The entire section is 127 words.)

Related Titles

(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sanctuary was first published under unusual circumstances. Faulkner often repeated a story he tells in his 1932 introduction to the...

(The entire section is 243 words.)


(Beacham's Encyclopedia of Popular Fiction)

Sanctuary has been adapted twice for film: The Story of Temple Drake (1933) and Sanctuary (1961). According to Bruce...

(The entire section is 66 words.)


(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 eight on Sanctuary, all written within two years of the publishing of Sanctuary.

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963. Contains chapters on most of the Faulkner novels and a section comparing Sanctuary and Requiem for a Nun, calling them Faulkner’s discovery of evil. One of the most helpful and accessible books for information on Faulkner.

Clarke, Deborah. Robbing the Mother: Women in Faulkner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1994. Argues that female sexuality threatens a male-dominated cultural order in Sanctuary. Delineates women in Faulkner’s novels and finds women treated poorly. Some reference to the women in Faulkner’s life.

Dowling, David. William Faulkner. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. Includes a chronology and sections describing the major works completed during different periods in Faulkner’s life. History of Yoknapatawpha County, extended bibliography, and index. Finds Sanctuary to be the darkest of all of Faulkner’s novels and compares it to the other Faulkner novels of the 1930’s.

Page, Sally R. Faulkner’s Women: Characterization and Meaning. Deland, Fla.: Everett/ Edwards, 1972. A survey of the women characters in Faulkner’s novels, with attention to their individuality and the stereotypes they represent. Finds that Faulkner depicts women favorably.