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William Faulkner and George Washington Harris: frontier humor in the Snopes triology Stilley, Hugh Morgan 1964

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W I L L I A M F A U L K N E R A N DG E O R G E W A S H I N G T O N H A R R I S : F R O N T I E R H U M O R IN T H ES N O P E S T R I L O G Y b y H u g h M. Stilley B . A . , University of Southern California, 196l  AT H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN PARTIAL F U L F I L M E N T O F T H ER E Q U I R E M E N T S F O RT H ED E G R E E O F M A S T E R O F A R T S in the Department of Engli sh  W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  T H EU N I V E R S I T Y O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A October, I964  In p r e s e n t i n g the  this  thesis  Columbia,  I agree that  the Library  a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s t u d y . mission  f o r extensive  p u r p o s e s may  of this  w i t h o u t my w r i t t e n  Department o f  for financial  permission.  English  The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h V a n c o u v e r 8, C a n a d a September  3.  i t freely  thesis  per-  for scholarly  by t h e Head o f my D e p a r t m e n t o r by  I t i s understood  thesis  s h a l l make  I f u r t h e r agree that  copying o f t h i s  be g r a n t e d  representatives,,  cation  Date  fulfilment of  r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an a d v a n c e d d e g r e e a t t h e U n i v e r s i t y o f  British  his  in partial  Columbia  1965.  that  gain  copying o r p u b l i -  shall  n o t be a l l o w e d  A B S T R A C T  The i n f l u e n c e of the p r e - C i v i l War Southwestern  humorists  on the work of W i l l i a m Faulkner has long been h y p o t h e s i z e d . But i t has r e c e i v e d scant c r i t i c a l  a t t e n t i o n , much of i t  erroneous or so g e n e r a l as to be almost meaningless.  While  Faulkner's t o t a l v i s i o n i s more than merely humorous, humor i s a s i g n i f i c a n t part of that v i s i o n .  And the importance of  f r o n t i e r humor to Faulkner's a r t i s f u r t h e r s u b s t a n t i a t e d by the  f a c t that many of h i s grotesque passages d e r i v e from  ele-  ments of t h i s humor. F r o n t i e r humor f l o u r i s h e d from I83O to I860, and while a large group of men  then f l o o d e d American  c o n t r i b u t i o n s , i t now  newspapers with  s u r v i v e s i n a n t h o l o g i e s and the book-  length c o l l e c t i o n s of i t s most prominent  writers —  Baldwin L o n g s t r e e t , Joseph Glover Baldwin, Johnson  Augustus Jones  Hooper, W i l l i a m Tappan Thompson, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, George Washington H a r r i s .  Their writings i l l u s t r a t e  and the  genre's growth from mere r e g i o n a l i s m i n e i g h t e e n t h century d i c t i o n to the robust and masculine humor i n the f r o n t i e r s m a n ' s own  language. H a r r i s i s the best of these humorists because he has a  b e t t e r sense of i n c o n g r u i t y  and c o n s i s t e n t l y t e l l s  his stories  i n the earthy v e r n a c u l a r of the f r o n t i e r s m a n ; and F a u l k n e r h i m s e l f admires Sut Lovingood, p r i n c i p l e character-cum-raconteur of  H a r r i s ' s best work.  T h e r e f o r e , i n t h i s t h e s i s I focus on  ii  H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood i n r e l a t i o n t o the Snopes t r i l o g y of Faulkner —  h i s longest  u n i f i e d work and a " c h r o n i c l e * of 1  Yoknapatawpha County with much f r o n t i e r humor i n i t . A major p a r a l l e l between Faulkner and H a r r i s i s t h e i r s i m i l a r use of the s t o r y - w i t h i n - a - s t o r y s i m i l a r t e c h n i c a l rendering  device  and t h e i r  of the h i g h l y f i g u r a t i v e and  even i n H a r r i s ' s time somewhat s t y l i z e d language of the frontier.  T h e i r common Southern h e r i t a g e  and the l a c k of  change i n the p o s t - b e l l u m Southern backwoodsman conduces t o a similar milieu.  H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's r e c u r r e n t theme  of r e t r i b u t i o n d e r i v e s from the frontiersman's  individualism  and from h i s concern f o r at l e a s t the rudiments of s o c i e t y . Both authors c r e a t e  a l a r g e number of f r o n t i e r  characters;  at and t h e i r p r i n c i p l e f r o n t i e r c h a r a c t e r s story t e l l e r s  and epitomize the best  are at once superb  i d e a l s of the American  frontier. The  purpose of t h i s t h e s i s , then, i s t o examine the ways  i n which Faulkner p a r a l l e l s H a r r i s ' s f r o n t i e r humor.  Having  e s t a b l i s h e d H a r r i s as the best w r i t e r i n h i s group, I d i s c u s s the two authors' s t r u c t u r e s and techniques, themes, and t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s . and  t h e i r m i l i e u s and  The t r i l o g y ' s s i m i l a r i t i e s with  d e v i a t i o n s from H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood h e l p t o i l l u m i n a t e  Faulkner's a r t i s t r y  as w e l l as t o suggest the s t r e n g t h of  H a r r i s ' s i n f l u e n c e on F a u l k n e r .  iii  Table of Contents  Page  I  II  III  IV  V  Introduction  1  S o u t h w e s t e r n Humor  11  Structure  35  Milieu  and T e c h n i q u e  and Theme  72  Character  111  Bibliography  149  I.  Introduction  In h i s n o v e l s there i s ample evidence that Faulkner i s w e l l - a c q u a i n t e d with Southwestern as 1927, least  humor i n g e n e r a l .  As  early  i n Mosquitoes, h i s admiration f o r t h i s humor i s at  theoretically  r e v e a l e d i n the words of F a i r c h i l d ,  who,  having t o l d a s t o r y about swamp-bred ' h a l f - h o r s e h a l f - a l l i g a t o r s , ' e x p l a i n s to a f o r e i g n e r : We're a simple people, we Americans, k i n d of c h i l d - l i k e and h e a r t y . And you've got to be both to cross a horse and an a l l i g a t o r and then f i n d some use f o r him. That's part of our n a t i o n a l temperament.* Faulkner's l a t e r r e p l y t o an i n t e r v i e w e r , " I was born i n 2 1826  of a Negro s l a v e and an a l l i g a t o r . . . * *  may  i n d i c a t e an  even c l o s e r knowledge of the t a l l - t a l e s p e c i e s ( f o r example, the  legends of Mike Fink and Davy C r o c k e t t ) , a branch of the  l a r g e r genre, f r o n t i e r or Southwestern  humor.  That F a u l k n e r has been i n f l u e n c e d by the e a r l i e r humor i s obvious.  But to what extent t h i s i s a " l i t e r a r y influence**  per se i s almost i m p o s s i b l e to determine. the  o l d Southwest  The humorists of  depended on the o r a l t r a d i t i o n  as w e l l as  on t h e i r keen p e r c e p t i o n of f r o n t i e r events f o r t h e i r The s i m i l a r i t y of t h e i r f r o n t i e r  material.  and Faulkner's i s a t t e s t e d  by C e c i l D. Eby: [The] c o n d i t i o n s and scenes d e s c r i b e d by the humorists p e r s i s t s t i l l , and the up-country domain of the piny-woods and the red-neck i n F a u l k n e r ' s As I Lay Dying and The Hamlet would  2  s t i l l be r e c o g n i z a b l e t o a r e s u r r e c t e d J o s e p h B. B a l d w i n o r a J o h n s o n Hooper.3 And  John  C u l l e n notes the p e r s i s t e n c e of the o r a l  in Northern  tradition  Mississippi:  I n t h i s c o u n t r y t h e r e i e a k i n d o f s a l t y , downt o - e a r t h f o l k humor b a s e d on t a l l t a l e s and u n d e r s t a t e m e n t and o l d f r o n t i e r s o u t h e r n c h a r a c ter. B e c a u s e L a f a y e t t e C o u n t y h a s r e m a i n e d so r u r a l as i t h a s , t h e e l e m e n t a l f r o n t i e r A m e r i c a n c h a r a c t e r h a s been p r e s e r v e d more t h a n i n most o t h e r s e c t i o n s o f t h e c o u n t r y and t h e S o u t h . . . . 4 F u r t h e r , he comments on F a u l k n e r ' s r e m a r k a b l e local  sensitivity to  events: [ F a u l k n e r ] seems t o h a v e remembered e v e r y o l d w a r t i m e s t o r y , e v e r y n o t o r i o u s and u n u s u a l c h a r a c t e r i n L a f a y e t t e County, every c a s u a l r e m a r k , and a l l t h e g o s s i p o f a c o m m u n i t y . He h a s h a d t h e a b i l i t y and t h e k e e n m i n d t o l o o k and l i s t e n , and t o u s e t h e most u n u s u a l and i n t e r e s t i n g e v e n t s i n L a f a y e t t e County h i s t o r y and l i f e . 5  Faulkner's material,  then, i s s i m i l a r  w e s t e r n h u m o r i s t s , and he i s e q u a l l y similarities,  the w r i t i n g  partly  of s i m i l a r  qualifies  The  in particular, stories.  the " l i t e r a r y  might,  to i t .  These  i n g e n e r a l , and then  contribute  T h u s , a common h e r i t a g e  influence."  s i m i l a r i t y o f much o f F a u l k n e r ' s humor t o S o u t h w e s t e r n  humor i n g e n e r a l i s o f t e n n o t e d , b u t r a r e l y few c r i t i c s humorist. to  of t h e S o u t h -  sensitive  p l u s the s t a s i s of the South  Northern M i s s i s s i p p i to  to that  attempt  In f a c t ,  more t h a n a l i p - t r i b u t e t o F a u l k n e r as a  T h o s e who do d e a l w i t h h i s humor g e n e r a l l y  e x a m i n e F a u l k n e r ' s more g r o t e s q u e  with t h e i r  examined.  own p r e d i l e c t i o n s  incidents  prefer  i n conjunction  f o r some ' i s m ' o r a n o t h e r .  While  3  these r a t h e r e s o t e r i c treatments may conform t o the tone of much Faulkner c r i t i c i s m , over —  a more b a s i c p o i n t has been g l o s s e d  F a u l k n e r ' s debt t o Southern  one b a s i s f o r h i s humor.  r e g i o n a l i s m i s at l e a s t  T h i s i s not to say that he, l i k e  many of h i s predecessors i n the South, In  f a c t i t i s Faulkner's range of humor t h a t o f t e n leads  critics of  i s a mere c h r o n i c l e r .  astray.  By d e v o t i n g t h e i r energies t o the extremes  Faulkner's humor and by p a r t i a l l y or wholly i g n o r i n g the  more domestic,  the more American roots of Faulkner's humor,  c r i t i c s have o f t e n e n l a r g e d r a t h e r than d i m i n i s h e d the popular misconception  of F a u l k n e r ' s perverse abstruseness.  In a recent  c r i t i c ' s opinion: One problem t o be f a c e d i n d e a l i n g with the e x t e n s i v e and v a r i e d w r i t i n g s of the author [ F a u l k n e r ] i s the mass of commentary from the p a s t , much of i t o b s e s s i v e l y wrong-headed; ... one of the most p e r s i s t e n t forms of c a r p i n g has been the a s s e r t i o n that the work i s obscure, d i f f i c u l t , p r o l i x , extravagant, or n e e d l e s s l y redundant. Worst of a l l i s the s u s p i c i o n t h a t he d i d i t a l l on purpose. ...Part of Faulkner's p r o l i x i t y can be put down t o temperament, and t h i s does him no d i s c r e d i t . Temperament i s one aspect of g e n i u s . Another aspect of such genius s t r o n g l y aware of complexity i s that i t c r e a t e s and uses ways of seeing and knowing which pedantry has not y e t c l a s s i f i e d . 0  And  "pedantry," i n i t s z e a l t o c l a s s i f y Faulkner's humor,  l a r g e l y o v e r l o o k s the extent to which i t can be r e l a t e d t o f r o n t i e r humor —  a comparison not as e s o t e r i c as that to  s u r r e a l i s m , but one perhaps more germane t o Faulkner's background.  4  Of the c r i t i c s who have w r i t t e n book-length  s t u d i e s of  Faulkner, Mary Cooper Robb and Lawrence Thompson are two who most c o n s i s t e n t l y m i s l e a d i n t h e i r comments on Faulkner's humor i n g e n e r a l and more s p e c i f i c a l l y , on The Hamlet, perhaps Faulkner's g r e a t e s t extended r e g i o n a l humor.  work i n the t r a d i t i o n of  Miss Eobb, f o r i n s t a n c e , has d i f f i c u l t y  r e c o g n i z i n g the i n t e r - r e l a t i o n s h i p of the elements of f r o n t i e r humor —  land, language,  and p e o p l e :  "The humor [ i n Faulkner's  s t o r i e s ] does not l i e i n the words themselves,  but i n the  7 c h a r a c t e r s and the s i t u a t i o n s i n which they are i n v o l v e d . " S i m i l a r l y , i n a s s e r t i n g Faulkner's a b i l i t y t o d e l i n e a t e c h a r a c t e r and f o r g e t t i n g such type c h a r a c t e r s as Mrs. T u l l i n The Hamlet and o l d Het i n The Town, she again g e n e r a l i z e s : "there i s no c h a r a c t e r who i s present a laugh.  i n a book j u s t t o supply  Hone i s a caricature.™  Mr. Thompson w r i t e s with more assurance  than  acumen o r a p p r e c i a t i o n of Southwestern humor.  critical  Indeed, he 9  f i n d s t h a t "the e n t i r e a c t i o n of The Mansion i s b o r i n g , " that "throughout  and  most of The Hamlet. Faulkner d e l i b e r a t e l y  descends t o low comedy."*^  In a r a t h e r obvious  attempt t o  be more c o l o r f u l than j u d i c i o u s , Thompson pronounces t h a t Faulkner's " r e v i s i o n s [ o f the short s t o r i e s i n c o r p o r a t e d i n The Hamlet] would seem t o have been performed laziness...."**  with a c a v a l i e r  These c r i t i c a l remarks, chosen f o r t h e i r very  i n e p t i t u d e , r e v e a l the uneven r e s u l t s of c r i t i c s who examine the whole of the Faulkner canon.  5  More accomplished c r i t i c s tend towards  greater caution.  N e i t h e r I r v i n g Howe nor C l e a n t h Brooks n e g l e c t s anything of major importance  and both show genuine i n s i g h t  aspects of Faulkner they e s p e c i a l l y  admire.  those  Otherwise, they  d e s c r i b e r a t h e r than examine Faulkner's work. instance, says:  into  Howe, f o r  "The t a l k [ o f The Hamlet] i s superb —  richly  i d i o m a t i c , v i r i l e , brimming with h i g h humor,** and the book itself  i s " d i s t i n c t l y American  i n idiom and o b s e r v a t i o n , 12  h e a v i l y s p r i n k l e d with the s a l t of f o l k humor....**  But he  does not draw any s p e c i f i c p a r a l l e l t o the language of f o l k humor, c e r t a i n l y  a major element  of that genre.  That i s , he  r e v e a l s h i s a p p r e c i a t i o n of the r e g i o n a l humor i n The Hamlet. but almost i g n o r e s the s p e c i f i c elements of t h i s humor.  And  i n c o n c l u d i n g h i s chapter on t h i s n o v e l , he confesses the h a r d s h i p s of any c r i t i c a l examination of humor: Of a l l the l i t e r a r y modes, humor i s n o t o r i o u s l y the most i n d i f f e r e n t t o c r i t i c a l i n s p e c t i o n , and i n the end there i s l i t t l e t o do but p o i n t and a p p r e c i a t e . Confronted with Faulkner's marvels the c r i t i c must f e e l that h i s task, though not i r r e l e v a n t , i s a l l but h o p e l e s s ; and may wish t o cry out with the judge i n the n o v e l , " I can't stand no more. I won't! This c o u r t ' s adjourned. Adjourned! 3 x  Cleanth Brooks  a l s o notes the presence of f r o n t i e r humor:  "...the tone of The Hamlet i s a compound of i r o n y and wonder... The i r o n i c element  f r e q u e n t l y takes the form of a k i n d of f o l k  humor, and the wonder tends towards of the t a l l - t a l e t r a d i t i o n . " ^ 1  the mythic  extravagance  But he p r e f e r s t o d i s c u s s the  elements of t h i s humor i n terms, of p a r a l l e l s i n E n g l i s h  6  literature,  r a t h e r than those of American o r i g i n .  Faulkner's  emphasis on the people, the land, and the things i n t h i s land, a l l common t o Southern  r e g i o n a l humor, are d i s c u s s e d t h u s :  Faulkner's p a s t o r a l mode i s , of course, more earthy and v i o l e n t than Wordsworth's, and Faulkner's p a s t o r a l scene i s , much more than Wordsworth's, c o n s c i o u s l y s e t o f f from the dominant urban c u l t u r e of i t s time. ...Faulkner has s t y l i z e d and f o r m a l i z e d h i s world of Frenchman's Bend almost as much as Jonathan S w i f t s t y l i z e d and f o r m a l i z e d the country of L i l l i p u t , but again l i k e S w i f t , he has r e n dered i t i n almost m i c r o s c o p i c d e t a i l . 1 5 And however much more i n s i g h t f u l i t may seem t o compare Faulkner's " p a s t o r a l mode * and " m i c r o s c o p i c d e t a i l " with the 1  w r i t i n g s of Wordsworth and S w i f t than with the w r i t i n g s of F a u l k n e r ' s Southern  predecessors —  Washington H a r r i s , f o r example — notes  say, those of George  Brooks'  comparison  an i n f l u e n c e f o r which there i s l i t t l e  con-  evidence.  This  i s not t o say t h a t Faulkner c o u l d not have been i n f l u e n c e d by the romantic poets or by S w i f t ; r a t h e r , that i n these s p e c i f i c aspects of Faulkner's work, i t i s f a r more l i k e l y that he was i n f l u e n c e d by the r e g i o n a l humorists  of h i s own  background. C e r t a i n l y , as a Southern expected t o have read Southern  w r i t e r , Faulkner c o u l d be works with s p e c i a l  attention.  And however much he might have known other w r i t e r s i n the genre of Southwestern humor, he does comment f a v o r a b l y on one w r i t e r i n p a r t i c u l a r — said:  George Washington H a r r i s .  Faulkner  7  And then I l i k e Sut Lovingood from a book w r i t t e n by George H a r r i s about I84O or '50 i n the Tennessee Mountains. He had no i l l u s i o n s about h i m s e l f , d i d the best he c o u l d ; at c e r t a i n times he was a coward and knew i t and wasn't ashamed; he never blamed h i s m i s f o r t u n e s on anyone and never cursed God f o r them.16 Here, as elsewhere, F a u l k n e r reduces the a n a l y t i c a l of l i t e r a t u r e to what was most important to him — of c h a r a c t e r .  criteria the a p p r a i s a l  And, w h i l e perhaps i t i s i n terms of c h a r a c t e r  that F a u l k n e r was most i n f l u e n c e d , there are o t h e r reasons than the c h a r a c t e r of Sut Lovingood f o r Faulkner t o have admired H a r r i s , j u s t their  as there are other s i m i l a r i t i e s i n  works. F u r t h e r , i t i s not u n l i k e l y that Faulkner knew some of  the l e s s e r w r i t e r s i n t h i s t r a d i t i o n . s c h o l a r s h i p which examines  The inadequacy of the  F a u l k n e r ' s humor i n r e l a t i o n to  that of the r e g i o n a l humorists of the South i n d i c a t e s at l e a s t two t h i n g s :  F a u l k n e r ' s s t a t u r e as a l i t e r a r y  range as a h u m o r i s t .  artist,  T h i s same inadequacy may  also  the tendency of F a u l k n e r i a n c r i t i c i s m t o emphasize esoteric.  Still,  entire vision,  and h i s  indicate the  F a u l k n e r ' s humor i s but a small p a r t of h i s  and h i s Southwestern humor i s an even more  minute p a r t of that v i s i o n ; but the humor of the r e g i o n a l t r a d i t i o n sets the tone f o r some of Faulkner's major To be sure, F a u l k n e r i s a f i g u r e of f a r g r e a t e r  works.  literary  s i g n i f i c a n c e than the Southwestern humorists, and he  would  be acclaimed as a genius had he never w r i t t e n a l i n e of humor. However, h i s humor does enlarge h i s immense s t a t u r e as an  8  artist;  and h i s acknowledgment of h i s c l o s e  acquaintance  with Sat Lovingood.  the c u l m i n a t i n g work of the ante-bellum  Southern  i s noteworthy because much of Faulkner's  humorists,  best humor d e r i v e s from the e a r l y American t r a d i t i o n of f r o n t i e r humor*  In  t h i s t h e s i s , f o r the purposes  of examining  Faulkner's  connection with Southwestern humor, I focus on Faulkner's Snopes t r i l o g y  and H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood.  While  uses f r o n t i e r humor s p o r a d i c a l l y throughout  h i s canon  Mosquitoes to The R e i v e r s ) , the Snopes t r i l o g y of  Faulkner's best f r o n t i e r humor.  Faulkner (from  c o n t a i n s some  Because i t i s a work u n i -  f i e d by c h a r a c t e r and event, the t r i l o g y i t s e l f h e l p s t o unify  and l i m i t the study.  And, as a lengthy work, w r i t t e n  over a p e r i o d of y e a r s , the t r i l o g y ,  f o r range of v i s i o n and  e x p r e s s i o n , i s u n r i v a l l e d by any of Faulkner's s i n g l e n o v e l s . The work c o n t a i n s both t r a g i c and humorous events; and the humor i n i t i s of s i m i l a r l y wide range.  Indeed, w i t , s a t i r e ,  i r o n y , and both modern and f r o n t i e r humor e x i s t  s i d e by s i d e .  Moreover, many grotesque passages i n the work d e r i v e from Faulkner's emphasis on s i n g l e aspects of f r o n t i e r humor.  And  b e s i d e s c o n t a i n i n g Faulkner's most lengthy and i n t i m a t e study of  the Southern  backwoodsman, the t r i l o g y  a f f o r d s a good c r o s s -  s e c t i o n of F a u l k n e r ' s g e n e r i c range because each novel c o n t a i n s r e v i s e d short s t o r i e s .  Thus, the t r i l o g y ,  itself  a unified  work of a r t , e x c e l s Faulkner's other works i n range of humor, range of tone, and range of genre.  9  Sut  Lovingood deserves our  reasons: and  Faulkner himself  the book i s the best  was  admires H a r r i s ' s c e n t r a l  and  b e l l u m Southwestern humor*  a t t e n t i o n f o r at l e a s t  the  culminating  T h i s i s not  i n f l u e n c e d only by H a r r i s ' s Sut  connection  perhaps s u b s t a n t i a t e s standing  Still,  work of  to say that  serve  humor, to i n d i c a t e why group, and  Faulkner  reference  the  to  while Faulkner's statement  t h i s p a r t i c u l a r i n f l u e n c e , an under-  of the genre and the r e l a t i o n of Sut  that genre w i l l  ante-  and the genre of South-  western humor i s most v i v i d l y i l l u s t r a t e d by p a r a l l e l s i n H a r r i s ' s work.  character,  Lovingood: r a t h e r ,  between Faulkner's t r i l o g y  two  t o p o i n t out H a r r i s was  Lovingood to  the elements of  frontier  the most s u c c e s s f u l of  this  to suggest the scope of p o s s i b l e sources f o r  Faulkner's f r o n t i e r humor. w i l l provide  T h i s background m a t e r i a l , then,  the knowledge necessary f o r an a n a l y s i s of  Faulkner's r e l a t i o n s h i p to these f r o n t i e r humorists —  an  a n a l y s i s that i l l u m i n a t e s many p a r a l l e l s between H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's works.  Although Faulkner i s H a r r i s ' s  superior  i n a l l a r t i s t i c matters, t h e i r s i m i l a r i t i e s i n matters of s t r u c t u r e , technique, theme, m i l i e u , and c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n p o i n t s towards H a r r i s ' s i n f l u e n c e on F a u l k n e r . is artistically  As  Faulkner  s u p e r i o r to H a r r i s , H a r r i s ' s work, i n terms  of f r o n t i e r humor, i s a r t i s t i c a l l y other Southwestern h u m o r i s t s .  s u p e r i o r to those of  the  10 FOOTNOTES:  CHAPTER I.  H f i l l i a m Faulkner, Mosquitoes (New  York, 1962), p.  57.  2 C a r v e l C o l l i n s , "Faulkner and C e r t a i n E a r l i e r F i c t i o n , " C o l l e g e E n g l i s h . XVI (November, 1954), P^ C e c i l D. Eby, "Faulkner and the Southwestern Shenandoah. XI (1959), 14. Old  Southern 94« Humorists,"  ^John B. C u l l e n , i n c o l l a b o r a t i o n with F l o y d Watkins, Times i n the Faulkner Country (Chapel H i l l , 1961), p. 130. $  I b i d . . p.  62.  ^John Lewis Longley, J r . , The T r a g i c Mask: A Study of Faulkner's Heroes (Chapel H i l l , 1963), pp. 16-17.  7 Mary Cooper Robb, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : An Estimate of h i s C o n t r i b u t i o n t o the American Novel ( P i t t s b u r g h . 1963). P. 29. I b i d . , p. 32. 0 'Lawrence Thompson, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : An I n t r o d u c t i o n and I n t e r p r e t a t i o n (New Y o r k , 1 9 6 3 ) , p. 14. 8  1 0  1 1  I b i d . . p. 135.  My  italics.  Ibid.  I r v i n g Howe, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : York, 1962), p. 251. 1 2  1 3  I b i d . . p.  A C r i t i c a l Study  252.  ^ C l e a n t h Brooks, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : County r (New Haven, 1963), p. 175. 1 5  I b i d . , p.  (New  The Yoknapatawpha  176.  J e a n S t e i n , " W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : An I n t e r v i e w , " i n W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : Three Decades of C r i t i c i s m , eds. F r e d e r i c k J . Hoffman and Olga W. V i c k e r y (New York, 1963), p. 79. l 6  11  II.  Southwestern Humor  Southern r e g i o n a l humor and "Down E a s t " humor became d i s t i n c t from one another i n the e a r l y decades of the n i n e teenth c e n t u r y .  Together, they comprise an American humor,  and t h e i r simultaneous b i r t h i n p r i n t growing awareness (in  of t h e i r p e c u l i a r i t i e s both as Americans  c o n t r a s t to Europeans) and as members of s p e c i f i c  regions not  a t t e s t s Americans*  ( i n c o n t r a s t t o other regions of America).  This i s  to say that Americans were not humorous i n the p r e c e d i n g  c e n t u r i e s , nor i s i t to a s s e r t that r e g i o n a l d i f f e r e n c e s were not  noted i n the e a r l i e r e r a s .  In f a c t , e x a g g e r a t i n g and  emphasizing the p e c u l i a r i t i e s of l i f e , in  the new world was  a salient  e i g h t e e n t h century America. the  first,*  speech, and c h a r a c t e r  aspect of a s e l f - c o n s c i o u s  A s t r i k i n g example,  though not  i s the song, "Yankee Doodle."  The R e v o l u t i o n a r y War, i t appears, f i r s t made Americans i n g e n e r a l acquainted with t h e i r n a t i o n a l p e c u l i a r i t i e s , and the B r i t i s h invaders e v i d e n t l y deserve c r e d i t f o r the d i s c o v e r y . The term, "Yankee," i n widespread use to denote an. American dates back to about 1775, when i t was employed by i n v a d e r s as a term of d e r i s i o n . "Yankee Doodle," a r o l l i c k i n g song which m y s t e r i o u s l y emerged from the c o n f l i c t and became l e s s of d e r i s i v e p o r t r a y a l as the Yankees themselves p e r v e r s e l y adopted i t , caught s e v e r a l q u a l i t i e s of the r u s t i c New Englander.... [The] d e t a i l s of a sketchy p o r t r a i t are made b e l i e v able p a r t l y because i t i s p r e s e n t e d by the Yankee h i m s e l f with a number of lapses i n t o homely d i a l e c t . 