Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Yoknapatawpha County

Yoknapatawpha County (YOK-nuh-puh-TAW-fuh). Fictional county in northeastern Mississippi created by Faulkner and used as the primary setting for most of his fiction, including The Unvanquished. The name of the county and its southern boundary, the Yoknapatawpha River, is an earlier spelling of the actual Yocona River. Yoknapatawpha County is similar to, though larger than, Lafayette County in northeastern Mississippi, where Faulkner lived most of his life. In addition to the Yoknapatawpha River, Faulkner’s county is bounded by the Tallahatchie River to the north, hill country to the east, and thick woods and hills to the west. The terrain of this rural county contributes to the success of the protagonist Bayard Sartoris, his slave companion Ringo, and Bayard’s grandmother Rosa Millard (“Granny”) in their scheme to get and sell Union Army mules. On the other hand, when Bayard, Ringo, and Uncle Buck McCaslin turn into pursuers circling the county in search of Grumby, Granny’s murderer, they too are handicapped by the terrain even though they know it well. Centered in the heart of the Confederacy, Yoknapatawpha County also functions as a microcosm of the South during the Civil War and Reconstruction.

Sartoris plantation

Sartoris plantation. Large plantation located in Yoknapatawpha County about four miles north of Jefferson. With its mansion, slave cabins, and farm buildings, Sartoris is initially an idyllic place for the young Bayard, whose limited knowledge of the ongoing Civil War is demonstrated in the imaginary battles he and Ringo fight. The plantation, and consequently life as Bayard knows it, changes rapidly, however, with the burning of the Sartoris mansion by Yankee soldiers and the family’s moving into one...

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