Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Mississippi Gulf Coast

*Mississippi Gulf Coast. The first section of the “Wild Palms” part of the novel opens in a summer cottage on the beach in southern Mississippi. In the strong wind from the Gulf the characters constantly hear the rattling of the palm leaves along the shore. The setting is an appropriate backdrop for the tragic story that reaches its conclusion here.

*New Orleans

*New Orleans. Known as “the City that Care Forget,” New Orleans is a Latin city, a contrast to much of the rest of the United States, where the Protestant work ethic is generally stronger. Harry Wilbourne grew up in that small-town, restrictive, impoverished environment, and the easy-going moral attitude of New Orleans serves to free him from the conventional life he has previously lived. Charlotte Rittenmeyer in a sense represents the city’s sensual attitudes. Harry is an intern at Charity Hospital and lives in the quarters provided for him there. When he ventures downtown with his roommate Flint to attend a party in the French Quarter (“French Town” in the novel), he encounters an entirely new environment and a group of bohemians with a distinctively different slant on life.


*Chicago. It is to Chicago that Harry and Charlotte flee after they have begun their affair and she has left her husband. This thriving northern city is markedly different from the slow and languid life of...

(The entire section is 578 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Howe, Irving. “The Wild Palms.” In William Faulkner: A Critical Study. 3d ed., rev. and expanded. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975. Provides a valuable, but dated, introduction to Faulkner’s life and work.

Mchaney, Thomas L. William Faulkner’s “The Wild Palms”: A Study. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1975. Traces the origins of The Wild Palms and provides analyses of the themes and characters. Includes a chronology of the story.

Mortimer, Gail L. “The Ironies of Transcendent Love in Faulkner’s The Wild Palms.” The Faulkner Journal 1, no. 2 (Spring, 1986): 30-42. In spite of the fact that this novel contains a love story, Faulkner’s use of language and imagery denies transcendent love as being anything but illusory.

Privratsky, Kenneth L., ed. “The Wild Palms”: A Concordance to the Novel. Ann Arbor, Mich.: Faulkner Concordance Advisory Board, 1983. The concordance lists all the words used in the novel. Examines Faulkner’s patterns of word choice and usage.

Zender, Karl F. “Money and Matter in Pylon and The Wild Palms.” The Faulkner Journal 1, no. 2 (Spring, 1986): 17-29. Projects Faulkner’s Hollywood experience onto The Wild Palms as a meditation on the theme of money. Reads the novel as a reflection on the plight of the artist in the world of wage labor and commercial art.