2 Americans* p e r c e p t i o n and l i t e r a r y d e t a i l s of t h e i r l i f e  r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the  c o n t i n u e d i n t o the n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y ;  12  the  a c c r e t i o n of these d i s t i n g u i s h i n g ,  details finally  individualizing  r e s u l t e d i n an American humor, a humor  indigenous t o America. When the i n d i v i d u a l uses common o r t r a d i t i o n a l m a t e r i a l s and does something i n d u b i t a b l y h i s own with them, we c a l l t h i s g e n i u s . When the achievement i s that of a people we are j u s t i f i e d . . . i n u s i n g the same word with the i m p l i c a t i o n of f r e s h c r e a t i v e energy which i t c a r r i e s . Whatever the common base, something i n c o n t e s t i b l y our own has been expressed i n that h i g h l y mixed aggregation which we c a l l American humor. Twists have been given, s t r o n g c o l o r s added....3 In  p a r t , American humor a r i s e s from attempts t o d e f i n e America  and Americans, f i r s t  f o r the parent c o u n t r i e s of Europe and,  l a t e r , f o r Americans themselves. i n the l a r g e s t  And perhaps r e g i o n a l humor  sense demands a f o r e i g n audience, an audience  which i s not f a m i l i a r with the i n t r i c a c i e s of l i f e region. the of  Should t h i s audience be unsympathetic t o the r e g i o n ,  n a t i v e * s a s s e r t i o n of a p e r v e r s e p r i d e i n the p e c u l i a r i t i e s h i s region can t r a n s f o r m haughty  incredulity the  scorn t o an embarrassed  and magnify the importance of the area by a s s e r t i n g  s u p e r i o r i t y of i t s values over those of the would-be  This c o n f l i c t  I t i s m a n i f e s t e d i n the cases of Americans  c o n t r a s t t o the B r i t i s h  Northerners.  and of Southerners i n c o n t r a s t t o  And as the Southwestern f r o n t i e r was i t s e l f  comprised of microcosmic s o c i e t i e s , o f t e n a n t a g o n i s t i c t o one another, a s i m i l a r c o n t r a s t must have e x i s t e d on the frontier  critics.  of values i s one i n c o n g r u i t y at the heart of  American humor. in  i n the  itself.^  13  From t h i s i s o l a t e d and s p a r s e l y s e t t l e d country emerged a group of Southwestern h u m o r i s t s . 5 achieved l i t e r a r y  significance  Among those who  have  are Augustus Baldwin Longstreet,  Joseph Glover Baldwin, Johnson Jones Hooper, W i l l i a m Tappan Thompson, Thomas Bangs Thorpe, and George Washington  Harris.  To some extent, the growth of Southern humor i s r e v e a l e d i n t h e i r works.  However, c h r o n o l o g i c a l arrangement  cannot be  c o n s i d e r e d very p r e c i s e because much of these h u m o r i s t s ' material originally  d e r i v e d from the p e r v a s i v e o r a l  and appeared i n newspapers before i t was a p a t t e r n of growth then, t h i s  can be d e t e c t e d .  collected.^  Still,  Not without e x c e p t i o n ,  l i t e r a t u r e through the pre-war decades moves towards  greater i n d i v i d u a l i t y  i n c h a r a c t e r , more p r e c i s e  and more and f a s t e r a c t i o n i n the s t o r i e s .  descriptions,  An apparent acceptance  by l a t e r authors of f r o n t i e r values, such as speed, and cunning r e s u l t s i n fewer squeamish moralizing.  tradition  strength  a p o l o g i e s and tiresome  That i s , where H a r r i s a s s e r t s h i s r e g i o n ' s v a l u e s ,  Longstreet a p o l o g i z e s f o r them, but both authors recognize them.  Perhaps the most important tendencies of the genre's  development  are the i n c r e a s i n g amount and q u a l i t y of humorous  backwoods f i g u r a t i v e speech and more and more emphasis v i o l e n c e as an i n t e g r a l p a r t of f r o n t i e r l i f e . is  The  on  tradition  not devoid of these elements at i t s i n c e p t i o n ; r a t h e r , the  l a t e r authors become i n c r e a s i n g l y c o n f i d e n t i n the humorous p o s s i b i l i t i e s of these elements.  The t r a d i t i o n grows, then,  from what might be l o o s e l y c h a r a c t e r i z e d as an essay tone t o wards one more h i g h l y f i c t i o n a l , more h i g h l y anecdotal and  oral.  14  As might be expected, Augustus Baldwin  Longstreet*s  (I835), a seminal book i n the t r a d i t i o n ,  Georgia Scenes  r e f l e c t s a connection between the eighteenth century and the humor t h a t was  yet t o come.  essay  Perhaps the most widely  r e p r i n t e d of the episodes i n t h i s work i s "The  Horse Swap,"  which i s n o t a b l e among h i s episodes f o r i t s l a c k of p o l i s h e d diction.  But  at the h e i g h t of t h i s t a l e , when the two  horse  t r a d e r s d i s c o v e r the f a u l t s of the horses they a c q u i r e d i n the t r a d e , L o n g s t r e e t d e s c r i b e s the s i t u a t i o n r a t h e r than i n c o n c r e t e d e t a i l . was  t h a t of m i r t h .  The  "The  i n the a b s t r a c t  prevailing  feeling...  laugh became loud and g e n e r a l at the  o l d man's expense and r u s t i c w i t t i c i s m s were l i b e r a l l y  be-  7 stowed upon him  and h i s l a t e purchase."  T h i s i s the p r e -  v a i l i n g tone of the language i n L o n g s t r e e t * s work. interpretation  of f r o n t i e r language o f t e n i n c o r p o r a t e s the  ungrammatical d i a l e c t , but l a c k s the f i g u r a t i v e the l a t e r h u m o r i s t s .  The  language of  j u x t a p o s i t i o n of the l i t e r a r y  language and t h a t of the f r o n t i e r i s incongruous, i n c o n g r u i t y can be used t o humorous ends; but predilection  His  and  this  Longstreet*s  to comment on the a c t i o n of the s t o r y i s u s u a l l y  a tiresome hindrance  t o the progress of events.  The o l d  man's son t e l l s Blossom, the f l e e c e r , t h a t the horse he owns i s both b l i n d and deaf. The boy c o n t i n u e s : "Yes, dod drot my s o u l i f he e i n ' t I You walk him and see i f he e i n ' t . H i s eyes don't look l i k e i t ; but he'd l i s t as l e v e go agin the house with you...." The laughs was now turned on Blossom, and many rushed t o t e s t  now  15  the f i d e l i t y of the l i t t l e boy's r e p o r t . A few experiments e s t a b l i s h e d i t s t r u t h beyond c o n t r o v e r s y . 8 Whether c o n s c i o u s l y or u n c o n s c i o u s l y , i n "An  Interesting  I n t e r v i e w , " Longstreet does achieve a humorous e f f e c t the  i n c o n g r u i t y of these two  languages.  from  The opening p a r a -  graph of a s t o r y of two drunken farmers c o n t a i n s h i s thoughts on drunkenness  i n such a sober tone that the reader may  ques-  t i o n Longstreet's i n t e n t . I hope the day i s not f a r d i s t a n t when drunkenness w i l l be unknown i n our h i g h l y f a v o r e d c o u n t r y . The moral world i s r i s i n g i n i t s s t r e n g t h against the a l l - d e s t r o y i n g vice...*? He proceeds t o d e s c r i b e the two f a r m e r s : Tobias was j u s t c l e a r l y on the wrong s i d e of the l i n e which d i v i d e s drunk from sober, but Hardy was " r o y a l l y c o r n e d " (but not f a l l i n g ) a . a1 T h i s i s f a r more humorous than the use of r u s t i c  language  above because the tones, the p r e v a i l i n g emotions of the j u x t a posed languages, are d i a m e t r i c a l l y opposed, while the boy's the  speech i s merely ungrammatical  spirit  little  and i s i n c l u d e d more i n  of a f a c t u a l report than that of the best f r o n t i e r  humor, i n which f r o n t i e r speech i s exaggerated i n t o a homely s o r t of p o e t r y .  But as an e a r l y humorist of the f r o n t i e r ,  Longstreet catches as much of the f l a v o r of the expanding west as h i s s t y l e p e r m i t s . between the "two best men  He t e l l s  of a v i o l e n t  i n the county which i n the Georgia  vocabulary means they c o u l d f l o g any other two men county."**  fight  But at the end of t h i s episode he  i n the  apologetically  16  moralizes thus:  "Thanks be to the C h r i s t i a n r e l i g i o n , to  s c h o o l s , •••such  scenes  of barbarism  and c r u e l t y . . . a r e now  of r a r e occurrence••.Wherever they p r e v a i l they  are a d i s -  12 grace to that community...." At h i s worst  as a f r o n t i e r humorist,  Longstreet descends  to the depths of e i g h t e e n t h century m o r a l i z i n g . ^  But  at h i s  b e s t , Longstreet i s a f a i t h f u l r e p o r t e r of the r e a l language of the f r o n t i e r s m a n , a l b e i t  sometimes a r a t h e r squeamish  o n e , ^ and a w r i t e r keenly aware of the i r o n i e s of comic 1  reversal. one —  H i s h i s t o r i c a l value l i e s i n the f a c t that he  of the e a r l i e s t admirable  f r o n t i e r humorists,  f o r t h e i r comedy, i f not comprised  elements of f r o n t i e r humor But Joseph (1854),  and h i s best  stories  of the best  are among the best i n the  G l o v e r Baldwin's  was  genre. 15  F l u s h Times i n Alabama '  a much l a t e r work, while e n t e r t a i n i n g as a sketch of  the times, c o n t a i n s very l i t t l e c r i t i c f i n d s Baldwin's  f r o n t i e r humor.  In f a c t ,  one  work t o be even more t h a t of an  e s s a y i s t than Longstreet i n Georgia S c e n e s . ^  Baldwin's  humor i s o f t e n more i n t e l l e c t u a l and s o p h i s t i c a t e d than t h a t of h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s ' . Burton's  For i n s t a n c e , Baldwin  says of Cave  favorite story: Ho m o r t a l man had ever heard the end of t h i s story: l i k e Coleridge's s o l i l o q u i e s , i t branched out with innumerable s u g g e s t i o n s , each i n i t s turn the parent of o t h e r s , and these again breeding a new spawn, so that the f u r t h e r he t r a v e l l e d the l e s s he went on. 17  17  But  Baldwin was  capable  the q u a l i t y that was  of w r i t i n g f r o n t i e r humor, even of  p u b l i s h e d i n The S p i r i t  of the Times.  In F l u s h Times, more n e a r l y a c h r o n i c l e than the other works i n the genre, Baldwin o c c a s i o n a l l y w r i t e s of the in  a comic mixture of f r o n t i e r language and p l a i n  When he  frontier prose.  r e l a t e s the t h r e a t of a v e r b a l b u l l y to h i s l e s s e r  r i v a l , Baldwin d e s c r i b e s the b u l l y  as:  . . . r e g r e t t i n g that he d i d not have the chance of blowing a h o l e through h i s carcass with h i s 'Derringer* t h a t 'a b u l l - b a t c o u l d f l y through without t e t c h i n g a i r y wing,* and g i v i n g him h i s solemn word of honor that i f he, (Sam) would only f i g h t him, (Jonas), he, (Jonas) wouldn't h i t him, (Sam), an i n c h above h i s h i p bone — which was c e r t a i n l y e n c o u r a g i n g . ^ But  the p r e v a l e n t tone i n h i s book i s f a r too  to be c l a s s e d i n any but  the broadest  intellectual  definition  of  frontier  humor -- a humor which becomes more pure as i t approaches the o r a l humor of the f r o n t i e r s m a n frontiersmen ticularly  himself.  of the South would enjoy  the understatement, he  Although  the hyperboles,  c e r t a i n l y would not  the parconsciously  toy with f i g u r e s i n t h i s manner: T h i s d i s t i n g u i s h e d lawyer, u n l i k e the m a j o r i t y of those f a v o r e d s u b j e c t s of the b i o g r a p h i c a l muse, whom a p a t r i o t i c ambition to add to the moral t r e a s u r e s of the country, has p r e v a i l e d on, over the i n s t i n c t s of a n a t i v e and prof e s s i o n a l modesty, t o supply s u b j e c t s f o r the pens and p e n c i l s of t h e i r f r i e n d s , was not q u i t e , e i t h e r i n a l i t e r a l or metaphorical sense, a self-made man. He had a n c e s t o r s . " Much of Baldwin's F l u s h Times f a l l s of f r o n t i e r humor, then, and not because i t i s the  i n t o the  classification  only because i t i s about the frontier.  frontier,  18  And the most p r i s t i n e f r o n t i e r humor is.  t  is,  n  e  South.  That  the elements of the f r o n t i e r are u b i q u i t o u s w i t h i n the  stories.  To compare Longstreet and Baldwin with Johnson  Hooper i s t o f i n d  a p a t t e r n of development  towards  Jones  a literary  r e a l i s m that tends to fuse the f r o n t i e r s m a n and h i s speech with the t h i n g s he knows i n t o a humor which he h i m s e l f accept.  Partially  by the men  d e r i v e d from an o r a l t r a d i t i o n  would  fostered  on the f r o n t i e r , the essence of f r o n t i e r humor  seems to be w i t h i n the c h a r a c t e r s ' speech. more, developments  Three, i f not  to be seen i n Hooper's masterpiece, Simon  Suggs (1845), apparently conduced t o i n c r e a s e the amount of t h i s language.  These developments  are:  Hooper's  intensive  treatment of one c l a s s , the southern poor white; h i s i n v e n t i o n of a s t r o n g c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r , Simon Suggs;  and the  author's s t r i c t  activity,  adherence to a theme of economic  i m p l y i n g , even n e c e s s i t a t i n g the i n t e r a c t i o n of c h a r a c t e r s , and t h i s v e r b a l l y , i f not i n o t h e r ways.  Hooper c o n s i s t e n t l y  e x c e l s L o n g s t r e e t and Baldwin i n comic p l o t and d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n s of f r o n t i e r l i f e ,  or perhaps more a c c u r a t e l y ,  what became the d e t a i l s of the s t e r e o t y p e d f r o n t i e r  life.  Hooper, u n l i k e L o n g s t r e e t , whose s t a t e d d e s i r e was w r i t e about "the manners, customs,  to  amusements, w i t , d i a l e c t ,  as they appear i n a l l grades of s o c i e t y t o an ear and eye 20 witness t o them,"  sensed that i t was  the middle group, not  the  p l a n t e r or s l a v e , but the poor white which would p r o v i d e  the  best m a t e r i a l f o r humor.  An o d d i t y i n h i m s e l f ,  fettered  by p o v e r t y and f r e e d by h i s c o l o r , t h i s f r o n t i e r s m a n became  19 the s t a p l e of s u c c e s s i v e f r o n t i e r humorists.  F u r t h e r , Hooper's  c h a r a c t e r s speak more and speak more t y p i c a l l y the speech f r o n t i e r humor than those of Longstreet or Baldwin.  of  Finally,  while those humorists have no s t r o n g c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r i n t h e i r episodes. Hooper has sarily  a very s t r o n g , although not  c o n s i s t e n t c h a r a c t e r , Simon Suggs —  the f i r s t  neces-  a s c o u n d r e l of  order.  Having  cheated h i s f a t h e r at cards f o r a horse  and  c e a l i n g with tobacco the pinch of gun powder he l e f t  con-  in his  mother's p i p e bowl, Simon leaves home t o make h i s way  to  Atlanta.  shifty  He  l i v e s up t o h i s motto, " I t i s good t o be 21  i n a new  country,"  by a c t u a l l y d i s a p p e a r i n g f o r twenty  years d u r i n g which time he p e r f e c t s h i m s e l f i n the a r t of l i v i n g "as m e r r i l y and as comfortably 22 expense of o t h e r s . . . . "  as p o s s i b l e at the  Thus, Simon i s a mature and  s c o u n d r e l f o r most of the book.  experienced  H i s t a l e n t s are c h i e f l y  those  of p r e y i n g on those weaknesses of human nature which are heightened by the a b n o r m a l i t i e s of f r o n t i e r l i f e ,  and he  would more than l i k e l y p e r i s h i n any other s o c i e t y . is,  That  Simon's e x p l o i t s are those of f r o n t i e r s c o u n d r e l s .  i s " s h i f t y " i n both senses  of the word.  He  He i s a dishonest  wanderer, a f o r t u n e - s e e k i n g p i c a r o , a f i g u r e common t o much f r o n t i e r humor. To f i n d the American p i c a r o we must f o l l o w the American p i o n e e r ; the f r o n t i e r i s the n a t u r a l h a b i t a t of the adventurer. The q u a l i t i e s f o s t e r e d by the f r o n t i e r were the q u a l i t i e s i n d i s p e n s a b l e to the p i c a r o : nomadism, i n s e n s i b i l i t y to danger, shrewdness, nonchalance, g a i t y . 2 3  20  While Davy C r o c k e t t or Mike Fink might have a l l of these q u a l i t i e s , Simon most d e c i d e d l y does not.  Rather, h i s  i n o r d i n a t e shrewdness and s e l f - c o n c e r n leads him t o be extremely s e n s i t i v e to the remotest p o s s i b i l i t y  of  danger.  H i s nomadism i s t h e r e f o r e not that of the adventurer but that of a man  fleeing pursuit.  l i v e d and without depth. but the reader r a r e l y f e l l o w s might of a man  And h i s g a i e t y i s s h o r t -  He i s r e p o r t e d t o be a r e v e l l e r ,  sees t h i s aspect of him.  take f o r nonchalance  What Simon's  i s u s u a l l y the detachment  f o l l o w i n g the machinations of h i s scheming mind.  As Hooper*8 c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of Simon serves to f u r t h e r the development of the humorous f r o n t i e r p i c a r o i n l i t e r a t u r e , so does h i s use of language nique.  Here,  reveal h i s s k i l l f u l  comic t e c h -  as i n other aspects of f r o n t i e r humor per se.  Hooper proves to have f a r more genius than e i t h e r Longstreet or Baldwin.  Like those humorists. Hooper uses a t h i r d person  p o i n t of view, but he can mix standard E n g l i s h and the f r o n t i e r s m a n ' s language  f o r comic e f f e c t .  he e x p l a i n s Simon's reasoning about says, "As f o r those branches  For i n s t a n c e , when  f i n a n c i a l matters. Hooper  of the business [ o f l a n d s p e c u l a -  t i o n ] , he [Simon] regarded them as only f i t f o r purse-proud clod-heads. Any f o o l , he reasoned, c o u l d s p e c u l a t e i f he had 25 / money.™ But even more s u c c e s s f u l as f r o n t i e r humor (and l e s s f r e q u e n t ) i s Simon*s own  speech.  At h i s b e s t . Hooper's  o  manifest s e n s i t i v i t y tive  language  to the i n c o n g r u i t i e s of f r o n t i e r  figura-  i s almost u n r i v a l l e d by h i s contemporaries.  21  For example, c a l l i n g f o r people t o pray at a camp meeting which he l a t e r b i l k s , Simon says, "Ante upl ...don't out!  Here am J , the wickedest... of sinners...now  narry p a i r and won  a pile.  back  come i n on  ...the b l u f f game a i n ' t p l a y e d  herel  ...Everybody h o l d s f o u r aces, and when you bet  win! *  Even more c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of what becomes the  1  you stylized  f i g u r a t i v e language of the best f r o n t i e r humor are r e f e r e n c e s to f r o n t i e r o b j e c t s and animals.  Simon, d e s c r i b i n g h i s  bravery as he g i v e s h i s q u a l i f i c a t i o n s f o r l e a d e r s h i p of the motley  " T a l l a p o o s y Volluntares,*» uses j u s t such  but e f f e c t i v e s i m i l e : men,  Simon Suggs w i l l  "Let who  an  incongruous  run [away from danger], g e n t l e -  a l l e r s be found t h a r s t i c k i n g thar, l i k e 27  a t i c k onder a cow's b e l l y . "  The  i n c o n g r u i t y of d e s c r i b i n g  bravery i n terms of the stubborn t e n a c i t y of a t i c k p r o v i d e s the humor —  the j u x t a p o s i t i o n of heroism  p a r a s i t e may,  and a blood-sucking  indeed, serve to comment on Simon's c h a r a c t e r  as w e l l . F u r t h e r , Hooper, l i k e Longstreet and Baldwin, 28 juxtaposes L a t i n a t e language  often  and f r o n t i e r terminology f o r  humorous e f f e c t .  Thus, Hooper w r i t e s , " I t was...an e a r l y  hour; i n f a c t —  speaking a c c o r d i n g to the c h r o n o m e t r i c a l  standard i n use  at F o r t Suggs —  not more than  'fust-drink  29 time....'" masculine,  More o f t e n , however. Hooper achieves a l e s s l e s s racy humor by going i n the opposite d i r e c t i o n ,  from p l a i n prose t o euphemised terms. desired...a certain  "The  widow Haycock  'plug' of tobacco...to supply her p i p e . "  22  But, having gotten t h i s "plug*, she r e t u r n s t o F o r t Suggs 30 "with the weed of comfort  i n her hand."  As these  examples  might i n d i c a t e . Hooper o f t e n uses the I n c o n g r u i t i e s of language to e f f e c t f r o n t i e r humor and t h i s more p u r p o s e f u l l y than  Longstreet or  Baldwin.  Hooper's r e p e t i t i o u s theme of embezzlement enables to  him  g a i n concrete and sometimes humorous examples of the poor 31  whites' independence and p o v e r t y . reliance  The  frontiersman's  ( s p e c i f i c a l l y , h i s code's a r t i c l e which  self-  virtually  p r o h i b i t e d him from i n t e r f e r i n g with another man's b u s i n e s s ) lends c r e d i b i l i t y to Simon's f r a u d u l e n t escapades — which i n d i c a t e the f a s t tempo of f r o n t i e r l i f e . the speed with which Simon turns any  escapades  Certainly,  s i t u a t i o n to h i s advantage  and the r a p i d t r a n s f e r e n c e of money i n h i s d e a l s tend to g i v e Hooper's s t o r i e s the tone of more and f a s t e r a c t i o n that the s t o r i e s of Longstreet  and  Baldwin.  In Simon Suggs. Hooper, through  the c r e a t i o n of h i s  p i c a r e s q u e hero, h i s r e g i o n a l i s m , and h i s s t o r i e s of a c t i o n , combines many elements of the best f r o n t i e r humor.  H i s work  l a c k s but one  the  element of the best f r o n t i e r humor --  frontiersman's n a r r a t i o n .  Perhaps Hooper i n t u i t i v e l y  n i z e s the r e a l source of the autocthonic American and  recogthe  most laughable humor i n h i s book, when he laments the inadequacy of  h i s own  event  pen f o r the task of r e c o r d i n g such  as Simon's m i l i t a r y c a r e e r .  mately Simon would be h i s own  a memorable  Hooper decides t h a t  best b i o g r a p h e r :  ulti-  "Would t h a t .  23  l i k e Caesar, he [Simon] c o u l d w r i t e h i m s e l f t  Then,  should Harvard y i e l d him honors, and h i s country Indeed, the best  Courtship form —  (I843),  and most p r i s t i n e f r o n t i e r humor i s ,  thus uses the e p i s t o l a r y form.  In t h i s  p o p u l a r i z e d by Seba Smith, the Northerner  characterizes himself.  who  created  the c e n t r a l c h a r a c t e r u n w i t t i n g l y  While Major Jones i s a b e l i e v a b l e  c h a r a c t e r and uses f r o n t i e r f i g u r e s as a means of  and  in his  W i l l i a m Tappan Thompson, i n Major Jones's  Jack Downing i n the 1830*s —  these  32 justice!""^  —  l i k e the r e a l " o r a t u r e , " t o l d by the frontiersman i n i m i t a b l e speech.  indeed,  expression,  l e t t e r s are about the domestic a f f a i r s i n s e t t l e d  consequently  f r o n t i e r humor. merit may  l a c k the f u r i o u s a c t i o n common to the  areas best  In f a c t , B l a i r f i n d s that " t h e i r g r e a t e s t  b e . . . i n t h e i r l i m n i n g of P i n e v i l l e , • . . [ t h e ] d e p i c 33  t i o n of community and domestic e x i s t e n c e . " * ^ Jones's l e t t e r s perhaps d e s c r i b e l i f e  represent  growing awareness of the comic value of the  order.  In the s t o r y , a l i t e r a t e and i n t e r e s t e d aboard a M i s s i s s i p p i  This n a r r a t i o n i n c l u d e s a verbatim Bar" h i m s e l f .  B i g Bear of  on the " B i g Bar," a f r o n t i e r s m a n  n a r r a t o r r e p o r t s h i s experience  "Big  humorists*  language.  A r k a n s a s " ( I 8 4 1 ) , focuses  boat.  the  frontiersman's  C e r t a i n l y Thomas Bangs Thorpe, i n h i s "The  of the f i r s t  although  i n a Southern town more  than on the Southern f r o n t i e r , they may  c h a r a c t e r and  Thus,  steam-  s t o r y t o l d by  the  At l e a s t as o l d as Chaucer*s Canterbury  T a l e s , t h i s n a r r a t i v e device, the mock o r a l t a l e  (known a l s o  24  as the framework n a r r a t i v e , s t o r y - w i t h i n - a - s t o r y , and the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e ) , i s of immense value t o the f r o n t i e r humorists.  Through  i t s use they developed m u l t i f a r i o u s  l e v e l s of i n c o n g r u i t y , ^ long known t o be the s i n e qua non 3  of comedy.  But whatever humor a r i s e s from these i n c o n g r u i t i e s ,  the most important value of the mock o r a l t a l e i n r e l a t i o n t o f r o n t i e r humor i s that i t p r o v i d e s f o r an abundant q u a n t i t y of humorous f r o n t i e r  speech.  In Thorpe's s t o r y , the n a r r a t o r d e s c r i b e s the B i g Bar, * n  1  **who walked i n t o the cabin, took a c h a i r , put h i s f e e t on the stove, [and proceeded t o e x t o l the g l o r i e s of Arkansas] ... the c r e a t i o n s t a t e , . . * a s t a t e where the s i l e runs down t o the c e n t r e of the * a r t h . . . I t * s a s t a t e without f a u l t ,  i t is.** 35  [And one passenger's r e t o r t ] " E x c e p t i n g mosquitoes,*"^ cates the " B i g B a r ' s " rambling comments on Arkansas  predi-  mosquitoes.  Thus, the raconteur f i g u r e , the " B i g B a r , " continues t o r e l a t e short anecdotes about' h i s home s t a t e .  The c u l m i n a t i n g yarn  i s about a mysterious, g i a n t bear who,  after  successfully  e l u d i n g the " B i g B a r " and h i s dogs f o r t h r e e y e a r s , submits to h i s end by walking i n t o the " B i g B a r ' s " f i e l d s the day before the " B i g B a r " had vowed t o hunt him. B a r ' s " reverent o p i n i o n  With the " B i g  (that t h i s p a r t i c u l a r bear "was  unhuntable bar, and d i e d when h i s time come."  an  ) ringing in  t h e i r ears, the whole group i s d e p i c t e d by the o r i g i n a l narrator.  They s i t ,  silently  contemplating the m y s t e r i e s of  the s t o r y f o r a few moments b e f o r e the " B i g Bar" "asked a l l  25  present  to • l i q u o r ,  1  [and] long before day, I [ t h e o r i g i n a l  n a r r a t o r ] was put ashore and...can only f o l l o w . . . i n imagina-  37 tion  our Arkansas  friend...."^  Indeed, the B i g Bar** i s a memorable c h a r a c t e r .  His  n  language, h i s manner, the a t t e n t i o n of h i s a u d i t o r s , and h i s mysterious s t o r y r e f l e c t t h i s b o i s t e r o u s , f u n - l o v i n g , supers t i t i o u s braggart's indigenous who proudly  character.  Thorpe a l s o sketches  t o the American f r o n t i e r — distort  in their regions.  a cabin f u l l  a scene of men  i n t h e i r own language the m e r i t s of l i f e Thorpe p o r t r a y s both c h a r a c t e r and scene  through the framework n a r r a t i v e . i s Thorpe at h i s b e s t .  But "The B i g Bear of Arkansas"  In f a c t , B l a i r says,  "Unfortunately  the t a l e i s not t y p i c a l of him.  More o f t e n , he wrote  passably  good but e s s e n t i a l l y  about v a r i o u s aspects  of the  frontier...."  d u l l essays  38 J  George Washington H a r r i s , however, uses the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e c o n s i s t e n t l y ; and t h i s was at l e a s t f o r h i s success. telling  a partial  reason  "He learned t o employ the best method f o r  a s t o r y . . . , making the most of the framework  technique  39 for setting  forth  a mock o r a l t a l e . " - '  In the " P r e f a c e " to  Sut Lovingood. the t y p i c a l format of the best t a l e s  i n the  book i s e s t a b l i s h e d : 'You must have a p r e f a c e , S u t ; your book w i l l then be ready. What s h a l l I w r i t e : ' 'Well, i f I must, I must... Sometimes, George I wished I c o u l d read and w r i t e j u s t a l i t t l e . . . If I could w r i t e myself, i t would then r e a l l y been my book.