Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Jefferson. Fictional town in the northwest corner of the state of Mississippi. Faulkner drew many details from his hometown of Oxford for his portrayal of Jefferson, although he changed details to suit his needs. Both towns are set in the hills of northern Mississippi, which was settled in the first half of the nineteenth century by families of English, Scottish, and Welsh descent, who had immigrated from Britain and settled first in the Carolinas or Virginia, then drifted south toward Mississippi. Faulkner makes much of the parallels between his created Jefferson and the real Oxford, but he also draws details from other northern Mississippi towns to round out his microcosm.

For the inhabitants of Jefferson in the 1910’s and 1920’s, the events of the Civil War, fought half a century earlier, remain very real, embodied in sites around town. This is particularly true for the elderly Bayard Sartoris and his aunt, Jenny DuPre, both of whom yearn for the past. Bayard’s grandson, young Bayard, on the other hand, has just returned from World War I and has a fascination with airplanes and death. Thus he is an alien in this environment, in which he was born and grew up, and is unable to adjust to civilian life in this quiet community, which is still stuck in the nineteenth century.

Sartoris plantation

Sartoris plantation. On the outskirts of Jefferson is the Sartoris plantation, built by Colonel John Sartoris and inhabited during the time of the novel by John’s sister Virginia DuPre; his son Bayard, now an old...

(The entire section is 646 words.)