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Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Jefferson

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 man; his great-grandson, also named Bayard; and Narcissa, the wife of young Bayard. With its retinue of African American servants, the house and land represent a microcosm of the Old South. Faulkner carefully describes the old house and the way in which each room represents some aspect of the past of the family. The house, indeed, seems very much an embodiment of that past, surrounded by an aura of the violent history of the region. In addition, the author includes careful descriptions of the fields and the process whereby cotton, when it was the main crop of the South, was picked by black laborers, ginned, and bound into bales.

Sartoris bank

Sartoris bank. Major financial institution of Jefferson. It was founded by Colonel John Sartoris and is still controlled by the Sartoris family. Many characters of the novel are somehow related through the bank, and here some of the story lines are developed and given direction.

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Fictional county that Faulkner uses in many different works. Several scenes are set in the rural areas of his mythical kingdom, including a foxhunt at the MacCallum farm. There is also a Christmas scene at the shack of an impoverished black family, where Bayard hides when, after the death of his grandfather, he is fleeing the world represented by the Sartoris family. The shack and the touchingly simple life of the family underscore the levels of society in Yoknapatawpha County. The places with which the classes are associated demonstrate the differences between them. With these two settings, Faulkner completes the social portrait of the people of his world: the aristocrats, represented by the Sartoris family; rural farmers and hunters, represented by the MacCallums, themselves descended from the gentry that migrated from the Eastern Seaboard during the nineteenth century and the descendants of slaves who made up a large part of the population of the area.

*Virginia

*Virginia. Southern state about 450 miles northeast of Mississippi. A set narrative piece in the novel is the story told...

(The entire section is 892 words.)