*40  26  Thus, George, the w r i t e r , w i l l r e c o r d Sut's them.  t a l e s as he t e l l s  Through the use of t h i s d e v i c e , H a r r i s c o n s i s t e n t l y  b r i d g e s the gap between the p r i n t e d page and the i l l i t e r a t e , h e l l - r a i s i n g backwoodsman. Sut in  Lovingood d i f f e r s from the other f i g u r e s examined  t h i s chapter.  H i s love of sheer d e v i l t r y  and h i s very  human f o i b l e s separate him from Simon Suggs and the " B i g Bar.. * 1  Sut's youth and i l l i t e r a c y  separate him from Major Jones; and  no c h a r a c t e r i n Longstreet»s or Baldwin's works approaches the s t a t u r e of H a r r i s ' s - r a c o n t e u r . cality  Sut's down-to-earth p r a c t i -  i s p e r v a s i v e ; and the s u b j e c t s of h i s thoughts range  extensively —  from s e x ^ (a t o p i c almost f o r e i g n t o the other  humorists) to w r i t i n g a p r e f a c e to a book.  Sut f i n d s the  l a t t e r to be: ...a l i t t l e l i k e c u t t i n of the Ten Commandments i n t o the r i n d of a watermelon: i t ' s j u s t s l a s h e d open and the i n s i d e et outen i t , the r i n d and the Commandments broke a l l t o p i e c e s and f l u n g to the hogs and never thought of once't — them nor the t a r n a l f o o l what cut 'em t h e r e . (SL x x x i ) H i s human s p i t e f u l n e s s and f r o n t i e r p r e j u d i c e s are r e v e a l e d in  one c r i t i c ' s  long l i s t  of Sut's  "Yankee p e d d l a r s , Yankee lawyers,  antipathies.  These a r e :  Yankee s c i s s o r - g r i n d e r s ,  any k i n d of Yankee, s h e r i f f s , most preachers,  l e a r n e d men  who use b i g words, tavern keepers who serve bad food and reformers." and  Himself  a reformer,  an ardent Southerner.  Through h i s independence, he becomes  perhaps the epitome of Jacksonian insights,  Sut i s a l s o a h i c k p h i l o s o p h e r  democracy; and through h i s  a vehicle for his creator's i d e a s . ^  As a p r a n k s t e r .  27  Sat  i s o f t e n the c a t a l y s t that s t a r t s the r i o t o u s  confusion  of h i 8 s t o r i e s ; and beyond whatever appeal h i s a c t i o n s give him,  Sut's language makes him  may  more l i v e l y , more humanly  manscullne, and more humorous than any  other  character  i n the  genre* The  s t a p l e of humorous f r o n t i e r language i s the  g r u i t y of h y p e r b o l i c  f i g u r e s ; and g e n e r a l l y , the humor of  these d i s t o r t i o n s i s p r o p o r t i o n a t e the object  and the  image.  to the c o n t r a s t between  H a r r i s ' s mastery of these  g r u i t i e s i n t h i s speech i s perhaps the best Indeed, one  incon-  i n the  incon-  genre.  c r i t i c f i n d s , " I f h i s [ H a r r i s ' s ] w r i t i n g s were  b e t t e r than the r e s t [of the f r o n t i e r h u m o r i s t s ' ] ,  they were  b e t t e r because he had more sense of i n c o n g r u i t i e s , more exuberance, more i m a g i n a t i o n . . . . " ^ per se and Sut  incongruity  the l a r g e number of f r o n t i e r f i g u r e s i n h i s speech,  Lovingood i s u n r i v a l e d .  bosom s u b s t a n t i a t e s says,  In terms of  "Such a bosomt  His d e s c r i p t i o n of S i c i l y  Burns*s  H a r r i s ' s "sense of i n c o n g r u i t i e s . * * Just think of two  strawberry stuck butt-ended i n t o both on i n d e s c r i b i n g Bake Boyd*s suggestion g r i n d e r g i v e p u b l i c l e c t u r e s , Sut number of f r o n t i e r f i g u r e s —  snow b a l l s with a *em."  (SL 3 5 )  And  that the Yankee r a z o r -  uses an unusually  more than one  f i n d i n a whole s t o r y by Baldwin or  Sut  large  is likely  Longstreet.  Bake dwelt long onto the crop of dimes to be gathered from the f i e l d [ l e c t u r i n g ] ; that he*d [the r a z o r - g r i n d e r ] make more than there.were spots onto f o r t y fawns i n J u l y , not to speak of the b i g gobs of  to  28  r e p u t a t i o n he'd t o t e away — a - s h i n i n a l l * over h i s c l o t h e s l i k e l i g h t n i n bugs onto a dog f e n n e l t o p . (SL 28) In t h i s s t o r y , as i n almost a l l of h i s s t o r i e s , Sut p l a y s a prank on a d e s e r v i n g person.  Here, Sut and Blake arrange  the l e c t u r e f o r the a v a r i c i o u s Yankee r a z o r - g r i n d e r , prompt him too q u i e t l y sounds  and then too l o u d l y  clownishly  ( i n a language  that  l i k e Cherokee), and, at the h e i g h t of the l e c t u r e r ' s  embarrassed  c o n f u s i o n , they shoot a cannon and douse him with  a " h a l f b a r r e l f u l of water outen a puddle where a m i s f o r t u n a t e (SL 29)  dead sow had been f l o a t i n f o r ten days. * 1  house cartoon i s made of j u s t  such s t u f f .  The movie-  What i s humorous  i s the u t t e r chaos, the c o n f u s i o n of t h i n g s , and the p a i n of the v i l l a i n who  i s never permanently d i s a b l e d .  Sut's pranks  i n v o l v e a l l of these elements; and the f r o n t i e r d i a l e c t i n which they are t o l d might be seen as a p a r a l l e l to the strange scene c r e a t e d by the animator's pen, f o r both h e l p t o remove the a c t i o n from r e a l i t y .  Yet Sut's own  realistic  thoughts  and emotions render h i s s t o r i e s something more than simple parables.  F r o n t i e r humor i s at i t s most humorous when speedy  a c t i o n i s b e i n g r e l a t e d by a capable and w i t t y r a c o n t e u r . D e t a i l e d and f i g u r a t i v e - d e s c r i p t i o n s of c o n f u s i o n , and humorously  p a i n f u l and dangerous  raconteur's s t o c k - i n - t r a d e .  breakage,  circumstances are the  H i s incongruous  language  heightens the incongruous chaos i n t o the u n r e a l but  altogether  j u s t i f i e d l o g i c of comedy i n the world of f a n t a s y . In Sut Lovingood. H a r r i s combines the best elements of f r o n t i e r humor to produce a wealth of anecdotal f a r c e .  He  29  draws h i s c h a r a c t e r s q u i c k l y and makes e s s e n t i a l l y themes and d u l l p l o t s i n t e r e s t i n g . unquestionable  trite  To a l a r g e extent H a r r i s *  s u p e r i o r i t y d e r i v e s from h i s c o n s i s t e n t use  of the framework n a r r a t i v e .  Through i t , Sut speaks,  and  through H a r r i s ' s v i v i d i m a g i n a t i o n , Sut becomes f a r more than an untutored bumpkin.  In f a c t , Sut's d i v e r s e and  innumerable  b u c o l i c f i g u r e s make him the best s t o r y - t e l l e r of a booklength work and h i s quick and r e t r i b u t i v e mind make him s t r o n g e s t c h a r a c t e r i n the works examined i n t h i s  the  chapter.  At once he i s p r e c i s e and p o e t i c ; s i m u l t a n e o u s l y , he i s i n s i g h t f u l and a c t i v e . to an i n d i v i d u a l ,  In him the growth from genus American  a Southern,  devil-may-care mountaineer of  immense p r o p o r t i o n s , c u l m i n a t e s .  H i s values are those of the  f r o n t i e r and i n h i s p r e s e n t a t i o n , the reader accepts them. As a f i r s t - r a t e the Southern  raconteur, Sut has  orator —  at l e a s t one q u a l i t y of  "'What o r a t o r , ' s a i d a Kentuckian,  'can deign t o r e s t r a i n h i s i m a g i n a t i o n w i t h i n a v u l g a r and s t e r i l e s t a t e of  facts?"*  The growth from Sut Lovingood.  4 5  an essay t o an o r a l humor culminates i n  Indeed, Walter B l a i r f i n d s t h a t " i n Sut L o v i n  good the antebellum humor of the South reaches i t s h i g h e s t l e v e l of achievement before Mark Twain. And Faulkner i s , I t h i n k , the best f r o n t i e r s i n c e Mark Twain.  humorist  30  FOOTNOTES:  CHAPTER I I .  F. 0 . M a t t h i e 8 s e n f i n d s that " f r o z e n - f a c e d exaggerat i o n had been a p a r t of our t r a d i t i o n at l e a s t as f a r back as F r a n k l i n . When c o n f r o n t e d i n London (1765) with a mass of m i s i n f o r m a t i o n and f a l s e h o o d about America, i n s t e a d of denying them he i r o n i c a l l y vouched f o r t h e i r t r u t h by capping them with others of h i s own i n v e n t i o n . In a l e t t e r to a newspaper he spoke of the cod and whale f i s h i n g i n the upper Lakes, and added: 'Ignorant people may o b j e c t that the upper Lakes are f r e s h , and that Cod and Whale are S a l t Water F i s h : but l e t them know. S i r , t h a t Cod, l i k e other F i s h when a t t a c k ' d by t h e i r Enemies, f l y i n t o any Water where they can be s a f e s t ; that Whales, when they have a mind to eat Cod, pursue them wherever they f l y ; and that the grand Leap of the Whale i n the Chase up the F a l l of Niagara i s esteemed, by a l l who have seen i t , as one of the f i n e s t S p e c t a c l e s i n Nature.*'" (F. 0 . Matthiessen, American Renaissance: A r t and E x p r e s s i o n i n the Age of Emerson"and Whitman (New York. 1941). p. 639. o  1960),  Walter B l a i r , Native American Humor (San F r a n c i s c o , p. 17.  ^Constance fiourke, "Examining the Soots of American Humor," American S c h o l a r . IV ( S p r i n g , 1935), 252. E b y comments: " i n the Southwest a man from the next county was a s t r a n g e r , one from the next s t a t e a f o r e i g n e r , and one from north of the Ohio was an i n h a b i t a n t of a d i f f e r e n t c e l e s t i a l w o r l d . " (Eby, p. 14-) 4  ^Others who are s i g n i f i c a n t f i g u r e s i n t h i s genre a r e : Madison Tensas, M.D. (pseudonym), S o l Smith, Joseph M. F i e l d , and John S. Robb. The q u a n t i t y and p o p u l a r i t y of t h e i r m a t e r i a l warranted the p u b l i c a t i o n of c o l l e c t i o n s of t h e i r work. There i s an immense number of men w i t h i n the p e r i p h e r i e s of t h i s f i e l d , through t h e i r c o n t r i b u t i o n s of s i n g l e l e t t e r s or s t o r i e s to the backwoods newspapers and The S p i r i t of the Times, the most widely read and l a r g e s t s i n g l e source f o r r e g i o n a l humor. In t h i s chapter I present a s i m p l i f i e d h i s t o r y of the genre's growth; my major c o n c l u s i o n s , however, are subs t a n t i a t e d by such eminent c r i t i c s i n t h i s f i e l d as Walter B l a i r , F r a n k l i n J . Meine, and Bernard De Voto. ^John J . H e f l i n says, "A r a t h e r vast o r a l l i t e r a t u r e , an ' o r a t u r e , * must be r e c o g n i z e d as h a v i n g e x i s t e d on the frontier. ...Yarn s p i n n i n g and the r e l a t i o n of anecdotes found t h e i r way i n t o p r e a c h i n g ; the a b i l i t y to t e l l a good s t o r y was a prime r e q u i s i t e i n e c c l e s i a s t i c a l promotion. P o l i t i c a l orators delighted i n l e t t i n g t h e i r imaginations soar, p o u r i n g f o r t h t h u n d e r i n g metaphors i n h i g h l y i n f l e c t e d  31  language. C o r o l l a r y o r a l a r t s which must be mentioned are the b a l l a d and song i n which the f r o n t i e r f o l k l i t e r a t u r e abounded.** (John J . H e f l i n , J r . . George Washington H a r r i s (*»Sut Lovingood**): A B i o g r a p h i c a l and C r i t i c a l Study. V a n d e r b i l t U n i v e r s i t y Master»s T h e s i s ( N a s h v i l l e , 1934), p. 56. F r a n k l i n J . Meine f i n d s that the growth of American humor, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n the Southwest, p a r a l l e l s the growth of the newspaper. "American humor has always been a spontaneous p a r t of everyday American l i f e ; and so the newspaper, c h r o n i c l e r of d a i l y doings and l o c a l l i f e , has o f f e r e d a quick and easy v e h i c l e f o r a l l manner of humorous anecdotes, s t o r i e s and t a l l t a l e s . The American newspaper as we know i t today — the *penny p r e s s * — began g a t h e r i n g momentum s h o r t l y a f t e r I83O; and d u r i n g the p e r i o d I83O-6O, e s p e c i a l l y i n the South and Southwest, i t s growth was n o t a b l y rapid.** ( F r a n k l i n J . Meine, ed.. T a l l T a l e s of the Southwest (New York, 1930), x x v i i . ) [Augustus Baldwin L o n g s t r e e t ] , Georgia Scenes (New York, 1897), P- 32. g I b i d . . p. 33. Many of the f r o n t i e r humorists use i t a l i c s , m i s s p e l l i n g s and emphatic p u n c t u a t i o n to represent the o r a l humor of u n t u t o r e d f r o n t i e r s m e n . 9  1 0  U  I b i d . , p. 220. I b i d . . p.  I b i d . . P.  1 2  221. 65.  I b i d . . p. 81.  *^In "The *Charming C r e a t u r e * as a Wife," a young Georgian lawyer r e c e i v e s a l e t t e r from h i s i n d u s t r i o u s mother i n the country, not u n l i k e those Richardson's Pamela r e c e i v e d from her parents at S q u i r e B...*s. The opening l i n e s of t h i s l e t t e r w i l l g i v e c l e a r i n d i c a t i o n of L o n g s t r e e t * s c a p a b i l i t i e s i n this vein. "We a l l admit...the value of i n d u s t r y , economy — in s h o r t , of a l l the domestic and s o c i a l v i r t u e s ; but how s m a l l the number who p r a c t i c e themt Golden sentiments are to be p i c k e d up a n y w h e r e . " ( I b i d . . p. 121.) ^ H e f o o t n o t e s Ned Brace's e x p l e t i v e , " d — n the man," with t h i s apology: " I should c e r t a i n l y omit such e x p r e s s i o n s as t h i s , c o u l d I do so with h i s t o r i c f i d e l i t y ; but the p e c u l i a r i t i e s of the times of which I am w r i t i n g cannot be f a i t h f u l l y r e p r e s e n t e d without them. In r e c o r d i n g t h i n g s as they are, t r u t h r e q u i r e s me sometimes t o put profane language i n t o the mouths of my c h a r a c t e r s . " ( I b i d . . p. 51.)  32  15  Joseph 6. Baldwin, The F l a s h Times of Alabama and Mississippi A S e r i e s of'Sketches (New York. 185it). Herea f t e r r e f e r r e d t o as F l u s h Times. * ^ B l a i r , Native American Humor, p. 78. 17  Baldwin,  p. 161.  1 8  I b i d . . p. 195-  1 9  I b i d . . p. 121.  20 Bishop 0. P. F i t z g e r a l d , Judge L o n g s t r e e t : A L i f e Sketch ( N a s h v i l l e , 1891), PP. 164-166, as quoted by B l a i r i n N a t i v e American Humor, p. 65 • 21 Johnson Jones Hooper, Adventures of Captain Simon Suggs together with Taking the Census and other Alabama sketches ( P h i l a d e l p h i a . 18L&). p. 12. While Simon Suggs i s Hooper's l i t e r a r y masterpiece, some of h i s o t h e r works a r e : A Ride with O l d K i t Kuncker (1849), Dog and Gun (1856), Read and C i r c u l a t e (1855). and Woodward's Reminiscences (185sY»  22  '"ibid. L u c y L. Hazard, "The American P i c a r e s q u e , " The TransM i s s i s s i P P i West (Boulder, 1930), p. 198 as quoted by B l a i r i n N a t i v e American Humor, p. 87. 2 3  S i m o n * s emotional responses are o f t e n m e c h n i c a l . In one episode, Simon's " t e a r s r o l l e d down h i s f a c e , as n a t u r a l l y as i f they had been c a l l e d f o r t h by r e a l emotion, i n s t e a d of b e i n g pumped up m e c h a n i c a l l y t o g i v e e f f e c t t o the scene." (Hooper, p. 62.) 24  2 5  I b i d . , p . 35.  2 6  I b i d . . pp. 129-130.  2 7  I b i d . , p. 88.  28 This s i m i l a r i t y may r e s u l t from the f a c t that L o n g s t r e e t , Baldwin and Hooper were lawyers. 29, Hooper, p. 97. 3  1.  °Ibid.. p . 9 0 .  31,  Perhaps somewhat grim by modern standards, but undoubtedly humorous t o the f r o n t i e r s m e n of Hooper's time i s a woman who i s : "accounted wealthy i n c o n s i d e r a t i o n of the f a c t that she  33  had a hundred d o l l a r s i n money, and was the undisputed of one e n t i r e negro." ( I b i d . . pp. 85-86.) 3 2  I b i d . . p.  3 3  Blair,  owner  82.  Native American Humor, p.  89.  ^ I b i d . . p. 92. B l a i r f i n d s "the method was p a r t i c u l a r l y r i c h i n i t s u n d e r l i n i n g of t h r e e types of i n c o n g r u i t i e s . " These are quoted i n Chapter I I I , pp. 4 1 - 4 3 of t h i s t h e s i s . 3  •^Thomas Bangs Thorpe, " B i g Bear of Arkansas," i n F r a n k l i n J . Meine, T a l l Tales of the Southwest (New York,  1930), pp. 9, 11-12. 3 6  I b i d . . p.  3 7  Ibid.  3 8  Blair,  3 9  I b i d . . p.  p.  [21].  95101.  ^ G e o r g e Washington H a r r i s , " P r e f a c e " , Sut Lovingood. ed. Brom Weber (New York, 1954), x x x i . H e r e a f t e r r e f e r r e d to as SL with page r e f e r e n c e s i n parentheses. In the " P r e f a c e " Sut reverses the mock e p i c sentiments of Longstreet's lament: "Most book weavers seem to be scary f o l k s , f o r g e n e r a l l y they comes up t o the s l a u g h t e r pen s h i n i n and waggin t h e i r t a i l s , a-sayin: they 'knows they i s i m p e r f e c t , ' t h a t 'fou'd scarce expect one of my f i t , ' and so f o r t h , so on, so along. Now, i f I i s a-rowin i n that boat I a i n ' t aware of i t , I a i n ' t ; f o r I knows the tremendous g i f t I has f o r breedin scares among durned f o o l s . . . " (SL x x x i i i ) ^*"But then, George, g a l s and o l e maids a i n ' t the t h i n g s to f o o l time away on. I t ' s widders, by g o l l y , what am the r e a l s e n s i b l e , steady-goin, n e v e r - s c a r i n , n e v e r - k i c k i n , w i l l i n , s p i r i t e d , smooth p a c e r s . They come c l o s e ' t up t o the hossb l o c k , s t a n d i n s t i l l with t h e i r p u r t y , s i l k y ears p l a y i n g and the neck-veins a-throbbin, and waits f o r the word.... Give me a w i l l i n widder the e a r t h over: what they don't know a i n ' t worth l e a r n i n . They has a l l benn to Jamaicy and l e a r n t how sugar's made, and knows how t o sweeten with i t .... Widders am a s p e c i a l means, George, f o r r i p e n i n green men, k i l l i n o f f weak ones, and makin ' t e r n a l l y happy the sound ones." (SL 178-179) ^ Blair, 2  Native American Humor, p.  97-  34 43  Brom Weber f i n d s t h a t , i n p a r t "Sut o b v i o u s l y f u n c t i o n s as a device t o c a r r y forward a s a t i r i c a l d i s c u s s i o n of p o l i t i c a l and economic a f f a i r s , as w e l l as H a r r i s ' s thought about such matters as r e l i g i o n , temperance, women, and s e n t i m e n t a l i t y . These wide-ranging i n t e n t i o n s of H a r r i s ' s overlapped, i n e v i t a b l y so because he was unable t o devote h i m s e l f e x c l u s i v e l y t o e i t h e r f i c t i o n or j o u r n a l i s m . " (SL x x i i i ) H e f l i n e x p l a i n s , "A man of ambition i n the Tennessee of t h a t day was very l i k e l y t o f i n d h i m s e l f b u s i l y engaged i n p o l i t i c s . The South's best minds were n o t o r i o u s l y t u r n e d i n that d i r e c t i o n . " (Heflin, p . 22.) 4 4  Blair,  N a t i v e American Humor, p.  101.  C o n s t a n c e Rourke, American Humor: A Study of the N a t i o n a l C h a r a c t e r (New York, 1953), P» 58. 45  ^ B l a i r , Native American Humor, p. 101. Meine i m p l i c i t l y substantiates t h i s : "For v i v i d i m a g i n a t i o n , comic p l o t . R a b e l a i s i a n touch, and sheer f u n , the Sut Lovingood Yarns surpass anything e l s e i n American humor." (Heine, p. x x i v ) And Twain h i m s e l f a t t e s t e d H a r r i s ' s genius i n a review of Sut Lovingood (1867): " I t c o n t a i n s a l l of h i s e a r l y sketches, that used t o be so p o p u l a r i n the West, such as h i s s t o r y of h i s f a t h e r ' a c t i n ' hoss,' the l i z a r d s i n the camp-meeting, e t c . , t o g e t h e r with many new ones. The book abounds i n humor .... I t w i l l s e l l w e l l i n the West, but the Eastern people w i l l c a l l i t coarse and p o s s i b l y taboo i t . " (Mark Twain, " L e t t e r from 'Mark Twain'," No. 21. Quoted i n Hennig Cohen, "Mark Twain's Sut Lovingood." The Lovingood Papers (1962), P« [19]*) « r e l a t i o n s h i p of Mark Twain t o Southwestern humor i s c l e a r . B l a i r says, "But most important of a l l [ o t h e r i n f l u e n c e s , such as Down East humor] was the i n f l u e n c e i n Mark's w r i t i n g of the humor of the o l d Southwest. He grew up with that humor. I t adorned the newspaper and p e r i o d i c a l exchanges which came to h i s b r o t h e r ' s newspaper, f o r which he set t y p e . He heard o r a l v e r s i o n s of i t i n Hannibal where he l i v e d as a boy and on the r i v e r steamboats where he worked as a young man. I t f o l l o w e d him t o the P a c i f i c Coast, where i t was p u b l i s h e d , sometimes i n i t s o l d forms, sometimes i n newly adapted forms, i n the newspapers. To i t , he was g r e a t l y indebted." ( B l a i r , N a t i v e American Humor, p. 153). Furthermore, Twain d i d i n f l u e n c e F a u l k n e r , which suggests the p o s s i b i l i t y that Southwestern humor i n f l u e n c e d F a u l k n e r through Twain, r a t h e r than d i r e c t l y . In my d i s c u s s i o n of F a u l k n e r ' s r e l a t i o n to Southwestern humor I concentrate on H a r r i s because Faulkner has expressed admiration f o r him, because Twain's i n f l u e n c e on F a u l k n e r i s i t s e l f worthy of a study l a r g e r , than t h i s t h e s i s , and because w h i l e H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood i s pure f r o n t i e r humor. Twain i s , l i k e Faulkner, much more than a f r o n t i e r humorist. 4  T n  35  III. Although  S t r u c t u r e and Technique  a w r i t e r whose s e n s i b i l i t y  i n both tragedy  encompasses extremes  and comedy and whose p r e d i l e c t i o n f o r i n c o n -  g r u i t y per se leads him t o be e s p e c i a l l y e f f e c t i v e i n such anomalies  as tragi-comedy  and the grotesque,  Faulkner o f t e n  p a r a l l e l s the s t r u c t u r e s and techniques of the Southwestern humorists  i n g e n e r a l , and H a r r i s i n p a r t i c u l a r .  the work of these r e g i o n a l humorists was f i r s t i n newspapers and c o l l e c t e d at a l a t e r date.  Typically, published  Between news-  paper p u b l i c a t i o n and t h e i r appearance i n book form, these essays  and "yarns** might be widely r e p r i n t e d o r r e v i s e d .  As  a consequence, t h e i r books are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y e p i s o d i c and sometimes i n c o n s i s t e n t .  The o s t e n s i b l e r e l a t i o n s h i p  between the s t r u c t u r e of these c o l l e c t i o n s of yarns and essays  and the s t r u c t u r e ( i n the l a r g e s t sense) of Faulkner's  t r i l o g y i s indeed  slight.  Faulkner h i m s e l f claimed t h a t he conceived the whole trilogy  at one moment i n the 'twenties.*  whether he had The Town  Asked i n 1957  (at that time unpublished)  " i n mind  f o r a long t i m e , " F a u l k n e r answered: Yes, I thought of the whole s t o r y at once l i k e a b o l t of l i g h t n i n g l i g h t s up a l a n d scape and you see e v e r y t h i n g but i t takes time t o w r i t e i t , and t h i s s t o r y I had i n my mind f o r about t h i r t y y e a r s , and the one which I w i l l do next — i t happened at that same moment, t h i r t y years ago when I thought of i t , of g e t t i n g at i t . * And  i n a l a t e r i n t e r v i e w ( a f t e r the p u b l i c a t i o n of The  36  Town) Faulkner speaks even more d i r e c t l y the t r i l o g y  about c o n c e i v i n g  as a t r i l o g y :  I d i s c o v e r e d then that to t e l l the s t o r y [of the Snopeses] p r o p e r l y would be too many words t o compress i n t o one volume. It had to be two or t h r e e . ... I would have t o keep on w r i t i n g about these people u n t i l I got i t a l l t o l d , and I assume t h a t one more book w i l l do i t , although I don't have any great hopes that i t w i l l . 2  But,  as h i s ambivalent  e x p e c t a t i o n s of t e l l i n g the whole  s t o r y might i n d i c a t e , the t r i l o g y was in  i n d u b i t a b l y expanding  i t s i m p l i c a t i o n s at t h i s time; and while Faulkner  may  have seen the " e n t i r e landscape" t h i r t y years b e f o r e , h i s execution of the t r i l o g y orderly. in  as a t r i l o g y was  In f a c t , h i s f i r s t  the short s t o r y genre,  anything but  e x p r e s s i o n s of that v i s i o n  and each novel of the  are  trilogy 3  does i n c l u d e r e v i s e d v e r s i o n s of these short s t o r i e s .  How-  ever, Faulkner executed many of h i s novels i n a s i m i l a r f a s h i o n and speaks about The Hamlet as i f t r a n s g r e s s i n g genre d i s t i n c t i o n s was him.  a matter  of l i t t l e importance  " I wrote i t i n the l a t e t w e n t i e s . . . . I t was  short s t o r i e s .  In 1940  him  In h i s  enables  to speak of the v a r i o u s forms -- short s t o r y , n o v e l ,  and t r i l o g y — of  mostly  I got i t p u l l e d t o g e t h e r . " ^  foreword to The Mansion. Faulkner i n d i c a t e s what  to  as i f they were a l l h p a r t of the same work  art: ...the author has already found more d i s c r e p a n c i e s and c o n t r a d i c t i o n s than he hopes the reader w i l l — c o n t r a d i c t i o n s and d i s c r e p a n c i e s due t o the f a c t that the author  37  has l e a r n e d , he b e l i e v e s , more about the human heart and i t s dilemma than he knew t h i r t y - f o u r years ago; and i s sure t h a t , having l i v e d with them that long time, he knows the c h a r a c t e r s i n t h i s c h r o n i c l e b e t t e r than he d i d then. Indeed, Faulkner's p r e d i l e c t i o n to view h i s work i n terms of  c h a r a c t e r r a t h e r than form  Fury:  W  I was  (he says of The Sound and  the  j u s t t r y i n g to t e l l a s t o r y of Caddy, the  l i t t l e g i r l who  muddied her drawers..."^) i n d i c a t e s that h i s  e a r l i e r v i s i o n of the t r i l o g y was  more than l i k e l y  c h a r a c t e r r a t h e r than of s t r u c t u r e .  one  of  Thus, the process  from  which the s t r u c t u r e of the Snopes t r i l o g y evolves i s p a r a l l e l to  the process of e v o l u t i o n of c o l l e c t e d e d i t i o n s of the  frontier  humorists.  While H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's works have a s i m i l a r s t r u c t u r a l genesis  (written f i r s t  as short s t o r i e s ,  l a t e r c o l l e c t e d i n t o l a r g e r works), Sut Lovingood to  be no more than  trilogy  purports  a c o l l e c t i o n of t a l e s , whereas the  i s an o r g a n i c work of a r t .  Thus, t h e i r works of  f r o n t i e r humor are s i m i l a r l y e p i s o d i c . unquestionably  and  superior literary  But Faulkner,  an  a r t i s t , excels h i s pre-  decessor i n the s u b t l e i n t r i c a c i e s of r e l a t i n g the  episodes  to  to the  the l a r g e s u p e r - s t r u c t u r e of the whole t r i l o g y ,  s t r u c t u r e of the n o v e l s , and t o other episodes i n the v i d u a l novels and the t r i l o g y .  indi-  H a r r i s r e l a t e s episode to  episode by simple v e r b a l r e f e r e n c e s ; i n h i s t r i l o g y ,  Faulkner  makes an a r t i s t i c use of what has been c a l l e d the " e p i s o d i c 7 looseness™  of such  a work as The Hamlet.  From Ab's  horse  38  trade  to Linda's purchase of the new  car, Faulkner encourages  the reader to seek p a r a l l e l s i n i n c i d e n t s .  The  free  associa-  t i o n of j u s t such episodes throughout the t r i l o g y can i r o n i c and humorous. may  evolve  Moreover, a s o r t of l i t e r a r y  from t h i s f r e e a s s o c i a t i o n .  f i n d s that " t h i s simple device  be  realism  Indeed, Olga  Vickery  of r e p e t i t i o n with v a r i a t i o n . . .  becomes i n Faulkner's hands an a s t o n i s h i n g l y e f f e c t i v e means f o r suggesting  the q u i d d i t y of experience as w e l l as the  con-  g  t i n u i t y of c e r t a i n t r a d i t i o n s i n the midst of change." the number of p a r a l l e l s and  the i r o n y and humor and  i n these comparable i n c i d e n t s i n the t r i l o g y of one  way  Thus,  realism  are i n d i c a t i o n s  i n which Faulkner's genius f o r s t r u c t u r a l o r c h e s t r a -  t i o n surpasses H a r r i s ' s . Faulkner's i n d i v i d u a l novels are s t r u c t u r a l l y more comp l e x than any  of the f r o n t i e r humorists* works p a r t l y because  of h i s tendency to experiment, e s p e c i a l l y with the of d i f f e r e n t p o i n t s  of view, and p a r t l y because h i s novels  have l a r g e c a s t s of c h a r a c t e r s . view i s i n part  intricacies  responsible  His s h i f t i n g of p o i n t s  f o r the v a r y i n g  amounts of  humor i n the three novels as w e l l as t h e i r success as  frontier novels.  For i n s t a n c e , h i s emphasis on such s e r i o u s c h a r a c t e r s , quixotically philosophic bitter  (as Mink Snopes i n The  f r o n t i e r humor as the limit  (as Gavin Stevens i n The  whether  Town) or  Mansion), tends t o l i m i t  his  themes and m i l i e u s of these l a t e r books  i t s appropriateness.  weakest of the three  of  novels.  The  Town i s s t r u c t u r a l l y the  Miss G a l b r a i t h f i n d s that  "the  39  major weakness of the novel l i e s i n the lack of  integration  of s t r u c t u r e and symbolic p a t t e r n . ...This i s p a r t l y due o the n a r r a t i v e method of The Town.**  to  Faulkner's l i m i t e d p o i n t  of view i n the n o v e l leads him to make h i s c h a r a c t e r s comment d i r e c t l y on p a r a l l e l a r t i s t i c device  i n c i d e n t s , a somewhat l e s s commendable  (and one used by the Southwestern  than that of The Hamlet, where, l e f t  humorists)  to make h i s own  estimate,  the reader i s overwhelmed by the p a r a l l e l s and m u l t i f a r i o u s i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and v a r i a t i o n s of s i m i l a r i n c i d e n t s .  Each  of the three novels c o n t a i n s i n t e r e s t i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s of sub-plot t o p l o t  as w e l l as sub-plot to s u b - p l o t ; and  Hamlet*^ i s f a r s u p e r i o r to the o t h e r novels i n the i n i t s a r t i s t i c r e n d i t i o n of these r e l a t i o n s h i p s . matters  of s t r u c t u r e , Faulkner i s more an a r t i s t  The  trilogy In a l l  than h i s  predecessor. The g r e a t e s t s i m i l a r i t y of s t r u c t u r e between Faulkner and H a r r i s l i e s i n t h e i r p a r a l l e l use of the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e f o r humorous purposes.  Faulkner does not l i m i t h i s use  of t h i s device to humorous ends alone.  In Absalom, Absalom!,  by no means a comic n o v e l , he a d r o i t l y transcends the of time and p l a c e by u s i n g t h i s s t r u c t u r e .  However, i t i s  not u n l i k e l y t h a t h i s e a r l i e s t use of t h i s device was humorous purposes,  barriers  f o r some of the comic short s t o r i e s  for (such  as "Spotted Horses") which are i n c o r p o r a t e d i n t o the Snopes t r i l o g y were w r i t t e n before 1931, • p o t - b o i l e r , * Sanctuary, But whatever the purposes  when the p u b l i c a t i o n of h i s  i n c r e a s e d the demand f o r h i s work. of h i s e a r l i e s t use of t h i s  structur  40  d e v i c e , Faulkner's use of the framework n a r r a t i v e i n the t r i l o g y i s remarkably Lovingood.  s i m i l a r t o H a r r i s ' s use of i t i n Sut  And, as i n h i s other s t r u c t u r a l  accomplishments,  Faulkner's use of t h i s device i s more a r t i s t i c , more complex, and i n the c r e a t i o n of a r e a l i s t i c  l i t e r a t u r e , more e f f e c t i v e  than H a r r i s ' s n i n e t e e n t h century use. In  Sut Lovingood.  Sut t e l l s  a l l the t a l e s ; but i n  Faulkner's t r i l o g y , many c h a r a c t e r s p a r t i c i p a t e as raconteurs of  major or minor importance.  b a s i c p o i n t of view.  That of The Hamlet i s omniscient, a l -  though c h a r a c t e r s o f t e n t e l l three people, R a t l i f f , Gavin, the s t o r i e s .  And each novel has a d i f f e r e n t  stories.  In The Town there are  and Charles M a l l i s o n , t e l l i n g  These c h a r a c t e r s i n c o r p o r a t e p a r t s of what the  other two say and r e l a t e other c h a r a c t e r s ' v e r s i o n s of the events.  The p o i n t of view i n The Mansion s h i f t s from the  omniscient  and Montgomery Ward Snopes's p o i n t s of view i n  "Mink" t o R a t l i f f ' s , Gavin's  and Charles M a l l i s o n ' s i n  "Linda** and back t o the omniscient i n **Flem.**  T h i s omniscient  p o i n t of view a l s o enables Faulkner t o make c h a r a c t e r s t e l l a story.  The p r i n c i p l e f r o n t i e r raconteur i s , of course,  R a t l i f f ; but the a c t i o n passage i n "Centaur The T o w n  11  i n Brass" i n  i s t o l d by Charles M a l l i s o n (though he, l i k e  Sterne*s T r i s t r a m Shandy, i s y e t t o be born when the i n c i d e n t takes p l a c e ) , who r e p o r t s what h i s c o u s i n , Gowan Stevens, heard about i t from the b o i l e r watchman, Mr. Harker.  The  s t r u c t u r a l c o m p l e x i t i e s of the t r i l o g y , then, d e r i v e from both the d i f f e r e n t b a s i c p o i n t s of view i n the separate novels  41  and from the f a c t  that some s t o r i e s from The Hamlet are  r e t o l d i n The Town and s t o r i e s from both of these are r e t o l d i n The Mansion,  from a p o i n t of view perhaps  from those of e a r l i e r  different  versions.  F a u l k n e r ' s use of the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e shows the same t h r e e types of i n c o n g r u i t y B l a i r f i n d s i n the f r o n t i e r humorists* use of i t . tion  The " i n c o n g r u i t y between the s i t u a -  at the time the yarn was t o l d and the s i t u a t i o n i n the 12  yarn i t s e l f * *  i s used o f t e n by Faulkner i n the t r i l o g y .  C e r t a i n l y , S a t l i f f * s v i s i o n of Flem h a g g l i n g about h i s s o u l with the D e v i l i n The Hamlet and C h a r l e s ' s account of what K a t l i f f t e l l s Gavin about Tug N i g h t i n g a l e s ' s b a t t l e with Skeets i n The Mansion  o f f e r superb examples of the comic  n e c e s s i t y of detachment that Faulkner d e r i v e s , l i k e H a r r i s , 13 through t h i s i n c o n g r u i t y .  J  Faulkner's most complex use of  the d e v i c e f o r the sake of detachment i s i n The Town.  In  t h i s n o v e l F a u l k n e r ' s use of the s t r u c t u r e and the i n c o n g r u i t y between the a c t i o n and t e l l i n g of the episodes conduces t o both bourgeois humor*  4  and f r o n t i e r humor.  C h a r l e s ' s account  of Eck Snopes's death i n the e x p l o s i o n of the o i l tank i s heightened by a k i n d of grim humor when he uses Mr. Nunnery's words and suddenly g i v e s comic r e l i e f from an e s s e n t i a l l y t r a g i c event, the untimely death of the only "good**, mature Snopes.  Thus, the p a i n and tragedy of the s i t u a t i o n i s  somewhat m i t i g a t e d :  42  ...she s a i d she was s t i l l running when the e x p l o s i o n (she s a i d she never heard i t , she never heard anything, or she would have stopped) knocked h e r down and the a i r a l l around h e r whizzing with p i e c e s of the tank l i k e a swarm of bumble bees. (T, 109) T h i s episode, which o c c u r r e d when Charles was f o u r so that he h i m s e l f (not C h a r l e s v i a Gowan) can t e l l  i t , i s told in  the past tense u n t i l C h a r l e s , as raconteur, chooses t o make the a c t i o n immediate and c l o s e .  By moving through  various  c h a r a c t e r s ' v e r s i o n s , Faulkner renders v a r i a t i o n s of perspect i v e and detachment and, hence, of i n c o n g r u i t y i n the e p i s o d e s . Indeed, the a c t i o n of The Town makes t h i s i n c o n g r u i t y e s p e c i a l l y important  i n that n o v e l .  For The Town l a c k s the  exuberance of language and numerous c o l o r f u l i n c i d e n t s of The Hamlet and the i n t e n s i t y of Mink's c h a r a c t e r i n The Mansion.  While The Town i s s u r e l y i n f e r i o r t o the other two  n o v e l s i n many r e s p e c t s , perhaps i t s l a c k of a c t i o n i s more t r u e t o the r e a l tone of l i f e  i n the South than the l i t e r a r y  r e a l i s m Faulkner achieves i n the r e s t of the t r i l o g y . it  i s i n t h i s novel t h a t Faulkner emphasizes i n c o n g r u i t y not  only between event and  And  and raconteur, but a l s o between r a c o n t e u r  raconteur. To a great extent, then, Faulkner emphasizes the t e l l i n g  of  the t a l e  and not the t a l e i t s e l f  i n The Town.  Charles M a l l i s o n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n of Gavin's  tendency  For i n s t a n c e , t o see  t h i n g s d i f f e r e n t l y than others would see them i s i n i t s e l f humorous and i s a key t o the bourgeois humor i n the n o v e l . Emphasizing  the importance  of n a r r a t o r t o event, C h a r l e s says:  43  . . . u n t i l now he sounded a good d e a l l i k e I sounded sometimes. But Gavin stood.•.[with] the eyes and the face that you never d i d q u i t e know what they were going to say next except that when you heard i t you r e a l i s e d i t was only a l i t t l e cranksided thatanobody e l s e would have s a i d i t q u i t e that way. (T 182) Thus, the i n c o n g r u i t y , more evident  i n the v a r i e d p o i n t s  view, d e r i v i n g more from p o i n t of view per language, and more u s e f u l i n detaching events of a small bourgeois town and on the r e l a t i o n of t e l l e r t o t a l e and particularly  of  se than from  the reader from  the  focusing his attention t e l l e r to t e l l e r ,  important f o r Faulkner's humor i n The  is  Town.  In  h i s emphasis on the t a l e - t e l l e r r e l a t i o n s h i p , Faulkner uses the same i n c o n g r u i t y provides But  of the framework n a r r a t i v e that merely  detachment from the event i n Southwestern humor.  F a u l k n e r a l s o uses t h i s i n c o n g r u i t y  detachment —  one  which allows him  aspects of h i s region  f o r another s o r t of  to t r e a t the more mundane  and more bourgeois J e f f e r s o n i a n s  r e a l i s t i c i f not u p r o a r i o u s l y  humorous way.  from H a r r i s ' s emphasis on the t a l e t o h i s own the t e l l e r - t a l e i n c o n g r u i t y ,  deviating  emphasis  as w e l l as through other  t i o n s from Southwestern humor, Faulkner gains expression  By  without s a c r i f i c i n g any  in a  on devia-  range of  of the n e c e s s i t i e s f o r the  more r i o t o u s f r o n t i e r humor. The  other two  i n c o n g r u i t i e s B l a i r f i n d s i n the  s t r u c t u r e are i n c o n g r u i t i e s of  box-like  language:  Incongruity between the grammatical, h i g h l y r h e t o r i c a l language of the framework on the  44  one hand and, on the other, the ungrammatical racy d i a l e c t of the n a r r a t o r . . . . I n c o n g r u i t y between r e a l i s m -- d i s c o v e r a b l e i n the framework wherein the scene and the n a r r a t o r are r e a l i s t i c a l l y p o r t r a y e d , and f a n t a s y , which enters i n t o the e n c l o s e d n a r r a t i v e because the n a r r a t o r s e l e c t s d e t a i l s and uses f i g u r e s of speech, e p i t h e t s , and verbs which g i v e grotesque c o l o r i n g . 15 Both H a r r i s and Faulkner make use of these language i n c o n g r u i t i e s in  t h e i r works. In  such  a n o v e l as The Hamlet, t h e i r language  are m a n i f e s t l y e v i d e n t . V. K. R a t l i f f ,  Faulkner's p r i n c i p l e  similarities  raconteur,  i s as w e l l acquainted with the technique of  f r o n t i e r language as Sut Lovingood.  And i n the reworked  v e r s i o n of *»Fool About a. Horse, * the story of Ab Snopes's 1  horse trade with Pat Stamper, R a t l i f f ' s knowledge of f r o n t i e r hyperbole  and f i g u r e p r e d i c a t e s much of the humor. F o r  i n s t a n c e h i s ungrammatical d i c t i o n and homely s i m i l e s in  h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of Ab and h i s f i r s t horse l e a v i n g  occur French-  man* s Bend. [The horse was].. .kind of h a l f walking and h a l f r i d i n g on the double t r e e and Ab*s face l o o k i n g w o r r i e d e r and w o r r i e d e r every time i t f a i l e d t o l i f t i t s f e e t high enough t o step, when a l l of a sudden that horse popped i n t o a sweat. I t f l u n g i t s head up l i k e i t had been touched with a hot poker and stepped up i n t o the c o l l a r , t o u c h i n g the c o l l a r f o r the f i r s t time s i n c e the mule had taken the weight of i t when Ab shaken out the whip i n the l o t , and so we come down the h i l l . . . w i t h that h o r s e [ * s ] . . . e y e s r o l l i n g white as d a r n i n g eggs and i t s mane and t a i l s w i r l i n g l i k e a grass f i r e . (H 34) A f t e r he trades Pat Stamper f o r the two mules and proceeds to  J e f f e r s o n , Ab f i n d s h i s new team o u t s i d e Cain's hardware  45  store.  R a t l i f f s n a r r a t i o n o f f e r s a good example of the comic 1  hyperbole p o s s i b l e through the use of f r o n t i e r  figures:  "They [ t h e mules] were l a y i n g down*..with t h e i r heads  snubbed  up t o g e t h e r and p o i n t i n g s t r a i g h t up and t h e i r tongues hanging out and t h e i r eyes popping and t h e i r necks s t r e t c h e d about f o u r foot and t h e i r legs doubled back under them l i k e shot (H 40)  rabbits.**  Thus, R a t l i f f proves to be as capable of  d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n as Sut Lovingood; and they have a common i n t e r e s t i n the i n c o n g r u i t y between s u b j e c t and image.  In  f a c t , Sut uses very n e a r l y the same image when he brags about h i s new horse t o the men  i n f r o n t of Pat Hash's g r o c e r y .  "You never seed a r e a l hoss t i l l  I r i d up.  You'se p'raps  s t o l e or owned shod r a b b i t s , or sheep with borrowed saddles (SL 4)  on...."  Ratliff  o f t e n achieves a comic e f f e c t by  d e s c r i b i n g one k i n d of f r o n t i e r animal by comparing i t t o another.  Perhaps even more humorous than the mules t h a t  looked l i k e "shot r a b b i t s " i s Ab's new horse which Ratliff  says, "...hog  l i k e a hog: a drum."  fat,....not  was,  l i k e a horse i s f a t but  f a t r i g h t up t o i t s ears and l o o k i n g t i g h t  as  (H 41)  Sut and R a t l i f f  a l s o use f r o n t i e r f i g u r e s t o d e s c r i b e  people and t h e i r p e r s o n a l i t i e s .  Sut s a y s :  "Bake Boyd...  were nigh onto as c l e v e r a f e l l o w as ever were borned. There were durn l i t t l e w e a v i l i n h i s wheat, mighty chance of water i n h i s whiskey...  (SL 2 7 )  Ab's  small predicament,  that of h a v i n g f i e l d s t o plow and no team to do i t w i t h .  46  would only be s o l v e d , R a t l i f f t e l l s b i s l i s t e n e r s , i f Ab "walked up t o O l d Man Anse's and borrowed a span of mules which would be j u s t  l i k e going up t o a r a t t l e s n a k e and  borrowing a r a t t l e . " (H 45)  Sut and R a t l i f f  can g i v e  own o r other c h a r a c t e r s * moods through a well-chosen figure.  Sut»s exaggerated p r a i s e f o r S i c i l y  the exuberance of h i s puppy love f o r h e r .  their frontier  Burns r e f l e c t s  When George men-  t i o n s t h a t she i s a handsome g i r l , Sut explodes: 'Handsome!* That-there word don*t cover the case. I t sounds s o r t a l i k e c a l l i n good whiskey 'strong water* when you are ten mile from a s t i l l - h o u s e , i t * s a - r a i n i n , and your f l a s k only h a l f - f u l l . She shows among women l i k e a sunflower among dog f e n n e l , or a h o l l y h o c k i n a patch of smart-weed. (SL 35) Ratliff*s  and Ab*s d e j e c t i o n a f t e r the horse trade i s expressed  i n R a t l i f f * s d e s c r i p t i o n of Ab's empty l o t .  " I t had never  been a b i g l o t and i t would look k i n d of crowded even with j u s t one horse i n i t . But now i t looked (H 47)  l i k e a l l Texas."  But while Sut r a r e l y changes moods —  exuberant —  Ratliff  he i s always  i n c r e a s e s the f e e l i n g of d e j e c t i o n he  and Ab share when Mrs. Snopes trades the cow f o r the s e p a r a t o r . Accordingly,  Ratliff  says, " I t [ t h e l o t ] looked  l i k e i t would  have h e l d a l l Texas and Kansas t o o . " (H 48) In another major episode Ratliff  t o l d by, or r a t h e r thought by,  i n The Hamlet, he embellishes  the fantasy of the  backwoods poetry by c r e a t i n g a s e t t i n g of fantasy when he e n v i s i o n s Flem i n H e l l . sketch of the present  R a t l i f f * s Imagined b i o g r a p h i c a l  " P r i n c e " i n c l u d e s perhaps the best  47  f a n c i f u l d e t a i l s i n Faulkner's i n the genre.  Satliff,  f a m i l y and u p b r i n g i n g .  Southwestern humor, i f not  l i k e Faulkner,  t h i n k s i n terms of  Thus, the "Prince * has 1  one  of h i s  e a r l y t u t o r s , perhaps i n about the same c a p a c i t y as o l d f a m i l y servants The  i n other Faulkner  novels,  d e v i l and h i s a d v i s o r argue v i o l e n t l y  merits  as an  advisor.  about the  of the c u r r e n t "Prince** and h i s f a t h e r .  relative  Satliff  imagines the " P r i n c e ' s " momentary sentimentalism  then  thus:  But he [the P r i n c e ] remembered them o l d days when the o l d f e l l o w was s m i l i n g fond and proud on h i s crude y o u t h f u l i n v e n t i o n s with BB s i z e l a v a and brimstone and such, and bragging to the o l d P r i n c e at n i g h t about how the boy done t h a t day, about what he invented t o do.. .that even the grown f o l k s hadn*t thought of y e t . (H 152-153 In a d d i t i o n t o t h i s extremely f a n c i f u l v i s i o n , the  incongruity  of R a t l i f f ' s c o u n t r i f i e d n a r r a t i o n and the backwoods d i c t i o n of Flem, as w e l l as of the d e v i l i n H e l l , combine t o one  of the most r i s i b l e of episodes i n Faulkner's Faulkner's  use  About a Horse" and  canon.  of the framework n a r r a t i v e i n ".-"Fool a device very  c l o s e t o i t i n the  O e v i l passage i s s i m i l a r to H a r r i s ' s use  the same  t i o n of the p o s s i b l e i n c o n g r u i t i e s between r e a l i s m  Ratliff  Both raconteurs  a l s o p a r t i c i p a t e s i n the  Ratliff, men  do t e l l  appreciaand  s t o r i e s of f a n t a s y ,  but  a c t i o n of a complex n o v e l .  as a c h a r a c t e r , d i s c u s s e s  as Bookwright and W i l l Varner.  much f r o n t i e r humor, but  Flem-  of the s t r u c t u r e i n  that both authors have a p a r a l l e l , i f not  fantasy.  create  l o c a l events with  These chats  also  i t i s a humor akin to w i t .  such  provide Further,  48  almost a l l of the male c h a r a c t e r s at l e a s t can understand and many of them do speak i n t h i s language with v a r y i n g degrees of comic s u c c e s s .  The reason that R a t l i f f  seems to be respon-  s i b l e f o r t h i s language i s that he i s apparently the reader's source of i n f o r m a t i o n , f o r again and again i n The F a u l k n e r r e t u r n s t o R a t l i f f , who language.  Almost  speaks i n t h i s  Hamlet  countrified  a l l the events i n the n o v e l are e i t h e r p a r t  of R a t l i f f ' s e x p e r i e n c e , or other c h a r a c t e r s t e l l him  about  them, at which times he o f t e n analyzes the s i g n i f i c a n c e of these e v e n t s . The language techniques of f r o n t i e r humor are used, then, by Faulkner i n the speech of many c h a r a c t e r s .  While the  i n c o n g r u i t y of t h i s f i g u r a t i v e speech i s g e n e r a l l y humorous, the f r o n t i e r s m a n can be w i t t y .  Indeed, R a t l i f f ' s  purposefully  •ague and non-committal f i g u r a t i v e answer t o Jody Varner's q u e s t i o n about the Snopes's barn burning h a b i t s i s a s p l e n d i d example. **I dont know as I would go on r e c o r d as s a y i n g he set ere a one of them a f i r e . I would put i t that they both taken f i r e while he was more or l e s s a s s o c i a t e d with them. You might say that f i r e seems to f o l l o w him around, l i k e dogs f o l l o w some f o l k s . " (H 1 3 ) T h i s c o n t a i n s both the i n t e l l e c t u a l d i s t i n c t i o n s  (which  u s u a l l y c e n t e r on the p r e c i s e meanings of words) common t o wit and a superb example of f r o n t i e r understatement. examples  Other  of f r o n t i e r speech are even a t t r i b u t e d t o anonymous  characters.  One  Snopes-Stamper  such i s a l i s t e n e r t o R a t l i f f ' s t a l e of the  episode.  Before R a t l i f f has s t a r t e d  telling  49  the s t o r y , the [Ab]  l i s t e n e r asks i n c r e d u l o u s l y , **You mean he  locked horns with Pat Stamper and even had  l e f t to take home?" (H 3O) o s t e n s i b l y Faulkner's  the  bridle  T h i s p a r t i c u l a r comment i s  reason f o r g i v i n g a short sketch  t h i s horse t r a d e r and h i s Negro h o s t l e r - a r t i s t , who a legend w i t h i n t h e i r own  life-time.  in  anonymous f r o n t i e r s m e n  a comic d i s c u s s i o n two  The  a u c t i o n sums up Flem's s e c r e t i v e n a t u r e : even t e l l h i m s e l f with h i m s e l f (H 284)  what he  i s up t o .  Not  the  "Flam Snopes don't i f he was  laying in  i n an empty house i n the dark of the moon. * 1  In a d d i t i o n to anonymous comments, Bookwright's  or poor-white l i f e steak  **I won't. two  remark  have at  earthy p o i n t  view i s o f t e n e f f e c t i v e i n s e t t i n g the tone of the  for  became  culminating  s t e a d f a s t r e d u c t i o n of a l l t h i n g s to h i s own  orders  of  i n The  at R a t l i f f ' s  Hamlet.  frontier  For i n s t a n c e , when T u l l  r e s t a u r a n t , Bookwright orders  . . . I been watching the d r i p p i n g s t e r n s of  days now.** (H 69)  But  of  the use  thus:  steaks  of the f r o n t i e r  language  i s not  l i m i t e d t o humorous purposes i n The Hamlet, and Book-  wright  again p r o v i d e s  When R a t l i f f  a good example of a more s e r i o u s  is finally  use.  exasperated about the Snopes f a m i l y  and says that he w i l l do no more to h e l p the i n h a b i t a n t s of Frenchman's Bend or h i s l a r g e r cause -- r i g h t n e s s and — but  Bookwright answers him, a hill.**  (H  **Hook your drag up,  i t aint  freedom nothing  326)  These examples by no means exhaust the p r o f u s i o n f r o n t i e r f i g u r a t i v e language i n the speech of the  of  characters  50  (other than the raconteur,  R a t l i f f ) i n The Hamlet.  Rather,  these are merely r e p r e s e n t a t i v e i n s t a n c e s of c h a r a c t e r s r e l a t i n g t h e i r thoughts t o the l i f e  at hand.  T h i s phenomenon  of backwoods language pervades The Hamlet, i n which from the language) c h a r a c t e r s  c o n t i n u a l l y search  (to judge  f o r humorous  f i g u r e s of speech. The  c h a r a c t e r s , then, e i t h e r through the framework n a r r a -  t i v e or when merely speaking t o each other, o f f e r good examples of f r o n t i e r language. character,  Ratliff,  as both raconteur  seems t o be the source of much of t h i s  as indeed he i s .  But the c a s u a l reader  and u b i q u i t o u s language,  of The Hamlet  probably  would be amazed t o l e a r n t h a t the Snopes-Stamper episode and the Flem-Devil  passage are the only major episodes of The  Hamlet which are a c t u a l l y n a r r a t e d by R a t l i f f .  F o r we look  t o him f o r the r a t i o n a l man's o p i n i o n about the events of the novel  and connect most of the f r o n t i e r language with h i s  character.  But i n The Hamlet. Faulkner  often deviates  from  the s t r i c t b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e of the Southwestern humorists and uses an omniscient and  p o i n t of view, by which he gains  range of e x p r e s s i o n .  Ratliff  the primary p r o t a g o n i s t  limits Ratliff "Spotted  F u r t h e r , Faulkner's  d e s i r e t o make  against Flem Snopes  again  from a c t u a l l y t e l l i n g many of the t a l e s .  H o r s e s " passage i s a case i n p o i n t .  Ratliff  The  (Suratt)  does t e l l the e a r l i e r short s t o r y v e r s i o n but Faulkner's for  freedom  love  the i n c o n g r u i t i e s posed by the j u x t a p o s i t i o n of numerous  languages c o u l d not be yoked t o such a l i m i t e d point of view in The Hamlet  version.  51  The of  "Spotted H o r s e s " passage i s more than a good example  Faulkner's genius f o r f r o n t i e r humor f o r there i s an immense  range  of language  i n t h i s episode —  from Mrs. L i t t l e J o h n ' s  p r o f a n i t y to the h i g h l y romantic d e s c r i p t i o n of the pear  tree.  Malcolm Cowley s a y s : The v e r s i o n of "Spotted Horses" used i n The Hamlet . . . i s n e a r l y three times as long as the magazine v e r s i o n p r i n t e d ten years e a r l i e r i n S c r i b n e r * s. as w e l l as b e i n g n e a r l y t h r e e times as good. I don't t h i n k i t would be too much t o c a l l i t the f u n n i e s t American s t o r y s i n c e Mark Twain.16 Cowley's enthusiasm the language  i s entirely  j u s t i f i e d , both i n terms of  and the a c t i o n i n the episode.  The Hamlet i t s e l f has a wide and e f f e c t i v e range of language,  but i n the "Spotted H o r s e s " s e c t i o n , t h i s range i s  integrated b r i l l i a n t l y of  the v a r i o u s language  i n a short p i e c e ; and the i n c o n g r u i t i e s s t y l e s are an i n d i c a t i o n of Faulkner's  genius f o r the i n c o n g r u i t y of language.  We have seen  that  H a r r i s and h i s contemporaries  r e a c t e d with v a r y i n g success  against the L a t i n a t e language  of the e i g h t e e n t h century.  Fred  Lewis Pattee c h a r a c t e r i z e s the l a t e r , p o s t - b e l l u m s p i r i t of f r o n t i e r humor t h u s : Everywhere there was a swing toward the w i l d and u n c o n v e n t i o n a l , even toward the coarse and repulsive. The effeminacy of e a r l y Tennysonianism, the c l o y i n g sweetness of the m i d - c e n t u r a l annual, Keatsism, Hyperionism...had culminated i n r e a c tion. There was a c r a v i n g f o r the a c r i d tang of u n c u l t i v a t e d t h i n g s i n borderlands and f i e l d s unsown.17 One of Faulkner's major achievements is,  i n language  technique  I t h i n k , h i s s u c c e s s f u l i n t e g r a t i o n of the two f i g u r a t i v e  52  languages,  a f e a t that c o u l d not have been r e a l i z e d  the s t r i c t use of the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e .  Faulkner  through incor-  p o r a t e s both romantic d e s c r i p t i o n and r e a l i s m t o s u i t h i s purposes  and t o s a t i s f y h i s love of i n c o n g r u i t y per se i n  the f o l l o w i n g : The pear t r e e across the road o p p o s i t e was now i n f u l l and f r o s t y bloom, the twigs and branches s p r i n g i n g not outward from the limbs but s t a n d i n g m o t i o n l e s s and p e r p e n d i c u l a r above the h o r i z o n t a l broughs l i k e the separate and upstreaming h a i r of a drowned woman s l e e p i n g upon the uttermost f l o o r of the windless and t i d e l e s s sea.18 **Anse McCallum brought two of them horses back from Texas once,** one of the men&on the steps said. (H 281) T h i s and s i m i l a r n o n - r e a l i s t i c images g i v e the episode fantasy-like super-reality.  In r e l a t i o n to the humor of the  s t o r y , these passages have at l e a s t two purposes: and pace the motion and v i o l e n c e of the humorous and they present night  a  they  passages,  a f u r t h e r i n c o n g r u i t y , that of the  and the u t t e r c o n f u s i o n of the men V a r i o u s l y u s i n g the p o e t i c languages  still  chasing the h o r s e s . of romantic  and f r o n t i e r humorists, Faulkner h i m s e l f uses the language of the f r o n t i e r i n t h i s episode.  stop  poets  figurative  He d e s c r i b e s the  h o r s e s , momentarily m o t i o n l e s s , as being, . . . l a r g e r than r a b b i t s and gaudy as p a r r o t s . . . . C a l i c o - c o a t e d , small-bodied, with d e l i c a t e legs and pink f a c e s i n which t h e i r mismatched eyes r o l l e d w i l d and subdued, they huddled, gaudy m o t i o n l e s s and a l e r t , w i l d as deer, deadly as r a t t l e s n a k e s , q u i e t as doves. (H 275) The  c o n t r a s t of the image and the o b j e c t , the i n c o n g r u i t y of  the poetry and i t s s u b j e c t i s what p r o v i d e s humor. c o u n t e r p o i n t i n g of concepts  i s one of Faulkner's  Precise  favorite  53  devices f o r humorous as w e l l as s e r i o u s w r i t i n g .  Thus, the  horses* eyes are at once " w i l d and subdued." Another element of f r o n t i e r humor, p a r t i c u l a r l y appears i n Faulkner's "Spotted H o r s e s " s e c t i o n .  Harris's,  T h i s i s the  f u r i o u s c o n f u s i o n , motion, and v i o l e n c e which i s the s t a p l e of Sut Lovingood's humor, f o r Sut has a keen eye f o r d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n of breakage and damage.  By r a p i d l y  listing  those  t h i n g s which are broken i n the melees that are c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of what Sut f i n d s humorous, he g i v e s the reader some i n d i c a t i o n of f u r i o u s speed and c o n f u s i o n . Burns's b u l l ,  For i n s t a n c e , when the  "Old Sock," backs i n t o the house, he crashes  i n t o a cupboard i n one backward  lunge.  ' P i c k l e c r o c k s , preserve j a r s , v i n e g a r jugs, seed bags, herb bunches, p a r e g o r i c b o t t l e s , egg b a s k e t s , and d e l f ware — a l l mixed damn promiscuously and not worth the s o r t i n by a d o l l a r and a h a l f . ' (SL 51) And i n the next lunge he makes a holocaust of the wedding  feast.  ' T a t a r s , cabbage, meat, soup, beans, sop, dumplins and the truck you w a l l e r s 'em i n . . . m i l k , p l a t e s , p i e s , . . . a n d every durned f i x i n you c o u l d think of i n a week were t h e r e , mixed and mashed l i k e i t had been t h r u a threshin-machine.* (SL 52) Faulkner's d e s c r i p t i o n of the horses* escape i s as detailed  as Sut*s d e s c r i p t i o n of the damage "Old Sock" d i d at  the wedding. The h e r d [was] sweeping on across the l o t , to crash through the gate which the l a s t man through i t n e g l e c t e d to c l o s e . . . c a r r y i n g a l l of the gate save u p r i g h t to which the hinges were n a i l e d with them, and so among the teams and wagons which choked the lane, the teams  54  s p r i n g i n g and l u n g i n g t o o , snapping h i t c h r e i n s and tongues. Then the whole i n e x t r i c a b l e mass crashed among the wagons... (H 3 O 6 - 3 O 7 ) And Faulkner d e s c r i b e s Eck's " f r e e " horse c r a s h i n g i n t o T u l l ' s w wagon both i n d e t a i l and with the a i d of a f r o n t i e r s i m i l e . The horse n e i t h e r checked nor swerved. I t crashed once on the wooden bridge and rushed between the two mules which waked l u n g i n g i n o p p o s i t e d i r e c t i o n s i n the t r a c e s , the horse now apparently scrambling along the wagontongue i t s e l f l i k e a mad s q u i r r e l and s c r a b b l i n g at the end-gate of the wagon with i t s forefeet...  (H 3 0 8 - 3 0 9 )  Faulkner's omniscient n a r r a t i o n i n these passages of a c t i o n has obvious p a r a l l e l s t o Sut Lovingood*s. the d e t a i l s of f r o n t i e r animals  Both d e s c r i b e  and o b j e c t s i n c o n f u s i o n .  T h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n s are dominated by nouns and verbs t o r e p r e sent the motion, mess, and n o i s e of these comic events. T h e i r use of f i g u r a t i v e language of the f r o n t i e r  enables  both t o sum up and heighten the preceeding a c t i o n i n a s i n g l e v i v i d image. conducive  And both Faulkner and Sut f i n d n o i s e and damage  t o h i l a r i o u s humor.  Although  the "Spotted Horses" passage i s not pure f r o n t i e r  humor ( i t ranges  through  too many d i f f e r e n t  languages  to f i t  i n t o t h i s pigeon-hole) the episode i s perhaps Faulkner's most b r i l l i a n t l y k a l e i d o s c o p i c passage of f r o n t i e r humor i n The Hamlet. i f not i n h i s canon.  H i s achievement here i s the  r e s u l t of h i s s u c c e s s f u l j u x t a p o s i t i o n of m u l t i f a r i o u s i n c o n gruities. such  For i n s t a n c e , i n the language alone, he combines  a n t i t h e t i c a l elements as high poetry and low comedy  55  through h i s use of the omniscient n a r r a t i v e .  H i s own p o e t i c  d e s c r i p t i o n of the pear t r e e , E u l a , and the s w i r l i n g masses of h o r s e f l e s h i s c o n t r a s t e d with the earthy speech of the c h a r a c t e r s d u r i n g the c o n f u s i o n and t h e i r swapping of i n d i v i d u a l accounts of the event afterward on W i l l Varner's p o r c h . a d d i t i o n , there are somewhat l e s s r e a l i s t i c elements F a u l k n e r ' s own f r o n t i e r f i g u r a t i v e language  In  —  and the peasants'  semi-poetic s u p e r s t i t i o n s about the moon's e f f e c t on growing things.  Thus, r a p i d l y  changing the tone of the s t o r y by  j u x t a p o s i n g these v a r i o u s languages, Faulkner indeed heightens the atmosphere of s w i r l i n g per se. and t h i s , l i k e Sut Lovingood, with an e x t r a o r d i n a r y eye f o r d e t a i l and s e n s i t i v i t y comic e f f e c t s of f a s t  t o the  action.  In The Town and The Mansion t h e r e are, I t h i n k , three major episodes that  are c l e a r l y i n the t r a d i t i o n of f r o n t i e r  humor, and, l i k e Sut Lovingood's of a c t i o n .  These are "Centaur i n B r a s s , " "Mule i n the Y a r d , "  and "By the P e o p l e . " all  s t o r i e s , a l l c o n t a i n passages  A l l were o r i g i n a l l y  are t o l d by more than one p e r s o n .  short s t o r i e s and  In these l a t e r novels  Faulkner f i n d s t h a t t e l l i n g a s t o r y through more than one person's eyes i n c r e a s e s the range of f i g u r a t i v e can use i n any one s i t u a t i o n . are as important as R a t l i f f , example, seem t o e x i s t  language he  None of these minor n a r r a t o r s and some of them, o l d Het f o r  s o l e l y f o r the comments they make.  As raconteurs or p a r t i a l raconteurs they might be c o n s i d e r e d as extensions of R a t l i f f ' s s e n s i b i l i t i e s  as they can enhance.  56  or d e t r a c t from R a t l i f f ' s i n s t i n c t i v e l y e x c e l l e n t telling  story-  skill.  "Centaur revision.  i n B r a s s " and "Mule i n the Y a r d " b e n e f i t  from  In the former s t o r y the anonymous n a r r a t o r , as  w e l l as Faulkner, R a t l i f f ,  and Chick i n other n o v e l s , d e s c r i b e s 19  Flam's eyes as the c o l o r of stagnant water, Harker, thus:  a man  but i n The Town.  w e l l acquainted with machinery, d e s c r i b e s Flem  "him  s t a n d i n g there chewing, with h i s eyes l o o k i n g 20 l i k e two gobs of cup grease on raw dough...P (T 22) In the o r i g i n a l , the chase i s d e s c r i b e d t h u s : ...the two of them a strange and f u r i o u s beast with two heads and a s i n g l e p a i r of legs l i k e an i n v e r t e d centaur speeding phantomlike j u s t ahead of the b o a r d - l i k e streaming of Tom-Tom's s h i r t - t a i l and j u s t beneath the s i l v e r g l i n t , of the l i f t e d k n i f e } . . . ( C o l l e c t e d S t o r i e s . I64) and by Harker i n The Town: " J e s t e x a c t l y as on time as two engines s w i t c h i n g f r e i g h t c a r s . Tom Tom must a made h i s jump j e s t e x a c t l y when T u r l w h i r l e d to run, T u r l jumping out of the house i n t o the moonlight with Tom Tom and the butcher k n i f e r i d i n g on h i s back so that they looked j e s t l i k e — what do you c a l l them d o u b l e - j o i n t e d h a l f - h o r s e f e l l e r s i n the o l d p i c t u r e books?" "Centaur," Gowan s a i d , " - l o o k i n g j e s t l i k e a centawyer running on i t s h i n d l e g s and t r y i n g to ketch up with i t s e l f with a butcher k n i f e about a y a r d long i n one of i t s e x t r y f r o n t h o o f s . . . " (T 26) F a u l k n e r ' s a d d i t i o n of Harker's d e s c r i p t i o n i s not only  con-  s i s t e n t with Harker's  c h a r a c t e r ; i t has converted t h i s passage  i n t o r e g i o n a l humor.  The  centaur image, presented i n Harker's  u n c e r t a i n manner, i s f a r more b e l i e v a b l e and f o r that matter, v i v i d than i n the p r e v i o u s passage.  And Faulkner has i n c r e a s e d  57  the humor of t h i s image by means of the framework n a r r a t i v e and the language technique event t o a c h a r a c t e r ' s  Faulkner  achieves  a range of tone  i n using t h i s device.  i n t r o d u c e s the "Mule i n the Y a r d " passage: fiatliff (T 231)  r e l a t i n g the  experience.  In another episode through h i s technique  of f r o n t i e r humor —  Charles M a l l i s o n " T h i s i s what  s a i d happened up t o where Uncle Gavin c o u l d see i t . " As he t e l l s  the H a i t f a m i l y h i s t o r y and the s t o r y  of the mules g e t t i n g i n t o Mrs. H a i r ' s yard, R a t l i f f ' s t i v e ends with the h y p o t h e t i c a l s i m i l e : probably  e a r s . " (T 237)  the h a l t e r - r o p e whipping about i t s  A mule which looks l i k e a g i r a f f e i s i n c o n -  gruous enough, but Faulkner  Her  " i t [ t h e mule]  looked t a l l e r than a g i r a f f e rushing down at Mrs.  H a i t and o l d Het with  Ratliff  narra-  now has o l d Het n a r r a t e  and C h a r l e s ) i n terms f a r more humous than  s u p e r s t i t i o n s make f o r the best  (through Ratliff's.  image i n the passage:  Old Het s a i d i t looked j u s t l i k e something out of the B i b l e , or maybe out of some k i n d of hoodoo witches' B i b l e : the mule that came out of the f o g t o begin with l i k e a hant or g o b l i n , now k i n d of s o a r i n g back i n t o the fog again borne on a c l o u d of l i t t l e winged ones;... (T 238) And  a new, although  however, Faulkner  minor raconteur  i s born.  In t h i s passage,  a l s o e x h i b i t s a c a r e l e s s n e s s about the c o r -  respondence of imagery t o the n a r r a t o r ' s probable  experience  when o l d Het d e s c r i b e s Mrs. H a l t ' s plunge i n t o the drove of mules:  58  [Mrs. H a i t ] rush[ed] r i g h t i n t o the middle of the drove, a f t e r the one with the f l y i n g h a l t e r - r e i n t h a t was s t i l l v a n i s h i n g i n t o the fog s t i l l i n that c l o u d of w h i r l i n g loose f e a t h e r s l i k e c o n f e t t i or the wake behind a speed boat. (T 239) T h i s p a r t i c u l a r i n c o n s i s t e n c y might r e s u l t from a h u r r i e d r e v i s i o n of the short s t o r y , where the only r e f e r e n c e boat i s t h a t of "the slightly 256)  cow...with her t a i l  rigid  l i k e the s t e r n s t a f f of a b o a t . "  and  to a  raked  (Collected Stories  G e n e r a l l y , Het*s d e s c r i p t i o n s are more d e t a i l e d (at  l e a s t i n a b u c o l i c way) i n s t a n c e , when I. 0.  than those i n the short s t o r y .  falls,  For  the n a r r a t o r d e s c r i b e s him  thus:  He lay f l a t on h i s stomach, h i s head and shoulders upreared by h i s o u t s t r e t c h e d arms, h i s coat t a i l swept forward by i t s own a r r e s t e d momentum about h i s head so that from beneath i t h i s slack-jawed face mused i n w i l d repose l i k e that of a burlesqued nun. ( C o l l e c t e d S t o r i e s 256) Het's d e s c r i p t i o n i s : He was l y i n g f l a t on h i s f a c e , the t a i l of h i s coat f l u n g forward over h i s head by the impetus of h i s f a l l , and o l d Het swore there was the p r i n t of the cow's s p l i t f o o t and the mule's hoof too i n the middle of h i s white s h i r t . (T 240) Both are humorous passages. t r a d i t i o n and, I.  0.  Old Het's i s i n the  I t h i n k , more humorous.  Her  d e s c r i p t i o n of  i s f a r l e s s incongruous to the tone of the In The  Mansion, the best  Charles  was  home again  story.  example of f r o n t i e r humor i s  R a t l i f f ' s o u t w i t t i n g Senator Clarence passage i s i n t r o d u c e d  regional  by F a u l k n e r :  Egglestone Snopes.  "Then i t was  and the next day h i s uncle  The  September, ran  Ratliff  59  to e a r t h on the Square (M 315)  and brought him up t o the o f f i c e . . . "  And R a t l i f f t e l l s of a v i c t o r y as d e c i s i v e as Sut  Lovingood's v i c t o r y over Parson John B u l l e n .  The humor of  Snopes's e l i m i n a t i o n from the s e n a t o r i a l race i s d e r i v e d more from the s t o r y i t s e l f , than from the language. f a r more sober c h a r a c t e r i n The Mansion n o v e l s ; and indeed The Mansion  Ratliff i s a  than i n the e a r l i e r  i s a more sober n o v e l .  Certain  elements of f r o n t i e r humor are there i n the embittered but b l u n t up-country  language of Mink, i n the i n c o n g r u i t y of  Goodyhay and h i s church, and i n Meadowfill's cantankerous f u r y ; but these elements e x i s t  alone and the e f f e c t s are f a r  from h i l a r i o u s .  R a t l i f f ' s s t o r y i s a s t o r y of f r o n t i e r humor;  but h i s language  i s that of f r o n t i e r humor only i n a few p l a c e s .  R a t l i f f , h a v i n g been t o New York, e x p l a i n s the l o c a t i o n of the "dog t h i c k e t " as b e i n g " j e s t it  above Varner's m i l l p o n d where  w i l l be convenient f o r customers  l i k e them c i t y  hotels  that keeps a reservoy of fountainpen ink open t o anybody that needs i t r i g h t next t o the w r i t i n g room." (M 316) not the R a t l i f f  of The Hamlet or The Town.  This i s  While he r e t a i n s  h i s r e g i o n a l grammar and p r o n u n c i a t i o n through h i s d e s c r i p t i o n of the t h i c k e t , he s e l e c t s f a r more s o p h i s t i c a t e d and euphemist i c images than he would have i n e a r l i e r y e a r s : s t a t i o n , a k i n d of dog post o f f i c e . . • •  "a dog way-  Every dog i n the  c o n g r e s s i o n a l d i s t r i c t . . . h a s l i f t e d h i s l e g there...and l e f t h i s v i s i t i n g c a r d . " (M 3I6) tells  But as the s t o r y u n f o l d s R a t l i f f  i t in increasingly colorful  terms:  60  Clarence f e l t h i s b r i t c h e s l e g s g e t t i n g damp or maybe j e s t c o o l , and looked over h i s s h o u l der to see the w a i t i n g line-up...them augmenting standing-room-only customers s t r u n g out behind him l i k e the knots i n a k i t e s t a i l . . . t h e n f r u s t r a t e d dogs c i r c l i n g round and r o u n d . . . l i k e the s p o t t e d horses and swan boats on a f l y i n g jenny, except the dogs was t r a v e l l i n g on three l e g s , b e i n g already loaded and cocked and aimed. (H 317) F a u l k e r , i n passages of a c t i o n i n the f r o n t i e r humor t r a d i t i o n , f o l l o w s H a r r i s ' s method. careful  (and t h i s with  But Faulkner  i s usually  a l a r g e number of c h a r a c t e r s ) to keep  the image c o n s i s t e n t to the c h a r a c t e r ,  and has  found by  u s i n g a comment-within-a-story-within-a-story he can  achieve  a wide range of f i g u r a t i v e speech, and Het's "hoodoo witches' B i b l e " i s a superb example of t h i s technique.  Harris often  uses a p r o f u s i o n of f i g u r e s l e a d i n g towards the most emphatic one.  For i n s t a n c e , i n one  paragraph John B u l l e n  stops  preaching: . . . a - l i s t e n i n . . . s o r t a l i k e a o l e sow does when she hears you a - w h i s t l i n f o r the dogs . . . ( s l a p s h i m s e l f ) about the p l a c e where you cut the best steak outen a beef...(rubs h i m s e l f ) where a hoss t a i l s p r o u t s . . . . Then he spread h i s b i g legs and g i v e h i s back a good, r a t t l i n rub agin the p u l p i t , l i k e a hog s c r a t c h e s h i a s e l f agin a stump, l e a n i n to i t pow'ful, and t w i t c h i n and squirmin a l l over as i f he'd s l e p t i n a dog bed, or onto a p i s s a n t h i l l . (SL 85) Thus, the way no  stories i s  small part of e n t i c i n g the reader to l i s t e n t o a mountain  hill-billy man.  i n which the c h a r a c t e r s t e l l these  Sut  or an i t i n e r a n t M i s s i s s i p p i sewing machine s a l e s i s a man  R a t l i f f has  who  has  seen a l l the f r o n t i e r has  seen most of i t , but knows with  unerring  to show;  61  c o n s i s t e n c y when t o l e t a poor-house Negro speak f o r him. Het, more than l i k e l y  illiterate,  and Sut, admittedly so,  r e l a t e the t h i n g s of the f r o n t i e r to the events they d e s c r i b e . As an examination of these passages  of a c t i o n would i n d i c a t e ,  Faulkner and H a r r i s u s u a l l y d i f f e r i n the number of f r o n t i e r images they use —  not i n the technique or s p i r i t  of that  use. A f u r t h e r s i m i l a r i t y i s t h e i r r e p r e s e n t a t i o n of the r e a l language  of the f r o n t i e r ,  a language  common t o sharecroppers  21 and p l a n t e r s a l i k e .  Speaking of t h i s o r a l f r o n t i e r humor,  OeVoto s a y s : It i s the f r o n t i e r examining i t s e l f , r e c o r d i n g i t s e l f , and e n t e r t a i n i n g i t s e l f . . . . I t was enormously male -- emphatic, coarse, v i v i d , violent...22 The f o l k everywhere are bawdy and obscene. The v e r b a l humor of c o p u l a t i o n and other p h y s i o l o g i c a l f u n c t i o n s i s e t e r n a l and i t i s the l e a s t d i l u t e d form of f o l k art.23 And what got i n t o p r i n t  almost c e r t a i n l y does not i n d i c a t e  the extent t o which these c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s apply t o the o r a l t r a d i t i o n which both-Faulkner and H a r r i s knew. reminds  us that only "the most s a n i t a r y [ s t o r i e s J . . . n o w and  then appeared Times."  Mcllwaine  i n the l o c a l newspapers or the S p i r i t of the  Indeed,  Brom Weber, the e d i t o r of Sut Lovingood.  notes i n h i s "Introduction** that he was f o r c e d by p r o p r i e t y to  d e l e t e " t h r e e l i n e s of an extremely o f f e n s i v e n a t u r e , "  (SL x x v i i i ) and i n some u n c o l l e c t e d Sut s t o r i e s , Sut i n d i c a t e s a r e a l love f o r the instance' of p r o f a n i t y per s e . w a i t i n g f o r d i n n e r under extremely  While  adverse circumstances.  62  (the road-house was f l o o d e d  and the passengers were  standing  i n the mire around an i n e f f e c t u a l s t o v e ) , Sut t e l l s about but does not r e c o r d t h i s r e a l language of the f r o n t i e r . "••.sum[were] a c u s s i n wun another, sum a c u s s i n t h e r s e f s , sum a c u s s i n B u l l ' s Gap, sum a c u s s i n wun t a v r i n , sum a c u s s i n f u r supper, sum a c u s s i n the s t r i k e nine snake Whisky, an a l l a c u s s i n t h a r l e v i l b e s t . " 2 5 While Faulkner does not w r i t e  s l a p s t i c k of t h i s v a r i e t y , the  s p e c i f i c circumstance of women c u r s i n g i s r e a l and humorous to both H a r r i s  and F a u l k n e r .  s u i t a b l e provocation through h e r yard,  They never f a i l  t o provide  f o r i t . As a f r i g h t e n e d mule runs  Mrs.  Hait  answers the a v a r i c i o u s  Snopes who wants h i s h a l f of Mr. H a l t ' s  I. 0 .  and the mules' com-  b i n e d , assessed value with "Catch that b i g son of a b i t c h with the h a l t e r . " (T 239) retribution.  Finally,  Sicily  Burns i s provoked by Sut's  angered by Sut's suggestion that she  c o o l o f f the rampaging bees with "a mess of SODA,...she l i f t e d the crock so she c o u l d f l a s h h e r eyes at me [ S u t ] , and s a i d , 'You  go t o h e l l ! '  l i m i t s the earthy And  j u s t as p l a i n . " (SL 5 5 )  Burns would be as much of a goddess  as E u l a , had Sut been l i t e r a t e , who speaks i n f r o n t i e r language. n o t i c e r of l i t t l e  seed.  She'd say,  talk:  'Law sakes!  Faulkner  speech of the f r o n t i e r t o o l d women and men.  H a r r i s , whose S i c i l y  as "a great  In g e n e r a l ,  also invents  a tough o l d  Sut d e s c r i b e s  things  Mrs.  lady  Yardley  that nobody e l s e ever  r i g h t i n t h e middle of somebody's  serious  Thar goes t h a t y a l l e r s l u t of a hen,  a - f l i n g i n straws over h e r s h o u l d e r . ' " (SL 172)  However,  63  F a u l k n e r does not l i m i t h i s use of t h i s language t o humorous effects,  as the "Mink** s e c t i o n of The Mansion,  other examples  among many  i n the t r i l o g y , would i n d i c a t e ; but, l i k e  H a r r i s , he o f t e n employs  this  t o represent the r e a l i t y  of an earthy  There can be l i t t l e  language f o r humorous ends and  doubt  frontier.  about the h i s t o r i c a l accuracy  of H a r r i s and F a u l k n e r ' s treatment of the f o l k - s p e e c h . Mcllwaine f i n d s both Tennessee  and northern M i s s i s s i p p i t o  be one of the "haunts o f p p l a i n p e o p l e .  There the s q u i r e s  very l i k e l y p o s s e s s e d the rough f o r t h r i g h t n e s s of a c e r t a i n m y t h i c a l Senator Jones of Arkansas who, i n b e g i n n i n g h i s harangue  about changing the name of h i s s t a t e stormed at the  presiding o f f i c e r :  'Mr. Speakeh,  God damn you, Sah, I been 26  tryin' for half  an hour to get y o ' eye...*"  Both H a r r i s  and F a u l k n e r f i n d such language i n h i g h p l a c e s humorous. C e r t a i n l y , when Wirt S t a p l e s throws  a l e g of venison at a  judge i n a courtroom, Wirt's c u r s i n g him adds t o an already h i l a r i o u s event.  "Thar's a d r i e d subpoena f o r you, you damn  o l e cow's paunch." Henry  (SL 147)  And when F a u l k n e r ' s c h a r a c t e r ,  Best, y e l l s , " ' W a i t , god damn i t , '  hush..."  so loud that they d i d  (T 8 6 ) , the c o n f u s i o n of the Alderman's  board meeting  momentarily ceased. A l e s s o r a l and perhaps l e s s humorous language technique t h a t F a u l k n e r and the Southwestern humorists share i s that of g i v i n g t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s p e c u l i a r names. are s u g g e s t i v e of dominant  Typically,  such names  q u a l i t i e s w i t h i n the c h a r a c t e r .  64  "Sut Lovingood," then, would perhaps s e x u a l prowess — well-developed. is  remarkably  suggest "smut" and  a phase of h i s c h a r a c t e r not "Suggs" perhaps  remarkably  i s a b e t t e r example.  This  s i m i l a r to the word " s l u g , " i n Simon's case,  i n d i c a t i v e of the s l i m y , s k u l k i n g s n a i l r a t h e r than the hard punch or b u l l e t that the word a l s o means. character-naming, F o s t e r and Campbell  Of F a u l k n e r ' s  say:  C a r i c a t u r e , a s a l i e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of f r o n t i e r humor, [ i s ] . . . apparent i n what might be c a l l e d Faulkner's name humor. ...'Snopes,* then, i s a c a r i c a t u r e of a l l " S n - i s h n e s s " i n human n a t u r e . ...Most important of a l l i s Flem Snopes — the b e l l w e t h e r of the c l a n . The name suggests two t h i n g s to us. In the terminology of I. A. Richards, Flem as a " s e n s e " metaphor, suggests " p h l e g m a t i c ; " as an emotive metaphor, i t suggests phlegm ( p h o n e t i c a l l y s p e l l e d " f l e m " i n the d i c t i o n ary). Both f i t Flem's c h a r a c t e r . The medieval humor, phlegm, when predominant, made a person c o l d , a p a t h e t i c , unemotional — so Flem — p h l e g m a t i c . As a mucous d i s charge from the mouth, i t bears f u r t h e r r e v o l t i n g connotations. The name-humor i s f u r t h e r complicated by the i n t r o d u c t i o n of animal nicknames, sugg e s t i n g Aesopian animal c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , and g r a n d i o s e C h r i s t i a n names negated by the incongruous nicknames.27 Indeed, F a u l k n e r ' s c l a n have more humorous names than any of those i n the w r i t i n g s of the e a r l y Southwestern perhaps p a r t l y because s o r t of d e t a i l Midwestern  humorists,  Faulkner p a i d more a t t e n t i o n t o t h i s  and perhaps p a r t l y because  phenomena of odd names was  the Southern  not very w e l l  developed  i n the ante-bellum e r a i n which these humorists wrote. H. L. Mencken s a y s :  and  For  65  E x c e s s i v e i n b r e e d i n g among the mountain people may be r e s p o n s i b l e i n part f o r t h i s vogue f o r strange given names "when f o r t y - s e v e n persons i n one hollow...possess i d e n t i c a l surnames, the given name becomes the common d i s t i n g u i s h i n g f a c t o r . . ."28 And t h i s i n b r e e d i n g more than l i k e l y was a post-war phenomenon. Thus, i n both s t r u c t u r e and language Faulkner p a r a l l e l s the  Southwestern humorists i n g e n e r a l and H a r r i s i n p a r t i c u l a r .  Obviously, F a u l k n e r ' s use of t h e i r s t r u c t u r e s and techniques i s more a r t i s t i c ration  and more complex than H a r r i s ' s .  As h i s nar-  of the " S p o t t e d H o r s e s " s e c t i o n i n The Hamlet  indicate,  he o f t e n achieves a d i f f e r e n t  would  ( i n that case,  heightened, s u p e r - r e a l ) comic e f f e c t by d e v i a t i n g from the formulated p r a c t i c e s of the best and purest f r o n t i e r humor that of George Washington  Harris.  —  These d e v i a t i o n s are  conducive t o F a u l k n e r ' s range of tone i n the t r i l o g y .  Often  the  humor i s heightened by h i s changes, but i n other passages  the  results  are f a r from humorous.  Two examples  of h i s d e v i a -  t i o n from t r a d i t i o n a l Southwestern humor may serve t o i n d i c a t e some of the ways i n which F a u l k n e r ' s d e v i a t i o n s i n c r e a s e h i s range of tone.  Both d e v i a t i o n s are changes  The p r e v a i l i n g  i n language.  language i n the best Southwestern humor  i s o r a l and f i g u r a t i v e .  T h i s i s g e n e r a l l y t r u e of Faulkner's  most humorous passages.  But i n humor d e r i v e d from language  Faulkner does not r e s t r i c t h i m s e l f t o the f r o n t i e r and r e g i o n a l d i a l e c t .  tradition  In f a c t , when Jody takes E u l a t o  s c h o o l , h i s " v i s i o n of h i m s e l f t r a n s p o r t i n g not only the  across  v i l l a g e ' s h o r i z o n but across the embracing proscenium of  66  the e n t i r e i n h a b i t e d world l i k e  the sun i t s e l f ,  a kaleidoscopic  c o n v o l u t i o n of mammalian e l l i p s e s " (H 1 0 0 ) i s humorous because of the p o e t i c language  i n c o n t r a s t t o what we expect  from  Frenchman's Bend i n g e n e r a l and Jody Varner i n p a r t i c u l a r . Traditionally,  the humor of the f r o n t i e r  g r u i t y of the h i c k ' s language plain  prose.  emphasizes the i n c o n -  i n juxtaposition to r e l a t i v e l y  F a u l k n e r has r e v e r s e d the emphasis of t h i s  s t r u c t u r e by c o n t r a s t i n g t h i s exaggerated p o e t i c prose t o the 29 facts  of the h i c k ' s world.  T h i s same p a t t e r n , as we have seen,  i s sometimes humorous i n L o n g s t r e e t ' s works, but while we may q u e s t i o n the e a r l i e r regionalist»s conscious i n t e n t ,  Faulkner  o b v i o u s l y i n t e n d s humor i n h i s passage. Indeed, language is  F a u l k n e r has a p a s s i o n f o r the i n c o n g r u i t i e s of  in relation  t o the event.  And although  incongruity  at the h e a r t of comedy, i n c o n g r u i t y per se does not i n s u r e  a humorous e f f e c t .  Nowhere i n h i s canon i s t h i s b e t t e r shown  than i n F a u l k n e r ' s Ike-cow passage i n The Hamlet.  Incongruously  enough, F a u l k n e r took t h i s passage from the v a l i d but u n p r i n t a b l e s t r a i n t h a t Southwestern friend,  o r a l humor o f t e n was.  Faulkner's  P h i l Stone, r e p o r t e d l y c l a i m e d : The s t o r y came t o Faulkner as a v u l g a r anecdote of r u r a l sodomy t o l d by a p r o f e s s i o n a l p o l i t i c i a n campaigning through Oxford. As the p o l i t i c i a n t o l d i t t o a few male hangers-on, i t was simply a b r i e f , b r u t a l l y pornographic joke.30  But through F a u l k n e r ' s treatment, t h i s " j o k e " becomes a s t o r y of  love, perhaps  the f i n e s t  pointing incongruities.  example of F a u l k n e r ' s counter-  Of the many superb  scenes of Ike,and  67  the cow, who,  the one most p r o m i s i n g of humor i s that of Ike,  (having rescued her from a f i r e  r a v i n e ) , " l y i n g beneath r e c e i v e d the v i o l e n t (H 176)  and tumbled  the s t r u g g l i n g and b e l l o w i n g  humor, and i t i s i n s t a n t a n e o u s l y humorous and  of bawdy  pathetic.  to console her f o r " t h i s v i o l e n t  of her maiden's d e l i c a c y , " (H 176) t a n t , shame f r e e . " (H 177) language  cow,  r e l a x i n g of her f e a r c o n s t r i c t e d bowels."  T h i s s c a t o l o g y o f f e r s every p o s s i b i l i t y  A f t e r he attempts  down a  And  violation  she becomes "maiden medi-  i n thus d e v i a t i n g from the  of the f r o n t i e r , F a u l k n e r renders t h i s t a l e of  " s t o c k - d i d d l i n g " a story of love which i s more i n the realm of the grotesque humor.  and extravagant than i n that of earthy, o r a l  The d i f f e r e n c e between t h i s episode and other episodes  i n the f r o n t i e r t r a d i t i o n i s the absolute i n c o n g r u i t y of the language  i n r e l a t i o n to the event, and the p e r f e c t  of the methods of f r o n t i e r humor.  reversal  Faulkner's poetry here  renders the reader's detachment an i m p o s s i b i l i t y , whereas the f r o n t i e r h u m o r i s t s ' emphasis on backwoods language guarantees  t h i s detachment.  While  almost  to some extent the p o e t i c  language  i n "Spotted Horses" i n c r e a s e s the humor of that  passage,  here a s i m i l a r , i f more prolonged use of that  language  renders t h i s episode e q u i d i s t a n t between the u p r o a r i o u s l y funny is  and the a b s o l u t e l y p a t h e t i c .  The f a c t s remain that i t  a d e v i a t i o n , a change i n emphasis on what was  originally  the s t u f f of o r a l f r o n t i e r humor t o which both H a r r i s Faulkner are m a n i f e s t l y i n d e b t e d .  and  68  Both authors are geniuses i n the f r o n t i e r humor genre. H a r r i s was the best of the e a r l y f r o n t i e r humorists of h i s a r t i s t i c use of the best device f o r t e l l i n g  because a tale  and f o r h i s superb sense of the i n c o n g r u i t i e s of f r o n t i e r speech.  But F a u l k n e r , i f f o r merely h i s a r t i s t i c i n n o v a t i o n s  on the s t r u c t u r e s and techniques of H a r r i s , i s an even g r e a t e r genius.  H i s s u c c e s s f u l i n t e g r a t i o n of the f a r c i c a l episodes  i n the complex t r i l o g y  a t t e s t s t o a p a r t of t h i s genius.  Another aspect of i t i s e v i d e n t w i t h i n the episodes where h i s close p a r a l l e l s  and r e v e r s a l s of the t r a d i t i o n a l techniques  of f r o n t i e r humor g i v e ample evidence f o r h i s k i n s h i p with Sut's i n v e n t o r and a s e n s i b i l i t y d i s t i n c t  from and g r e a t e r  than George Washington H a r r i s ' s . Faulkner as a f r o n t i e r humorist  surpasses H a r r i s i n the  same way H a r r i s surpassed h i s contemporaries.  As B l a i r  finds  H a r r i s b e t t e r than they were, I f i n d Faulkner b e t t e r than Harris:  Faulkner's f r o n t i e r humor i s b e t t e r because he has  "more sense of i n c o n g r u i t i e s , more exuberance, tion  more imagina-  and because he has g r e a t e r genius f o r t r a n s f e r r i n g the  31 unique  artistry  of the o r a l n a r r a t i v e to the p r i n t e d page."^  Thus, i n matters of s t r u c t u r e and technique i n the t r i l o g y , Faulkner i n c o r p o r a t e s H a r r i s ' s methods f o r a somewhat d e r i v a t i v e and y e t m a n i f e s t l y g r e a t e r a r t i s t i c  effect.  69  FOOTNOTES:  CHAPTER I I I  Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y : C l a s s Conferences at the U n i v e r s i t y of V i r g i n i a 1957-1958, eds. F r e d e r i c k L. Gwynn and Joseph L. B l o t n e r ( C h a r l o t t e s v i l l e , 1959), P. 90. 2  I b i d . , p. 193-  3  •'The Hamlet c o n t a i n s r e v i s e d v e r s i o n s of " F o o l About a Horse,* "The Hound," "Spotted Horses," " L i z a r d s i n Jamshyd's C o u r t y a r d , " "Barn B u r n i n g , " and "Afternoon of a Cow." The Town i n c l u d e s r e v i s i o n s of "Centaur i n B r a s s , " "Mule i n the Y a r d , " and "The W a i f s ; " and The Mansion i n c l u d e s "By the People." ^Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y , pp. 1 4 - 1 5 ^ W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r , The Mansion (New York, 1959). Herea f t e r c i t e d i n t h i s text as M with page r e f e r e n c e s i n parentheses • ^Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y , p. 17. 7 'Brooks, p. 175g Olga V i c k e r y , The Novels of W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : A C r i t i c a l I n t e r p r e t a t i o n (Baton Rouge. 1959). P. 167. O r i g i n a l l y i n r e f e r e n c e t o The Hamlet, t h i s passage a p p l i e s e q u a l l y t o the t r i l o g y as a whole. ^Margaret E d i t h G a l b r a i t h , Faulkner*s T r i l o g y : Technique as Approach t o Theme. U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Masters T h e s i s (Vancouver, 1962), pp. 56-57W i l l i a m Faulkner, The Hamlet (New York, Vintage E d i t i o n ) , H e r e a f t e r c i t e d i n t h i s t e x t as H with page r e f e r e n c e s i n parentheses• l 0  W l l l i a m Faulkner, The Town (New York, 1961). H e r e a f t e r c i t e d i n the t e x t as T with page r e f e r e n c e s i n parentheses. 1 1  12  B l a i r , Native American Humor, p. 92.  * The whole of The R e i v e r s i s t o l d some f i f t y years afterward but the use of t h i s device f o r detachment i s not so e f f e c t i v e because the f i r s t person n a r r a t i v e of Lucius P r i e s t dominates the book and the reader tends t o f o r g e t the opening sentence, "GRANDFATHER SAID:" ( W i l l i a m Faulkner, The R e i v e r s (New York, 1962), p. 3-) 3  70  ^The term bourgeois humor, as I use i t i n t h i s t h e s i s , i n d i c a t e s that humor which, i n c o n t r a s t to f r o n t i e r humor, tends to be more feminine than masculine, more l e a r n e d than b l u n t , and which focuses on s u b j e c t s that are more concerned with s o c i a l consciousness than with i n d i v i d u a l i s m . While f r o n t i e r humor i n v o l v e s h i g h l y f i g u r a t i v e language and o f t e n d e r i v e s from v i o l e n t a c t i o n , the language of bourgeois humor i s o f t e n p l a i n or euphemistic and i t s a c t i o n i s usually w i t h out v i o l e n c e . It i s tame and q u i x o t i c . Gavin Stevens and the M a l l i s o n s are o f t e n the c h a r a c t e r s of Faulkner's bourgeois humor and perhaps the most laughable example of i t i s "the Rouncewell P a n i c . " (T 7 0 - 7 2 ) 15  ' B l a i r , N a t i v e American Humor, p. 92. T h i s l a s t i n c o n g r u i t y (that between r e a l i s m and f a n t a s y ) because the " n a r r a t o r s e l e c t s d e t a i l s " [ i t a l i c s mine] i m p l i e s c h a r a c t e r r e v e l a t i o n — one s u b j e c t of Chapter V of t h i s t h e s i s . l 0  T h e P o r t a b l e F a u l k n e r , ed., Malcolm  1946),  p.  Cowley  (New  York,  366.  17  F r e d Lewis Pattee, A H i s t o r y of American s i n c e 1870 (New York, 1915), P. 83.  Literature  18  I n d u b i t a b l y romantic, t h i s image resembles one i n S h e l l e y ' s "Ode to the West Wind" which Faulkner might have known• ...there are spread On the blue s u r f a c e of t h i n e aery surge. L i k e the b r i g h t h a i r u p l i f t e d from the head Of some f i e r c e Maenad.... [ll-18-21] 19  ' W i l l i a m Faulkner, "Centaur i n B r a s s , " i n C o l l e c t e d S t o r i e s of W i l l i a m Faulkner (New York, 1950), p. 152. Herea f t e r c i t e d as C o l l e c t e d S t o r i e s with page r e f e r e n c e s i n parentheses. 20 * My w  italics.  21  Mcllwaine s a y s : " A l l but the most r e f i n e d p l a n t e r s had one l i t e r a r y standard f o r books read i n the f a m i l y c i r c l e and anecdotes r e l a t e d to guests on the veranda, another f o r the yarns swapped on the courthouse square, at the l i v e r y stable...." ( S h i e l d s Mcllwaine, The Southern Poor White ( U n i v e r s i t y of Oklahoma, 1939), p. 41-) B e r n a r d De Voto, Mark Twain's America (New York, 1933), P. 92. 2 2  23 I b i d . , p.  153-  71  24  Mcllwaine, p. 4 1 .  25 George Washington H a r r i s , "Sut Lovengood Gap," The Lovingood Papers ( 1 9 6 2 ) , p. 3 9 . 26  at B u l l ' s  M c I l w a i n e , p. 4 1 .  27 Harry Campbell and Ruel Poster, W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r ; A C r i t i c a l A p p r a i s a l (Oklahoma, 1 9 5 1 ) , PP. IO4-IO5. ~ 28 H. L. Mencken, The American Language (New York, 1 9 3 7 ) , p. 5 2 3 . (Mencken quotes Miriam M. S i z e r , " C h r i s t i a n Names i n the Blue Ridge of V i r g i n i a , " American Speech ( A p r i l , 1 9 3 3 ) . ) 29 See Chapter I I , page 15 of t h i s t h e s i s . 30 ^ P h i l Stone as guoted by Campbell and F o s t e r , p. 9 9 . 31 ^ B l a i r , N a t i v e American Humor, p. 101.  A-  72  IV.  M i l i e u and Theme  To a r r i v e at a balanced view of the South i s a task beset  at the outset with c o m p l i c a t i o n s .  W r i t i n g s about the  South are n o t o r i o u s f o r being more an i n d i c a t i o n of the w r i t e r s ' p r e j u d i c e s than t h e i r f a c t s because accounts than mere s t a t i s t i c s to  (and even those  attack from other vantage p o i n t s .  stems from attempts t o c l a r i f y  other  sometimes) are doomed Much of the c o n f u s i o n  the whole South and much  stems from too hasty g e n e r a l i z a t i o n s from too few p a r t i c u lars.  Further c o n f u s i o n a r i s e s from the South's  i n s u l a r i t y both b e f o r e and a f t e r the C i v i l War.  relative This  i n s u l a r i t y , besides g r e a t l y h i n d e r i n g the development of any universally  acceptable d e s c r i p t i o n of the South, gave sus-  tenance t o the South's r e g i o n a l consciousness, which was born  i n the f i r s t decades of the nineteenth century and  became e s p e c i a l l y The  acute i n the l a t t e r h a l f of that  r e s t of the country,  century.  as Howe says, "was becoming a s e l f -  conscious n a t i o n . . . [ w h i l e ] the South, because i t was a p a r i a h r e g i o n , . . . s t r u g g l e d d e s p e r a t e l y to keep i t s e l f Through an e x e r c i s e of the w i l l , memory be the main shaper  intact.  i t i n s i s t e d that the r e g i o n a l  of i t s l i f e . " ^ "  And the c u l t u r e d ,  o f t e n r o m a n t i c i z e d South i s a p a r t of t h i s memory.  As the  r e s t of the n a t i o n became i n c r e a s i n g l y u r b a n i z e d and industrialized,  t h i s r o m a n t i c i z e d South, as w e l l as the somewhat  l e s s romantic region."  backwoods areas, d i d i n f a c t become a " p a r i a h  73  As observers to  and h i s t o r i a n s from F r e d e r i c k Law  C. Vann Woodward have p o i n t e d out, the c l a s s i c a l  Olmsted and  cul-  t u r e d o l d South, while t o some extent a f a c t i n V i r g i n i a , i s largely  a myth i n r e l a t i o n to the f a c t s of almost  Southern  state.  W.  J . Cash f i n d s t h a t " i t was  b e f o r e the p l a n t a t i o n was  fully  any  other  actually  on the march, s t r i d i n g  1820 over  2 the h i l l s  of C a r o l i n a t o M i s s i s s i p p i . . . . "  the chronology  He f u r t h e r e x p l a i n s  of the South*s growth t h u s :  From 1820 to 1860 i s but f o r t y years — a l i t t l e more than the span of a s i n g l e g e n e r a t i o n . The whole p e r i o d from the i n v e n t i o n of the cotton g i n to the outbreak of the C i v i l War i s l e s s than seventy years — the l i f e t i m e of a s i n g l e man. Yet i t was wholly w i t h i n the longer of these p e r i o d s , and mainly w i t h i n the s h o r t e r , that the development and growth of the great South took p l a c e . . . . The i n f e r e n c e i s p l a i n . It i s impossible to conceive the great South as being, on the whole, more than a few steps removed from the f r o n t i e r stage at the beginning of the C i v i l War. I t i s imperative, indeed, to conceive i t as having remained more or l e s s f u l l y i n the f r o n t i e r stage f o r a great p a r t — maybe the g r e a t e r p a r t — of i t s antebellum h i s t o r y . 3 And  t h i s i s the South that the antebellum  r e g i o n a l i s t s write  about. In g e n e r a l , f r o n t i e r s m e n as a group were bound t o g e t h e r by a common c l o s e n e s s to and s t r u g g l e with the l a n d . s t r u g g l e l a r g e l y d i c t a t e d t h e i r everyday  lives.  And  This the  f a c t that they chose to grow cotton to the e x c l u s i o n of other crops, and t h i s at a time when " c o t t o n was when only a f o o l or a dunce would grow anything  king," less  74  profitable, men —  had a great e f f e c t  on the l a t e r Southern  frontiers-  i n f a c t , t h i s , along with the i n s u l a r i t y of the South,  i s perhaps another reason many l a t e r Southerners remained v i r t u a l f r o n t i e r s m e n , or at l e a s t  "red-neck f a r m e r s , " too  poor even to leave the " p a r i a h r e g i o n . "  The f i n a n c i a l  burden  of the cotton monopolies and the n a t u r a l burden of cotton's tendency t o d e p l e t e and erode the s o i l e f f e c t e d d i s a s t e r f o r g e n e r a t i o n s of S o u t h e r n e r s . Another common denominator of t h i s f r o n t i e r of i t s i n s t i t u t i o n s .  By comparison with those of the North  and the seabord s t a t e s , the s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s —  i t s r e l i g i o n , e d u c a t i o n , and government —  inchoate.  i s the nature  of t h i s  frontier  were at best  They were growing, but they were anything but s t a b l e .  The camp meeting, the school which met only when a t e a c h e r was a v a i l a b l e and then only when the c h i l d r e n were not needed by t h e i r p a r e n t s i n the f i e l d s ,  and a t r a v e l l i n g l e g a l  were the s o c i a l i n s t i t u t i o n s  of t h i s f r o n t i e r .  system  T h i s i s not  to say that there was no common meeting ground f o r f r o n t i e r s men.  T h e i r meeting p l a c e was the s t o r e , the i n n , wherever  they might speak t o one another. the  But they c o n s t i t u t e d perhaps  most heterogeneous group of peoples since the Tower of  Babel. " I t was as i f a l l the world had gone on a p i c a r e s q u e journey by g e n e r a l consent i n v a r i o u s q u a r t e r s , and at the chance roundup f o r n i g h t l y r e s t and refreshment f e l l t o t e l l i n g what, and e s p e c i a l l y whom, they had met with."4  75 The anything  frontiersmen,  i n s p i t e of t h e i r g a r r u l i t y , were  but homogeneous.  g e n e i t y might f o r e t e l l ,  As t h e i r i n s t i t u t i o n s and  the p e r v a s i v e  the r e a l core of t h e i r e x i s t e n c e was  hetero-  common denominator  and  their individualism:  ...even at the best and f u l l e s t , the i d e a of s o c i a l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y which grew up i n the South remained always a narrow and p u r e l y personal one. The defect here was fundamental i n the primary model. The V i r g i n i a n s themselves, i f they had long s i n c e become t r u l y a r i s t o c r a t i c , had n e v e r t h e l e s s never got beyond that b r u t a l i n d i v i d u a l i s m — and f o r a l l the J e f f e r s o n i a n g l o r i f i c a t i o n of the i d e a , i t was b r u t a l as i t worked out i n the p l a n t a t i o n world — which was the h e r i t a g e of the f r o n t i e r : that i n d i v i d u a l i s m which, while w i l l i n g enough to ameliorate the s p e c i f i c i n s t a n c e , r e l e n t l e s s l y l a i d down as i t s b a s i c s o c i a l p o s t u l a t e the d o c t r i n e t h a t every man was completely and wholly r e s p o n s i b l e f o r himself.5 Although there i s t h i s " b r u t a l * i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c 1  frontiersman's ment.  nature,  Because he  there  a l s o i s at l e a s t  a c e r t a i n degree of  Cash speaks about these farmers as having a l e v e l - e y e d p r i d e , an easy q u i e t n e s s ,  and  refin  the  n  gentility.  a kindly  courtesy,  a barely perceptible  which, f o r a l l i t s obvious a n g u l a r i t y  fundamental p l a i n n e s s , was  Old South produced.**^  the  as a model worthy of i m i t a t i o n , the  common yeoman farmer gained  of b e a r i n g ,  of  a h i n t of  shared the p l a n t e r s * acceptance of  Virginian aristocrat  flourish  aspect  And  something of t h i s q u a l i t y .  one  of the f i n e s t  things  the  f u r t h e r , even the poor white gaine Indeed,  A l l the way down the l i n e there was a s o f t e n i n g and g e n t l i n g of the h e r i t a g e of the backwoods. In every degree the masses took on, under t h e i r slouch, a s o r t of unkempt p o l i t e n e s s and ease of p o r t , which rendered them d e f i n i t e l y s u p e r i o r .  76  i n respect of manner, to t h e i r peers i n the r e s t of the country.7 As  Cash's words might i n d i c a t e ,  the  pervasive,  i n d i v i d u a l i s m governed every aspect of the lives.  Theoretically  enigmatic paradoxes — and  courtesy or the  ness.  And  be  the  described.  —  by  And  certainly,  emphasizing c e r t a i n  s t y l i z e d and,  to the  romanticized  milieu.  There are,  eye  variety And  the  frontier  r e a l i t i e s of of the  the  Southern humorists, the  the  modern reader, perhaps a  c r e a t i o n of  rele-  s t e r e o t y p e d r o m a n t i c i z e d South,  and  best of the  literary frontier. Harris,  illuminating  way  frontier  frontier The  of  South,  does have a h i s t o r i c a l  to come to t h e i r works;  of more importance, I t h i n k , i s the a literary frontier —  purposes of f r o n t i e r humor. Faulkner's and  a  h i s t o r i c a l v a l i d i t y of t h e i r w r i t i n g s i s ,  i n some i n s t a n c e s , an  i n the  created  this frontier —  h i s t o r i c a l Southern f r o n t i e r ;  r e l e v a n c e , and  are  humorists'  these f r o n t i e r humorists  as p o r t r a y e d by both Faulkner and  but  thus, there  only because i t i s g e n e r a l l y absent i n the  humor; the  of ways i n  then, t h r e e f r o n t i e r m i l i e u s which are  vant to f r o n t i e r humor: if  brutality  a slouching p o l i t e -  m u l t i f a r i o u s f r o n t i e r m i l i e u s of which the one.  frontierls  paradox of  apparent oxymoron of  these paradoxes i n d i c a t e  provincialism.  core of the  f o r i n s t a n c e , the  which t h i s f r o n t i e r may  i s but  common whites'  i t e x p l a i n s much of t h e i r  F u r t h e r , t h i s i n d i v i d u a l i s m i s at the  relentless  s i m i l a r i t y they especially  for  achieve the  In other words, to what extent  Harris's frontiers  are h i s t o r i c a l l y accurate  77  is  of l e s s importance  t o a study of t h e i r f r o n t i e r humor  than the f a c t that these f r o n t i e r s , are s i m i l a r .  as they present them,  Thus, the p a r a l l e l s between nineteenth century  K n o x v i l l e and t w e n t i e t h century Oxford are not r e a l l y  as  important  and  as the p a r a l l e l s between Pat Nash's grocery  W i l l Varner's Both  store.  authors achieve a c e r t a i n degree  of r e a l i s m by  t h e i r emphasis on the l a n d and i t s o b j e c t s . c h a r a c t e r s tend t o view l i f e authors themselves  Not  only do  i n terms of t h i s land, but  emphasize the t h i n g s (the animals  their the  and  o b j e c t s ) of the f r o n t i e r i n t h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n s of the l a n d and the p e o p l e .  T e c h n i c a l l y , t h i s i s f a r more t r u e of Faulkner  than of H a r r i s , f o r i n Sut Lovingood n e a r l y a l l of the c r i p t i o n s are S u t ' s .  des-  N e v e r t h e l e s s , i n i n t r o d u c i n g Sut to  the p u b l i c , H a r r i s d e s c r i b e s h i s p r i n c i p a l c h a r a c t e r as being: .•.hog-eyed, funny s o r t of a genius — fresh from some bench-legged Jew's c l o t h i n g s t o r e ; mounted on Tearpoke, a n i c k - t a i l e d , bow-necked, long, poor, p a l e s o r r e l horse, half-dandy, h a l f - d e v i l , and enveloped i n a p e r f e c t network of b r i d l e , r e i n s , crupper, m a r t i n g a l e s , s t r a p s , s u r c i n g l e s , and red f e r r e t i n g — who r e i n e d up i n f r o n t of Pat Nash's grocery among a crowd of mountaineers f u l l of fun, f o o l e r y , and mean whiskey. T h i s was Sut Lovingood. (SI 3 4 ) -  Faulkner's a t t e n t i o n to d e t a i l i s even more thorough H a r r i s ' s , and i n the f i r s t  than  two pages of The Hamlet Faulkner  d e s c r i b e s Frenchman's Bend and i t s p e o p l e .  The  land  was:  . . . p a r c e l l e d out now i n t o small s h i f t l e s s mortgaged farms f o r the d i r e c t o r s of J e f f e r s o n  78  bank8 to squabble over before s e t t l i n g f i n a l l y to W i l l Varner,... [One of the t h i n g s of t h i s land i s an o l d p l a n t a t i o n house which these people] had been p u l l i n g down and chopping up — walnut newel posts and s t a i r s p i n d l e s , oak floors — . . . f o r firewood. [The s e t t l e r s o r i g i n a l l y came t o t h i s land] i n b a t t e r e d wagons and on mule-back and even on f o o t , with f l i n t l o c k r i f l e s and dogs and c h i l d r e n and home-made whiskey s t i l l s and P r o t e s t a n t psalmbooks...They brought no s l a v e s and no Phyfe and Chippendale highboys; indeed, what they d i d b r i n g most of them c o u l d . . . c a r r y i n t h e i r hands. They took up land and b u i l t one- and two-room cabins and never p a i n t e d them... (H 3-4) Both H a r r i s and Faulkner, then, sense that the b a s i c of the backwoodsman l i e s i n what he does with what he And Faulkner, f o l l o w i n g h i s p r e d i l e c t i o n s i d e of the c o i n ,  ("They brought  and Chippendale highboys...™) the myth of an a r i s t o c r a c y  And  has.  f o r showing the other  achieves a heightened r e a l i s m by  what they do not have.  reality  explaining  no s l a v e s and no  Phyfe  thus, he h i m s e l f r e p u d i a t e s  (at l e a s t  i n r e l a t i o n t o the world  of Frenchman's Bend). Another tiers  way  i n which these two  authors* l i t e r a r y  fron-  are s i m i l a r i s through Faulkner*s lack of emphasis on  t w e n t i e t h century mechanization. i n h i s estimate of how modern technology, invention i s late  C e c i l Eby may  long the f r o n t i e r was  be generous  u n a f f e c t e d by  and h i s i m p l i e d date of the cotton g i n ' s ( i t was  i n v e n t e d i n 1793), but he does  comment on the s i m i l a r i t i e s between t h i s backwoods South the antebellum South. is  about  1890,  "Although  the time [of The  Hamletl  [ F a u l k n e r s a i d 1907 ] i t c o u l d w e l l be 8  and  I84O  79  of 1940  f o r with the exception  machine, there  i s nothing  orientation within presents things  of a cotton  g i n and the  which depends upon t e c h n o l o g i c a l 9  a p a r t i c u l a r period.™  Thus, Faulkner  a l i t e r a r y f r o n t i e r i n which h i s emphasis on  and g e n e r a l  lack of anachronisms render h i s  p a r a l l e l to H a r r i s ' s f r o n t i e r . some i n s t a n c e s  (such  sewing  as the  the  frontier  Faulkner does, however, i n  o l d Frenchman's p l a c e )  portray  a p o s t - b e l l u m f r o n t i e r , but h i s poor whites show a p r o v i n c i a l i s m p a r a l l e l to that which H a r r i s himself on the "bench-legged Jew" appear f r e g u e n t l y  and  expresses i n h i s comment  comparable sentiments which  i n u n c o l l e c t e d Sut  episodes.*^  Faulkner's poor whites would have considered  For  example,  that "...anyone  speaking the tongue with a f o r e i g n f l a v o r or whose appearance or even occupation regardless  was  strange,  of Faulkner's p o r t r a y a l of Mink i n  Mansion, n e i t h e r H a r r i s nor Faulkner c o n s c i o u s l y  the pathos of the poor whites* p o v e r t y . instances effect,  But  him  the  of Sut's f a t h e r " p l a y i n h o s s , " a l b e i t  and  the  emphasize  parallel f o r comic  report from an anonymous bystander that  "• when t h e i r [the A r m s t i d ' s ] mule d i e d three ago,  3)  of what n a t i o n a l i t y he might a f f i r m . . . . " (H  With the exception The  would have been a Frenchman  or four years  and her broke t h e i r l a n d working time about i n the  t r a c e s with the other mule'" (H 318) lack of work animals and s t r u g g l e against the f r o n t i e r .  are i n d i c a t i v e of  a g e n e r a l poverty as w e l l as  the the  the land that pervades t h i s l i t e r a t u r e  about  Both H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's lack of emphasis  80  on the pathos of the poverty of t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s tends to make the modern reader accept t h i s poverty as a s o r t of elemental c o n d i t i o n a g a i n s t which to some extent a l l the characters struggle.  And  indeed some c r i t i c s would  argue  that F a u l k n e r ' s f r o n t i e r s m e n are not p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n .  For  i n s t a n c e . Brooks makes a v a l i d p o i n t when he argues that not all  of the c h a r a c t e r s are "poor white  trash.**  They are white people, many of them poor, and most of them l i v i n g on farms; but they are not to be put down n e c e s s a r i l y as *poor whites.* ...[The unwary reader] may too e a s i l y conclude that the McCallums and the T u l l s are simply poor white trash.-11 Sut's poverty i s never acknowledged by H a r r i s i n d i r e c t statements  and perhaps, by modern standards, h i s u b i q u i t o u s  f l a s k would make him  anything but p o v e r t y - s t r i c k e n .  While  Sut i s too busy running away from and i n t o t r o u b l e t o have any job, a l l of the people of Frenchman's Bend (with the e x c e p t i o n of W i l l Varner) work at something  —  although f o r  much of The Hamlet they s i t (true to t h e i r backwoods g a r r u l i t y ) c a r v i n g and c h a t t i n g on the porch of W i l l Varner's But i f H a r r i s of  the f r o n t i e r , they do not f a i l  aspects. of  to emphasize the poverty  to exaggerate  i t s other  Both emphasize a c t i o n i n t h e i r humor, and the a c t i o n  the f r o n t i e r s m a n has  effect.  long been exaggerated f o r comic  T h i s and another common element  the motley men are  and Faulkner f a i l  store.  the f r o n t i e r was  o f t e n supposed  s u b s t a n t i a t e d by B o a t r i g h t , who  newspaper:  of f r o n t i e r humor  quotes  to attract  an e a r l y Texas  — —  81  "They have a l i t t l e town out West...which i s ' a l l s o r t s of a s t i r r i n g p l a c e . * In one day they r e c e n t l y had two s t r e e t f i g h t s , hung a man, rode t h r e e men out of town on a r a i l , got up a q u a r t e r race, a turkey shooting, a gander p u l l i n g , a match dog f i g h t , and p r e a c h i n g by a c i r c u s r i d e r , who afterwards ran a foot race f o r apple jack a l l around, and, as i f t h i s was not enough, the judge of the c o u r t , a f t e r l o s i n g h i s year's s a l a r y at single-handed poker, and whipping a person who s a i d he d i d not understand the game, went out and h e l p e d lynch h i s g r a n d f a t h e r f o r hog stealing.**12 N e i t h e r H a r r i s nor Faulkner w r i t e episodes with t h i s much a c t i o n i n them.  They both p r e f e r t o g i v e d e t a i l e d  t i o n s of s i n g l e moments of extremely  fast  descrip-  a c t i o n and Faulkner  even c a r r i e s t h i s d e t a i l e d d e s c r i p t i o n i n t o the development of  t a b l e a u s where the r e s u l t  i s not the p o s s i b l e suspended  a b s t r a c t i o n but a r e a f f i r m a t i o n and h e i g h t e n i n g of h i s literary fast  frontier.  That the r e a l f r o n t i e r had moments of  a c t i o n can h a r d l y be doubted,  universally  but that they were as  comic as Faulkner and H a r r i s render them i s q u i t e  questionable.  But here the reader's ignorance or w i l l i n g  suspension of d i s b e l i e f  i s p a r t of t h e i r c r e d i b i l i t y .  Brooks  f i n d s that the s e t t i n g of The Hamlet . . . i s one that few modern urban and suburban Americans know anything about at f i r s t hand and about which they are p e r f e c t l y w i l l i n g t o b e l i e v e anything p a r t i c u l a r l y because i t i s set i n the South and populated by poor whites. The a s s o c i a t i o n that most c i t i z e n s have with such a community i s l i k e l y t o be through A l Capp's cartoons of Dogpatch.13 Henry Watterson,  w r i t i n g of Sut Lovingood,  romantically i n d i -  cates a f u r t h e r d i s t a n c e from our modern world —  that of  82  time.  The Southwestern  humorists wrote i n an e r a when the  i n t r i c a c i e s of l i f e were more homely and uncomplicated. Wat t e rs on s ay s : They f l o u r i s h e d years ago i n the good o l d time of muster days and q u a r t e r - r a c i n g , b e f o r e the camp-meeting and the barbecue had l o s t t h e i r power and t h e i r charm; when men l e d simple, homely l i v e s , doing t h e i r love-making and t h e i r law-making as they d i d t h e i r f i g h t i n g and t h e i r plowing, i n a s t r a i g h t furrow; when there was no n a t i o n a l debt m u l t i p l y i n g the dangers and magnifying the expenses of d i s t i l l a t i o n i n the h i l l s and hollows, and p o u r i n g i n upon the l o g r o l l i n g , the q u i l t i n g , the corn-shucking, and the f i s h - f r y an i n q u i s i t o r i a l crew of t a x - g a t h e r e r s and d e t e c t i v e s t o s p o i l the sport and d u l l the edge of p a t r i o t i c husbandry• And the men who i n h a b i t removed as the s e t t i n g For,  these l i t e r a r y f r o n t i e r s  are j u s t as  and time i n which they are p l a c e d .  as Howe says, "none of the conspicuous a c t o r s i n  Faulkner's world come from the major s o c i a l groups we are 15 accustomed t o meeting  i n l i f e or l i t e r a t u r e . "  Thus, there i s a c t u a l l y frontier,  a second l e v e l of the l i t e r a r y  a l e v e l of f a n t a s y which a r i s e s  and d i s t o r t i o n  of a c t i o n  reader's u n f a m i l i a r i t y  from exaggeration  and values and i s p r e d i c a t e d by the  and n a i v e t e .  Such a legendary  as Davy C r o c k e t t i s a product of t h i s s o r t  of f a n t a s y on the  f r o n t i e r where emphasis, exaggeration, d i s t o r t i o n tions is  of u n i v e r s a l i t y  larger  figure  than l i f e .  figure  and  implica-  a l l combine t o p o r t r a y a c h a r a c t e r that But where the gargantuan f a n t a s y -  of Crockett remains  t o t a l l y removed from r e a l i t y .  83  Faulkner's and  and H a r r i s ' s f i g u r e s o s c i l l a t e between fantasy  reality.  Brooks f i n d s that Fulkner's  the same would apply to H a r r i s ' s ) use g i v e s the e f f e c t  of a " d i s t o r t i o n  (and  of t h i s  certainly oscillation  mirror."  ...The f o l k community...is so f a r removed from our own that i t seems simple t o the p o i n t of fabulousness, and yet we continue to b e l i e v e i n i t . Perhaps i t i s r e a l l y a d i s t o r t i o n m i r r o r which turns our f a c e s i n t o g r o t e s q u e l y comic c a r i c a t u r e s . . . [ a n d ] returns to us...the image of o u r s e l v e s . 1 " H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's authors*  s e t t i n g s are a l s o s i m i l a r .  passages of a c t i o n are o f t e n p l a c e l e s s .  they  viewed t h e i r scenes through t e l e p h o t o  they  focus on s p e c i f i c t h i n g s and present  of a complete scene. they  It i s as i f  lenses f o r  only the rudiments  sense of speed and  details,  confusion  of h i s sense of i d e n t i f i a b l e p l a c e .  of H a r r i s ' s s p e c i f i c i t y  to  For a l l  about the t h i n g s of the f r o n t i e r , f o r  a l l h i s emphasis on t r a c e s , r e i n s and h a l t e r s , mules horses,  indeed  By p i n p o i n t i n g t h e i r a t t e n t i o n on  i n c r e a s e the reader's  the m i n i m i z i n g  Both  and  l i z a r d s , bees, and whiskey, there i s no sense of  s p e c i f i c p l a c e i n h i s passages of a c t i o n because h i s comic episodes that i s .  c o u l d happen anywhere —  anywhere on the  Perhaps t h i s p l a c e l e s s n e s s i n H a r r i s ' s  frontier, episodes  i n d i c a t e s a s o r t of u n i v e r s a l i t y , f o r Brom Weber notes that "the geography...is scrambled together  so t h a t S u t . . . i s  everywhere at once.  The p h y s i c a l background i s vague, though  Sut  is fully  of p r e c i s e d e s c r i p t i o n . "  And  while Faulkner's  capable  (SL  xxiv)  The Hamlet i s set i n the m y t h i c a l  world  of Frenchman's Bend, The Town i s set i n J e f f e r s o n and The Mansion has v a r i o u s s e t t i n g s .  T h i s would perhaps  that the l a t t e r two novels ought t o c o n t a i n l e s s  indicate frontier  humor of a c t i o n than The Hamlet, as indeed The Mansion But though Faulkner's episodes, l i k e H a r r i s ' s ,  does.  are t y p i c a l l y  p l a c e l e s s , both authors* episodes seem r e a l t o some extent because they are permeated with t h i n g s of the f r o n t i e r . an examination  As  of h i s episodes w i l l r e v e a l , Faulkner t y p i c a l l y  sets these passages  of a c t i o n o u t s i d e of J e f f e r s o n , i n a p l a c e  where, f o r example, the chase  itself,  as w e l l as the f a n t a s t i c  image of Tom Tom and T u r l l o o k i n g l i k e **them d o u b l e - j o i n t e d half-horse f e l l e r s credible.  i n the o l d p i c t u r e books * (T 26) becomes 1  P l a c e l e s s n e s s may a l s o e x i s t w i t h i n J e f f e r s o n i n  such an episode as a **Mule i n the Yard.**  Here, the f u r i o u s  t a n g l e of mules, people, and barnyard animals extends  into  the realm of f a n t a s y by Faulkner*s c a r e f u l a t t e n t i o n to bound a r i e s and atmosphere.  The r e s u l t  i s that the minute yard,  enveloped by a t h i c k fog, becomes microcosmic  and indeed  p l a c e l e s s d u r i n g the melee. F a u l k e r and H a r r i s , besides exaggerating the a c t i o n of their literary  f r o n t i e r s , exaggerate  f o r comic e f f e c t  and perhaps  even d i s t o r t  the f r o n t i e r s m a n ' s values and a t t i t u d e s .  For i n s t a n c e , while Sut and R a t l i f f  o f t e n have p e n e t r a t i n g  i n s i g h t s of a r e a l i s t i c nature, they are both humorous i n t h e i r exaggerated  f r o n t i e r e v a l u a t i o n s of the r e l a t i v e worth  of those two elements  which p l a y such an important part i n  85  the comedy of The Hamlet —  horses and women.  Sut, i n  d e s c r i b i n g Parson B u l l e n ' s breach of confidence explodes, ' • [ t h a t ] . . . s t i n k i n o l e ground-hog!  He'da heap b e t t e r a-  s t o l e some man's hoss [than r e v e a l to the cuckolded husband Sut and h i s camp-meeting f r i e n d ' s love making]; more of him."  (SL 82)  But while Sut i m p l i e s the  I'da  thought  frontiers-  man's h i g h e r esteem f o r a horse than a woman, R a t l i f f ( i n h i s comment on Flem's a c q u i s i t i o n of Jody's horse) magnifies t h i s esteem beyond c r e d i b i l i t y  when he says, "A man  takes  your wife and a l l you got t o do to ease your f e e l i n g s i s to shoot him.  But your horse. * (H 85) 1  Thus, the humor i s  heightened by R a t l i f f ' s t h i n k i n g i n the terms of t h i s fantasy f r o n t i e r where present-day values are t o p s y - t u r v y . t h e r comedy may  result  t h i s i s the thought  And  fur-  from our u n c e r t a i n t y as to whether  of R a t l i f f ,  the f r o n t i e r s m a n , or R a t l i f f ,  the b a c h e l o r . On the s u b j e c t of Yankees, p a r t i c u l a r l y i n d u s t r y , we literary  the men  of Northern  f i n d Sut to be the more f a n t a s t i c ; t r u e t o the  f a n t a s y of H a r r i s ' s f r o n t i e r , Sut speaks with b l a t a n t  exaggerations and well-chosen  distortions.  He [the Yankee] were hatched i n a crack — i n the f r o s t y rocks where nutmegs am made outen maple, and where women p a i n t s c l o c k - f a c e s and p a i n t s shoe-pegs, and the men i n v e n t s r a t t r a p s , man-traps, and new-fangled d o c t r i n e s f o r the a i d of the D e v i l . (SL 69) And  i f the reader should have any doubts  toward  an i n t r u d e r , e s p e c i a l l y  clarifies  as t o Sut's  attitude  a Northerner, he more than  t h i s when George asks whether Bake Boyd's man  was  86  a Negro.  "Worse n o r t h a t .  He was a m i g h t y mean Y a n k e e  razor-grinder....™ ( S L 2 6 ) , B u t R a t l i f f realistic  t a k e s a more  attitude: [ N o r t h e r n e r s ] . . . d o e s t h i n g s d i f f e r e n t from u s . I f a f e l l o w i n t h e c o u n t r y was t o s e t up a g o a t r a n c h , he w o u l d do i t p u r e l y and s i m p l y b e c a u s e he h a d t o o many g o a t s a l r e a d y . He would j u s t d e c l a r e h i s roof o r h i s f r o n t porch . . . a g o a t - r a n c h and l e t i t go a t t h a t . [ B u t ] when [ a N o r t h e r n e r ] does s o m e t h i n g , he does i t w i t h a o r g a n i z e d s y n d i c a t e and a book o f p r i n t e d r u l e s and a g o l d - f i l l e d d i p l o m a f r o m t h e S e c r e t a r y o f S t a t e a t J a c k s o n . . . . (H 8 0 )  Both c h a r a c t e r s  see t h e c o n f l i c t s between t h e i n d u s t r i a l  and t h e a g r a r i a n S o u t h . t r u e o f what we m i g h t  Ratliff's  his  felt.  livelihood  although  i r o n y , which  t h a n S u t ' s , i t i s n o t any l e s s  That R a t l i f f , from s e l l i n g  in this  himself  a country-man,  sewing machines  case not n e c e s s a r i l y  a milieu,  of t h e r e a l  and t h e f a n c i f u l .  i s a typical,  of h i s l i t e r a r y  l i k e H a r r i s ' s , which i s a p e r f e c t  B o t h m i l i e u s , by v i r t u e and t h e f a n c i f u l ,  of t h i s  provide ideal  comic  as we h a v e s e e n , a n y t h i n g b u t s t r i c t l y  his obsession with marvelous literary  incongruity  incongruities f o r  seem c r e d i b l e ,  then, H a r r i s  incongruities  comic.  Indeed,  p e r se i s one s o u r c e o f t h e  c o m p l e x i t i e s of t h e t r i l o g y . milieus,  jumble  o s c i l l a t i o n between t h e  both w r i t e r s ; but i n Faulkner's h a n d l i n g , these are,  makes  a conscious, Faulknerian  stems f r o m t h e i n c o n g r u i t i e s  frontier —  real  s t a t e m e n t i s o b v i o u s l y more  e x p e c t f r o m a S o u t h e r n e r ; and i f h i s  statement i s l e s s v i n d i c t i v e strongly  North  In c r e a t i n g  their  and F a u l k n e r make t h e i n c r e d i b l e  and t h e c r e d i b l e ,  the r e a l ,  seem somewhat  87 marvelous.  And  i n t h e i r l i t e r a r y f r o n t i e r s , the s t a t e of  f l u x , both r e a l and  fanciful,  i s conducive t o humor  i n o r d i n a t e l y complex i n c o n g r u i t i e s of e f f e c t . f l u x i s that between government and groups, c l a s s e s and vincial  c l a n s who  t h i s "pariah  and who  d i s t o r t e d than that  t o , the p r e v a i l i n g c u l t u r e  are motivated by  outside  i n h a b i t e d by hyper-rindi v i d u a l i s -  are simultaneously  g e n e r a l l y drab but i s one  are remarkable f o r t h e i r p r o -  r e g i o n , " which was  t i c people who  frontier  anarchy, between e t h n i c  outlook at once more r e a l and  of, or even acceptable  The  and  b r u t a l and  somewhat  reserved  t h e i r need f o r money and fun  in a  by no means motionless land where the  which r e q u i r e s hard work at p l a n t i n g and  and no work between those times. i n s u l a r i t y , p l u s the  crop  harvesting  T h i s f l u x and c o n f u s i o n  reader's ignorance of the  the w r i t e r a p o e t i c l i c e n s e , a h o r i z o n  region,  of imaginative  and  gives freedom,  the boundaries of which remain u n d i s c o v e r e d .  II The  complexities  m i l i e u and f o r the use  i n the  incongruities in their  of simple c o n f l i c t s  and themes.  Lovingood i s b u i l t  permeates Faulkner's Snopes t r i l o g y .  are masters at v a r y i n g provide  this c o n f l i c t .  h i g h l y r e g i o n a l i z e d values  —  In the  on the  c o n f l i c t s -- that between good and e v i l .  flict  literary  t r a d i t i o n of f r o n t i e r humor, then,  sense, H a r r i s ' s Sut all  and  provide largest  simplest The  And  of  same con-  both w r i t e r s  Their l i t e r a r y f r o n t i e r s values  that  imply  strange  88  new  goods and e v i l s .  this conflict characters goods and  But  Faulkner's  superior variation  stems from h i s c r e a t i o n of o s c i l l a t i n g  (such as Tomey's T u r l ) who  represent  him h i s own  relative  s t o r y and by making  moral judge and the p r o t a g o n i s t against  d e f t l y captures h i s reader's language and i n s i g h t ,  sympathies.  suspension  evil,  of d i s b e l i e f .  Sut's  as w e l l as h i s c l e v e r n e s s i n arranging  scares'* f o r those he  reader's  thematic  evils.  H a r r i s , by having Sut t e l l h i s own  "big  on  We  c o n s i d e r s e v i l - d o e r s , gains him  the  never g u e s t i o n John B u l l e n ' s hypoc-  17 risy.  It i s f a c t —  deserves  what treatment  Sut  says so —  he g e t s .  and B u l l e n  richly  Just as e x c e s s i v e i n h i s  i n v e c t i v e and declamatory statements as he  i s in his efforts  against h i s enemies, Sut p o r t r a y s h i s enemies as i f they were Satan's henchmen on the f r o n t i e r .  For example, S t i l l y a r d s ,  the former schoolmaster, was, Sut says, ...as o i l y , s l i p p e r y a lawyer as ever took a fee...[who] p r a c t i c e d on a l l the m i s f o r t u n a t e d e v i l s round that c i r c u i t t i l l he got sassy, got n i g g e r s , got r i c h , . . . g o t r e l i g i o n and got to Congress. The f i r s t t h i n g he d i d there were to p r o f f e r to tend the C a p i t o l grounds i n onions and beans on shares; ...when he d i e s h e ' l l make the f a s t e s t t r i p to the center of soot, sorrow, and smoke on r e c o r d , not even e x c e p t i n o l e I s c a r i o t ' s f a s t time. (SL 70) Rarely does Faulkner draw such an e v i l his  tendency to complicate  t i o n s i n p o i n t of view, he  figure.  Rather, by  c h a r a c t e r s and themes by  varia-  o f t e n draws more than one  side  of  a c h a r a c t e r , and the reader may  be f a c e d with the  dilemma  of  d e c i d i n g which of the m u l t i f a r i o u s r e a l i t i e s i s most  real.  89  One  need only  i n The  Mink Snopes of The  Hamlet with Mink  Mansion to see what remarkable changes Faulkner i s  capable o f . who  contrast  In s h o r t , Faulkner avoids  drawing  characters  are, throughout the t r i l o g y , c o n s i s t e n t l y and  evil,  and h i s sense of i n c o n g r u i t y  changes i n c h a r a c t e r .  And  absolutely  e f f e c t s some r a d i c a l  many of h i s f i g u r e s (such  as  T u r l ) are c a r i c a t u r e s , capable of being p r e s e n t e d again again  and  i n the Yoknapatawpha books with a d i f f e r e n t emphasis  on t h e i r c h a r a c t e r  —  good or e v i l —  Besides p r e s e n t i n g similarity  the  i n H a r r i s ' s and  humor i s t h e i r p a r a l l e l use  as Faulkner  same b a s i c c o n f l i c t ,  a further  Faulkner's episodes of of an e q u a l l y  requires.  frontier  simple theme  —  that of r e t r i b u t i o n . . C e r t a i n l y t h i s theme i s c o n s i s t e n t with both authors* m i l i e u s  and  " b r u t a l i n d i v i d u a l i s m * * of the violence  i t does indeed r e f l e c t real frontier.  There,  such a theme might imply c o u l d even be  a pastime or e n t e r t a i n m e n t . the q u a r t e r  race  the the  considered  Eby  e x p l a i n s , "The  fight,  or the hunt was  accepted as a  competitive  s p o r t , an a f f i r m a t i o n of manhood.  [And]  like  violent personalized  a c t i o n , detached from v i n d i c t i v e n e s s or meanness, was  a  18 f a v o r i t e subject  of the  r e g i o n a l i s t s . ..  se i s h a r d l y  humorous; and  men,  and t h i n g s  beasts,  i t i s through the  i n H a r r i s * s Sut  f r o n t i e r commonplace becomes humorous. r e t r i b u t i o n to the reader,  But  Sut  violence  confusion  Lovingood that  per  of this  Having j u s t i f i e d h i s  i s unusually  r e g u l a r i n meting  90  out one hardly not  v a r i e t y of punishment — an episode  pain.  In f a c t , there i s  of r e t r i b u t i o n i n which Sut's  at l e a s t i n p h y s i c a l p a i n , and o f t e n the  circumstances  The  embarrassing  redundance of t h i s theme  the r e s u l t i n g v i o l e n c e i s , i n f a c t , one Lovingood as a book-length  and  work, f o r the s i m p l i c i t y  v i o l e n c e , n o i s e and damage can be q u i t e  tiresome. considered  a s t o r y of r e t r i b u t i o n , no such d e f e c t mars Faulkner's  treatment  of simple  of  confusion,  While the whole of the t r i l o g y might a l s o be  of h i s g r e a t e s t a r t i s t i c  be  of the d e f e c t s of  H a r r i s ' s s t o r i e s , combined with the r e p e t i t i v e  One  is  which accompany many of Sut's pranks might  c o n s i d e r e d mental p a i n .  Sut  adversary  work.  achievements i s h i s meaningful  themes; and  indeed, while r e t r i b u t i o n  a theme i s p e r v a s i v e i n the t r i l o g y , Faulkner's  shading  as  of  p a r a l l e l i n c i d e n t s , h i s a b i l i t y to vary the outcome, the motivation,  and the mode of r e t r i b u t i o n and to present  f r u s t r a t i n g lack of r e t r i b u t i o n heightens  the already  the complex  language and s t r u c t u r a l i n c o n g r u i t i e s i n the work as a whole. For i n s t a n c e , Faulkner's  treatment  of the a l l too  l a c k of meaningful r e t r i b u t i o n i n The cating Tull's  frustrating  Hamlet, besides  indi-  (indeed, Frenchman's Bend's) f r o n t i e r a t t i t u d e  of " I t a i n t none of our b u s i n e s s , " (H 72) g i v e s r i s e to much of the t e n s i o n i n the n o v e l .  This i s even more t r u e of  Town, f o r J e f f e r s o n ' s bourgeois people  m o r a l i t y h i n d e r s the towns-  from t a k i n g even such s o c i a l l y  as R a t l i f f ' s mainly i n The Hamlet.  acceptable  economic and i n t e l l e c t u a l  A l l but Tom  Tom  The  retributions  attacks on Flem  and T u r l ' s v i c t o r y over Flem  91  i n The Town and R a t l i f f ' s e f f e c t i v e r e t r i b u t i o n on Clarence Snopes i n The  Mansion produce somewhat hollow r e s u l t s .  hollow r e s u l t s perhaps r e f l e c t of e t h i c s with s t a b i l i t y  These  the twentieth century c o n f u s i o n  and of r e s p e c t a b i l i t y with the  dollar.  For i n s t a n c e , by worsting I. 0. Snopes, Mrs. H a i t u n w i t t i n g l y h e l p s Flem remove one more o b s t a c l e towards h i s goal of gaining r e s p e c t a b i l i t y i n the f a c t  in Jefferson.  Even more i r o n y  lies  that i t i s Flem Snopes and not Gavin Stevens  most v o c a l of Faulkner's  anti-Snopes  t r i u m v e r a t e ) that r i d s  J e f f e r s o n of the rapacious f a m i l y i n The c o n t a i n s a huge range of e f f e c t s  Town.  That The  Mansion  (from murder to R a t l i f f ' s  comic v i c t o r y ) which evolve from the simple theme of t i o n i s a d d i t i o n a l proof of Faulkner's l i t e r a r y v a r y i n g h i s treatment  (the  retribu-  artistry in  of t h i s theme.  Faulkner's humorous episodes, although f a r more complicated than H a r r i s ' s , have a s i m i l a r tendency of r e t r i b u t i o n  as a theme.  towards t h i s  But what complicates  recurrence  Faulkner's  humorous episodes t h e m a t i c a l l y i s h i s p r e d i l e c t i o n t o more than one ters,  s t o r y at a time, t o use  tell  a l a r g e number of  charac-  and more i m p o r t a n t l y , to extend the simplest form of  retribution,  v i o l e n c e , i n t o realms  among which one  of a more bourgeois  of h i s f a v o r i t e s i s that of b u s i n e s s .  nature, In  f a c t , the v a r i e t y of ways i n which F a u l k n e r ' s c h a r a c t e r s get back at e v i l - d o e r s i s one  reason that the world of The Hamlet  seems more r e a l than that of Sut  Lovingood.  Faulkner, by v a r y i n g the forms of r e t r i b u t i o n  And  thus,  and by p r e s e n t i n g  92  realistic half-victories, effect  complicates  i s one of c r e d i b i l i t y ;  a simple theme.  The  and the reader's r e a c t i o n i s  l i k e l y t o be i n c r e d u l o u s wonder that so much might be wrought from so l i t t l e .  Faulkner and H a r r i s , i n t h e i r use of r e t r i b u t i o n theme, f i n d v a r i o u s reasons  f o r t h i s human a c t .  make use of the most obvious at  someone —  of a l l reasons  self-interest.  This personal  as a  Both w r i t e r s  f o r g e t t i n g back retribution,  p e r s o n a l because i t i s p r i m a r i l y motivated by s e l f - i n t e r e s t , i s perhaps the most r e a l i s t i c certainly to  of f r o n t i e r r e t r i b u t i o n s .  i t i s not one, e s p e c i a l l y i n the South,  the p e a c e f u l settlement of g u a r r e l s .  And  conducive  F o r , as one c r i t i c  p o i n t s out, "recourse to l e g a l a i d t o r e d r e s s a wrong was o f t e n a c o n f e s s i o n of cowardice,  f o r the S o u t h e r n e r f e l t a 19  man should f i g h t h i s own b a t t l e s . "  And Sut and Wirt S t a p l e s ,  whose f e a r of law of any sort i s overcome by whiskey, do j u s t that.  Many of F a u l k n e r ' s c h a r a c t e r s s i m i l a r l y  s e l v e s on those who have wronged them. of  t h i s type of r e t r i b u t i o n  avenge them-  Excellent  are H a r r i s ' s " S i c i l y  Wedding" and F a u l k n e r ' s "Centaur  examples Burn's  i n Brass™ episode  i n The  Town. N e i t h e r F a u l k n e r nor H a r r i s f a i l for  to give s u i t a b l e  t h e i r c h a r a c t e r ' s r e t r i b u t i o n ; but s u r p r i s i n g l y ,  reasons  Harris,  who i s u s u a l l y o v e r l y generous i n f i n d i n g reasons f o r Sut to r e t a l i a t e , p r e s e n t s Sut with a very human reason f o r t a k i n g  93  r e t r i b u t i o n on the Burns f a m i l y — slight.  Sut's m o t i v a t i o n  frontiersman.  social  for this retribution reflects  a t t r i b u t e more i n d i c a t i v e of him typed  he i s hurt by t h e i r  one  as a human than as a s t e r e o -  As he t h i n k s of the Burns's snobbery, he  remembers S i c i l y ' s prank, " I were s l o u n g i n round the house f o r they hadn't had hurt  the manners to ask me  i n . . . I were pow'fully  'bout i t and happened to t h i n k —'SODA!'  a-watchin f o r a chance to do somethinl**  So  (SL 49)  do b r i n g s pain to everyone i n s i d e the house.  I set i n What he does  He puts a basket  over the b u l l ' s head; the b u l l backs against the beehive,  and  continues  to back i n t o the wedding f e a s t , by which time the  b u l l , Sut  says, "were the leader of the b i g g e s t  army of bees i n the world.** (SL 50)  The  and the maddest  people who  are hurt  are so r i o t o u s l y humorous i n t h e i r a n t i c s , at l e a s t  as Sut  d e s c r i b e s them, t h a t we  For  never c o n s i d e r t h e i r p a i n .  instance,  " M i s s i s Clapshaw** i s d e s c r i b e d on top of the t a b l e , " a - f i g h t i n bees l i k e  a mad  a weapon and spurrin and  w i n d m i l l with her c a l i c o cap i n one hand f o r  a cracked  frame i n t ' o t h e r ; and  a - k i c k i n and  l i k e she were r i d i n g a lazy hoss a f t e r the  a-screamin "Rape," ' F i r e , *  c o u l d name *em  over.**  (SL 52)  and  *Murder* as f a s t  doctor; as  i s removed through Sut*s  language and the f a s t  Moreover, h i s own  nonchalance  about the event tends to f u r t h e r remove us from any sense of p a i n .  she  As might already be i n d i c a t e d ,  the p a i n of the wedding guests action.  a-  real  For i n s t a n c e , he d e s c r i b e s the wedding as the  most **mis f o r t u n a t e . . . s i n c e Adam married  that h e i f e r —  what  94  were so fond of t a l k i n (SL 5 5 )  F u r t h e r , Sut  worst one  to snakes and e a t i n apples.... * 1  says, S i c i l y ' s wedding **were the  f o r n o i s e , disappointment,  h u r t i n , t r o u b l e , vexation of s p i r i t , (SL 5 5 - 5 6 ) ness —  The humorous way  **If I were j u s t  scare, breakin things, and g e n e r a l swellin.™  i n which Sut  admits h i s mean-  as smart as I am mean and  ornery,  I'd be P r e s i d e n t of a w i l d c a t bank i n l e s s ' n a week** (SL 5 6 J —  removes the l a s t t r a c e s of any  f o r Sut knows h i s own Faulkner's  conceivable disapproval,  foibles.  treatment  of the theme of p e r s o n a l  i n the "Centaur i n Brass™ passage i n The plex. two  Rarely content  to t e l l  retribution  Town i s f a r more com-  a s i n g l e s t o r y , here he  s t o r i e s of r e t r i b u t i o n so that there i s a s p l i t  f o r c e s f o r good; and,  plant  The  chase i s a  i n the whole story of Flem's defeat  superintendent.  b r i d e o f f e r s more than on T u r l ;  T u r l ' s a d u l t e r y with Tom  as power  Tom's young  enough m o t i v a t i o n f o r Tom  Tom's attack  and T u r l ' s shock, i f not n e c e s s a r i l y h i s f e a r , i s  m i t i g a t e d by  an element of fantasy which a r i s e s from the  that C h a r l e s n a r r a t e s Gowan's n a r r a t i o n of Barker's s u p p o s i t i o n of what happened when T u r l climbed and found  i n the  c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , Flem stands i n  s t a t i c o p p o s i t i o n to t h i s d i v i d e d f o r c e . minor episode  combines  ™to h i s h o r r i d surprise...Tom  dressed beneath the g u i l t with hand.™ (T 2 6 )  Tom  mere  i n the window  lying  a naked butcher  fully  knife in his  Only on t h i s h a l f - r e a l f r o n t i e r would no  get hurt i n a s i t u a t i o n  such as t h i s .  fact  In the d i t c h  one  after  95  t h e i r f u r i o u s chase the two Negroes confederate when they r e a l i z e what has happened and, as Gavin t e l l s Chick, they reach "a r a t i o n a l i t y of p e r s p e c t i v e " and r e a l i z e that  "Tom  Tom's home [was] not v i o l a t e d by Tomey's T u r l but by Flem Snopes; T u r l ' s l i f e  and limbs put i n t o jeopardy not by  Tom but by Flem Snopes." (T 28) their inordinately joined forces  And with t h i s  realization,  c l e v e r r e t r i b u t i o n on Flem proceeds.  (in i t s e l f  that he can not r e s i s t  retaliate  the power of concerted e f f o r t  i n the water tower.  against Flem.  Having  a v i c t o r y over Flem, who w e l l knows  o p p o s i t i o n ) , they put the brass where Flem o r i g i n a l l y he wanted i t —  Tom  Thus, they  of any said  successfully  But here, where Faulkner, by g i v i n g  a sign of Flora's human emotion at the news of h i s d e f e a t , c o u l d have i l l u s t r a t e d  any aspect of Flem's warped humanity,  he chooses to leave him at an a b s t r a c t l e v e l by u n d e r s t a t i n g the r e s u l t s :  "Though by the time water...would begin to t a s t e  brassy enough f o r someone to t h i n k about d r a i n i n g the tank, ...it  wouldn't be Mr. Snopes.  tendent now...." (T 29)  Because he was no longer  superin-  The i m p l i c a t i o n s of the p a r a l l e l  between Flem's and Tom Tom's cuckoldry are c l e a r ; Tom i s an a c t i v e agent f o r good.  Tom  T u r l , by v i r t u e of h i s humanity  (one i n d i c a t i o n of which might be h i s sexual a p p e t i t e i n c o n t r a s t t o Flem's s t e r i l i t y ) j o i n s the f o r c e s f o r good, and Flem's inhumanity i s c h a l l e n g e d i n a meaningful way by the two Negroes, who against them.  are motivated to r e t a l i a t e by Flem's  actions  96  The Harris, least and  theme, as  i t i s used f o r humor by  p r o v i d e s f o r comic r e v e r s a l .  i n Flem's scheming mind, too  in their furious  they are victory  i s a comic r e v e r s a l .  reduces him  theoretical to  and  Surprisingly, of  retribution  at  stupid  to grasp h i s  design  laugh .at them and  retribution,  Sut's v i c t o r i e s While h i s  i m a g i n a t i v e as Tom  n e i t h e r Faulkner nor  since  are  universally  language alone  Tom  and  to  be  Turl.  H a r r i s use  t h i s type  Although t h e i r f r o n t i e r m i l i e u  i n t h e i r humorous episodes, n e i t h e r w r i t e r Faulkner, of  i n such s e r i o u s s t o r i e s  Harris consistently good-naturedness and  course, p r e f e r s to  as Mink's two  murders; and  used t h i s theme, Sut's fantastic  would have been much l e s s  had  trouble  credible.  f o r they i n v o l v e the  might be  described  r e c o g n i t i o n of  to p r o t e c t something other than o n e s e l f .  The  and  as  a desire  object may  another person or some p r i n c i p l e the  protagonist  H a r r i s ' s and  of t h i s v e r s i o n of  F a u l k n e r ' s humorous use theme u s u a l l y  a wronged f r i e n d or  use  characteristic  speed i n outrunning  Other reasons f o r r e t r i b u t i o n  retribution  is  would expect to f i n d abundant p e r s o n a l  emphasizes t h i s theme.  altruistic,  thus,  sub-plot, t h e i r ultimate  underdog.  very much.  a p l a c e where we  it  Negroes are,  a bumpkin, h i s v i c t o r i e s prove him  as c l e v e r  and  The  s u b j e c t to r i d i c u l e i n the  those of the  equally  chase we  Faulkner  stems from a s i t u a t i o n  a broken code.  The  be  admires. the  involving  works of both  authors  97  c o n t a i n good examples of the wronged f r i e n d motif as both w r i t e r s f i n d i t conducive t o heightened humor i n that  they  can make the wrong which i s i n f l i c t e d seem humorous.  Cer-  t a i n l y , "Rare Ripe Garden Seed," the story of Mary Mastin's e a r l y c h i l d , i s i n i t s e l f humorous. "Contempt of Court —  Two more s t o r i e s ,  Almost" and "Trapping a S h e r i f f , "  p r o v i d e the even more humorous r e t r i b u t i o n s that Sut and Wirt S t a p l e s take on S h e r i f f John D o l t o n . "Mule i n the Y a r d " passage,  In F a u l k n e r ' s  the i n s t a n c e of Mr. H a i t ' s  b u s i n e s s ventures with I . 0. Snopes (the former  drives  I. O.'s team of mules across the path of oncoming f r e i g h t t r a i n s i n order t o get the r a i l r o a d company's heightens the humor of the episode i t s e l f .  indemnity)  When Mr. H a l t ' s  m i s c a l c u l a t i o n s l e a d t o h i s untimely death, Mrs. H a i t r e c e i v e s the money f o r both h e r husband and I . O.'s mules by c l a i m i n g that theonules were her husband's p r o p e r t y . By d r i v i n g h i s mules through h e r y a r d , I . 0. i s r e t a l i a t i n g on what he f i n d s a p e r s o n a l i n j u r y —  that Mrs. H a i t  not g i v e him the assessed value of the mules —  will  and Mrs.  H a i t , f o r both I . O.'s odiousness and Mr. H a i t ' s death, still  seeks revenge.  Indeed, part of Mrs. H a i t ' s e f f e c t i v e  r e t r i b u t i o n on I . 0. Snopes ( s h o o t i n g h i s mule) adds another p a r a l l e l t o Faulkner's symbolic o p p o s i t i o n of horses and mules and women, a symbolic theme which i s p e r v a s i v e i n h i s frontier  milieu.  98  The  theme of a l t r u i s t i c  r e t r i b u t i o n i t s e l f provides  p r e c i s e l y the type of s t o r y Faulkner enjoyed t e l l i n g — s i n g l e s t o r y which n e c e s s i t a t e s at l e a s t one another.  a  incident within  No one need doubt that Faulkner's temptation t o  t e l l more than one t h i s theme.  s t o r y was  indeed s a t i a t e d by the use of  Flem's d i s h o n e s t y , i t s e l f  the s u b j e c t of  "Centaur  i n B r a s s , " p r o v i d e s the s u p e r f i c i a l reason f o r Gavin t a k i n g Manfred EMF  De Spain to c o u r t .  And  Gowan's a t t a c k on De  Spain's  r o a d s t e r i s motivated by De Spain's rash t e a s i n g of  Gavin, while the t i r e - p u n c t u r e i n c i d e n t i t s e l f heightens De Spain-Stevens the "Rouncewell  rivalry  the  and thus p a r t l y conduces to both  P a n i c , " perhaps  the most l i v e l y  and  truly  laughable of Faulkner's bourgeois humor, and Gavin's  fist  f i g h t with De S p a i n .  This l a s t broken  i n c i d e n t a l s o p r o v i d e s a good example of the  code as m o t i v a t i o n f o r r e t r i b u t i o n .  f o r Gavin's  One  of the  a t t a c k on De Spain i s the mayor's and Eula's  amorous dancing, which c o n f l i c t s with Gavin's p r i n c i p l e "chastity exist  and v i r t u e i n women s h a l l be defended  or n o t . " (T 76)  Already we  see that one  theme i s the n e c e s s i t y of value judgments. ment i n v o l v e s both code.  reasons  a code and  And  an i n d i v i d u a l who  In t h i s i n c i d e n t both Gavin's  that  whether they aspect of t h i s value judgf o l l o w s that  code and h i s c o n s i s t e n c y  i n f o l l o w i n g t h a t code are humorous as they are signs of h i s g u i x o t i c , a b s t r a c t i n g nature and h i s bourgeois which i s perhaps  consciousness,  the best, at l e a s t the most f u l l y  realized  99  one  i n Faulkner's But  canon.  f a r more humorous (outside of Gavin's values  often outside  of J e f f e r s o n i t s e l f ) are the values  frontier milieu. Faulkner  use  the  but  of t h i s theme not  a l s o to i l l u m i n a t e and f i n d humor i n  f o r r e v e a l i n g strange  values,  to make the  at the outset  character  the  of the  s t o r y seem  ridicu-  Although  i n f l i c t s pain  on  of a preacher, Sut uses the boy  as  of h i s pranks because he broke the se.  frontier  Another object of Sut's scorn i s  the c i t y - s l i c k e r , u s u a l l y a Yankee. to the s t u p i d o u t s i d e r s who h i s t a l e s and  a device  a superb theme.  somewhat more than u s u a l l y c r u e l when he the s l o v e n l y , l a z y son  As  adherence to which i s apt  lous, the broken code i s c e r t a i n l y  code of a c t i v i t y per  and  only to p r e d i c a t e  f o l l o w v a r i a t i o n s of t h i s code.  an object of one  the  as f r o n t i e r humorists, both H a r r i s  aspects  riotous confusion the people who  And  of  and  Perhaps g e n e r a l l y  sometimes annoy Sut  i n s p e c i f i c reference  referring  while he  tells  to the Yankee r a z o r - g r i n d e r ,  Sut p r a i s e s the f r o n t i e r  ( i n h i s terms, K n o x v i l l e ) f o r t a k i n g  r e t r i b u t i o n on those who  break the code.  r e t r i b u t i o n , Sut  says,  is:  Part of the  frontier's  "sweepin out the i n s i d e of s t u f f e d -  up f e l l e r s ' s k u l l s c l e a n of a l l ole r u s t y , cobweb, b i g o t e d i d e a s . " (SL 27) frontiersman new  and  Rather than leave  a job h a l f done, the  r e p l a c e d these ideas, Sut  a c t i v e , ... one  king idea sure...:  a l i v e , durn i f ever I come here a g a i n . " Faulkner's humor may  be  says, with  most humorous use  "somethin  .If I g i t s away (SL  27)  of t h i s theme i n f r o n t i e r  i n R a t l i f f ' s v e r s i o n of " F o o l About a Horse™ i n  100 The Hamlet.  For, by e x p l a i n i n g A b s m o t i v a t i o n , f  Ratliff  i l l u m i n a t e s the e l d e s t Snopes's r e g i o n a l code. ...that Pat Stamper...had come i n and got a c t u a l Ybknapatawpha County cash d o l l a r s t o rattling....When a man swaps horse f o r horse, t h a t ' s one t h i n g and l e t the d e v i l p r o t e c t him i f the d e v i l can. But when cash money s t a r t s changing hands, t h a t ' s something e l s e . . . . i t ' s l i k e when a b u r g l a r breaks i n t o your house and f l i n g s your t h i n g s ever which way even i f he dont take n o t h i n g . I t makes you twice as mad. (H 34-35) And Ab's f u r i o u s adherence t o t h i s code reduces him to the f i g u r e of a v i r t u a l automaton.  Ratliff  e x p l a i n s the "pure  f a t e " which i n v o l v e s two chance f a c t s —  Pat Stamper's  camping i n J e f f e r s o n on that day and Ab's having money  —  p l u s Ab's m o t i v a t i o n t o revenge the broken code, "...the e n t i r e honor and p r i d e of the science and pastime of h o r s e t r a d i n g i n Yoknapatawpha vindicate i t . "  (H 35)  County depending on him [Ab] t o  Ab's  ridiculousness i n following  this  code and the t o o l s of h i s t r a d e , "a dimes worth of s a l t peter...and a number ten f i s h hook," p r o v i d e more than enough detachment f o r an e f f e c t i v e comic r e v e r s a l and t h i s through the theme of a l t r u i s t i c or s o c i a l  partly  retribution.  The theme of r e t r i b u t i o n f o r the broken code i s e f f e c t i v e f o r both parody and s a t i r e .  By d e s c r i b i n g Ab's m o t i v a t i o n  i n r i d i c u l o u s l y high flown E n g l i s h  ("to v i n d i c a t e the honor  and p r i d e " ) , Faulkner, or r a t h e r R a t l i f f , self  r i d i c u l e s Ab him-  and t o some extent p a r o d i e s the simple m o t i v a t i o n , as  w e l l as the language of the backwoodsman i n the t r a d i t i o n of r e g i o n a l humor as e x e m p l i f i e d by H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood.  101  And H a r r i s , by g i v i n g Sut such human emotions  as f e a r  and  sexual d e s i r e and making him f o l l o w a code at l e a s t somewhat l e s s m y t h i c a l than that of man  i n the w i l d e r n e s s , may  be  20 parodying the e a r l i e r r e g i o n a l i s t s .  In f a c t ,  Bernard  DeVoto notes the wide range of u l t i m a t e e f f e c t s d e r i v e d from the Southwestern fiction.  humorists* c u r i o u s mixtures of f a c t  In t h e i r works, he f i n d s , " f a n t a s y and r e a l i s m  s i d e by s i d e .  In the same way,  burlesque and  and exist  extravaganza,  which are t h e o r e t i c a l l y d e r i v e d from f a n t a s y , are h a r d l y to 21 be separated from s a t i r e , H a r r i s ' s Sut Lovingood  a d e r i v a t i v e of r e a l i s m . "  and F a u l k n e r * s t r i l o g y  wide ranges of e f f e c t .  Both  exhibit  In p a r t t h i s range d e r i v e s from the  f a c t that there are numerous f r o n t i e r m i l i e u s and thus any statement might  such  almost  be c o n s i d e r e d some s o r t of d i s t o r t i o n of  one of these m i l i e u s .  H a r r i s and, t o an even g r e a t e r extent,  Faulkner, although h i s d i s t o r t i o n s are l e s s  consistently  humorous than h i s p r e d e c e s s o r ' s , m a n i f e s t l y d e l i g h t  in this  wide range of e f f e c t s . H a r r i s uses the theme of r e t r i b u t i o n , both s o c i a l p e r s o n a l , as a v e h i c l e f o r s a t i r e . sheriffs,  and  The Yankees, lawyers,  and lazy boys that Sut r e t a l i a t e s against represent  people and human t r a i t s that H a r r i s scorned.  In Sut L o v i n -  good H a r r i s g e n e r a l l y  as w e l l as  s a t i r i c propaganda.  achieves a comic e f f e c t  He p r e s e n t s h i s h a t r e d f o r these people  i n both the concrete d e t a i l s of t h e i r wrongs, as Sut d e s c r i b e s them —  a t a v e r n keeper  hungry dog wouldn*t  served him food which he says "A  have smelt...nor a experienced buzzard  102  even l i t onto i t . . . * *  (SL 197) —  value judgments of Sut — r a z o r - g r i n d e r . . . . * * (SL 26)  and i n the more  subjective  **He were a mighty mean Yankee A post-war  appear i n Sut Lovingood i n d i c a t e s  how  sketch which d i d not vitriolic  Harris's 22  s a t i r e might be. Sut merely  rails  In **Sut Lovengood, on the P u r i t a n Yankee,  tt  against the Northeners, and the only element  of humor i n t h i s sketch i s Sut's down-to-earth  language.  And  i n Sut Lovingood. whenever the reader r e c o g n i z e s H a r r i s ' s more d i r e c t d i a t r i b e s , —  as i n Sut's t r i p with " o l d Abe Linkhorn**  *»0ur f o o l - k i l l e r s have done t h e i r duty, and consequently  the South have seceded * (SL 227) — 1  what l e s s humorous. of r e t r i b u t i o n  Sut h i m s e l f becomes some-  In g e n e r a l , however, H a r r i s ,  i n h i s use  as a theme i n Sut Lovingood. achieves both  comedy and s a t i r e .  Where he does not use such a theme to  provide him with a s t o r y , modern reader, perhaps  he i s l e s s humorous, and to the  less effective  as a s a t i r i s t .  Faulkner a l s o uses the theme of s o c i a l r e t r i b u t i o n f o r satiric effects. might  well  H i s **By the People * passage  Mansion  be c o n s i d e r e d s a t i r e on the Southern p o l i t i c i a n s  i n g e n e r a l and perhaps particular.  And,  on those of northern M i s s i s s i p p i i n  like Harris,  of h i s age, Faulkner emphasizes —  i n The  1  a favorite  in treating  the p o l i t i c i a n s  Clarence Snopes's h y p o c r i s y  theme of Southern p o l i t i c a l s a t i r i s t s .  In The  Town De Spain's laughable act of r e t r i b u t i o n on the " o l d mossbacks, * Mayor Adams and C o l o n e l S a r t o r i s 1  t h e i r law which p r o h i b i t e d  —  that  automobiles on the s t r e e t s  of hanging of  103 J e f f e r s o n on the w a l l s of the courthouse — satiric.  i s perhaps m i l d l y  F u r t h e r , i n the "Spotted H o r s e s " s e c t i o n of The  Hamlet. the peasants* d e s i r e t o get something f o r nothing which, i r o n i c a l l y ,  i s the same e v i l they think Flem g u i l t y  of, i s perhaps a s a t i r i c statement about the poor whites* dog-eat-dog economics and the p r o g r e s s of Snopesism i n Frenchman's Bend. satiric  While Faulkner i s l e s s  consistently  i n h i s s t o r i e s of s o c i a l r e t r i b u t i o n than H a r r i s ,  both w r i t e r s do r e a l i z e the s a t i r i c p o s s i b i l i t i e s of the theme• Both authors are masters at combining the p e r s o n a l and s o c i a l m o t i v a t i o n of r e t r i b u t i o n .  In "The Widow McCloud's  Mare," S t i l l y a r d s deserves Sut's r e t r i b u t i o n from both a p e r s o n a l and s o c i a l p o i n t of view.  Sut more than l i k e l y  takes as a p e r s o n a l i n j u r y h i s r i d i c u l o u s l y meager o f f e r of "a g i l l  of whiskey** as payment f o r h e l p i n g him.  And he com-  mits the s o c i a l s i n of being a Yankee and a lawyer who got r i c h p r a c t i c i n g on the " m i s f o r t u n a t e devils™ with whom Sut identifies. to r e t a l i a t e .  Thus, Sut i s p e r s o n a l l y  and s o c i a l l y motivated  R a t l i f f ' s v i s i o n of Flem i n H e l l i s a l s o  p r e d i c a t e d by more than one m o t i v a t i o n .  Flem's shady note  h a n d l i n g i n the goat trade might be grounds f o r R a t l i f f ' s personal r e t r i b u t i o n . one who  And h i s d e s i r e to see E u l a marry some-  i s more d e s e r v i n g of her might be the b a s i s f o r the  wronged f r i e n d m o t i f .  Further, h i s sense that Flem i s  economically r u t h l e s s might p r o v i d e R a t l i f f with grounds f o r h i s i n t e l l e c t u a l  altruistic  and a l l too f r u s t r a t i n g  vision  104  of  Flem amidst f i r e  consistently  and brimstone.  combines the d i f f e r e n t  b u t i o n f a r more than does F a u l k n e r . how  Of the two  authors, H a r r i s  a n a l y t i c a l types of This indicates  retri-  perhaps  much H a r r i s ' s p o l e m i c a l j o u r n a l i s m a f f e c t e d h i s thematic  considerations.  The  same f a c t  a l s o i n d i c a t e s that Faulkner  r e p r e s e n t s m o t i v a t i o n f o r r e t r i b u t i o n i n a more r e a l i s t i c than H a r r i s .  way  That H a r r i s takes great pains t o stack the cards  against Sut's a d v e r s a r i e s becomes obvious when one c o n s i d e r s how  o f t e n one meets a Yankee-cum-avaricious  Congressman who  lawyer-cum-  " p r o f f e r s t o tend the C a p i t a l grounds i n  s h a r e s " i n American  literature.  But i n t h e i r a t t i t u d e towards r e t r i b u t i o n ,  especially  as a comic theme, Faulkner and H a r r i s have a p a r a l l e l  admira-  t i o n f o r the necessary a s s e r t i o n of i n d i v i d u a l i s m i n an act of  retribution.  violent  T h i s i s not to say they admire  retribution.  v i o l e n c e or  Rather, H a r r i s and Faulkner create a  comic e f f e c t by t h e i r use of the v i o l e n c e that  retribution  p r o v i d e s ; and moreover, both condone i n comic passages  the  r e t r i b u t i o n c o n s i s t e n t with t h e i r m i l i e u s .  as he  One  feels,  reads t h e i r works, that both authors have a romantic love for,  and a l i t e r a r y  frontier. in  Perhaps  skill  i n p r e s e n t i n g , the l i f e  the essence of what both authors present  t h e i r comic episodes i s the backwoodsman's p e r e n n i a l  a s s e r t i o n of h i s sturdy i n d i v i d u a l i s m . him  of the  and .at him, we  While we  laugh with  r a r e l y can b r i n g o u r s e l v e s t o s t e a d i l y  d i s l i k e the m y t h i c a l poor  white.  105  While H a r r i s uses h i s squabbles purposes,  f o r comedy and  Faulkner surpasses H a r r i s ' s e f f o r t s by  this essentially  magnifying  simple theme i n t o a complex o r c h e s t r a t i o n  of human response of Faulkner's  satiric  i n a h a l f - r e a l , h a l f - i m a g i n a r y world.  artistry  lies  in h i s a b i l i t y  Part  not only t o achieve  complex and v a r i e d e f f e c t s from t h i s theme, but i n h i s a b i l i t y t o d e a l with many d i f f e r e n t themes i n i m a g i n a t i v e and meaningf u l ways.  While  the c o m p l e x i t i e s of h i s treatments  themes of love and power are l e s s conducive  of the  to humor than  the  theme of r e t r i b u t i o n , they i n d i c a t e the magnitude of the artistry  in his trilogy.  Even i n the c o m p l e x i t i e s of laugh-  able humor Faulkner surpasses h i s p r e d e c e s s o r s . Sut Lovingood  do we  f i n d such  R a t l i f f ' s damnation of Flem.  Nowhere i n  an i m a g i n a t i v e r e t r i b u t i o n  as  And nowhere i n Hooper's whole  book of Simon Sugg's economic f e a t s do we  f i n d anything as  complex as R a t l i f f ' s goat t r a d e .  Just as Faulkner's use p a r a l l e l t o H a r r i s ' s use  i n provoking humorous s i t u a t i o n s ,  some of h i s humorous p l o t s have p a r a l l e l s  of the theme of r e t r i b u t i o n i s  and i n c i d e n t s w i t h i n these  i n Southwestern humor.  that between Sut's  and R a t l i f f ' s  prominence, f i g u r e s remarkably  liff's  some c r i t i c a l  n a r r a t i o n has  such p a r a l l e l i s  a t t a c k s on f i g u r e s of p u b l i c  alike for their hypocrisy,  John B u l l e n and Clarence Snopes. to r e c t i f y  One  plots  Cleanth Brooks,  i n attempting  c o n f u s i o n as t o what r e l a t i o n  to r e a l i t y ,  says:  Rat-  106  Apparently, i t does not occur to them [ t h e commentators] to allow f o r the broad embell i s h i n g s of a t a l e which R a t l i f f d e v i s e d and got c i r c u l a t i n g through the community and which was so good a story that i t caught on, and by t u r n i n g Clarence i n t o a laughing stock made o l d W i l l Varner withdraw h i s support.23 That t h i s v i c t o r y be p l a y e d down as the t a l l e s t —  that i s , a t a l l  of t a l l  tales  t a l e on an already m y t h i c a l f r o n t i e r  —  i s n e i t h e r c o n s i s t e n t with thematic development nor with the a r t i s t i c freedom  that Faulkner has developed with such  throughout h i s t r i l o g y .  Ratliff's  and Sut's p a r a l l e l  skill comic  v i c t o r i e s are wholly w i t h i n the t r a d i t i o n of Southwestern humor and s i m i l a r l y animals.  i n c o r p o r a t e the confusion of man and  The humorous passages  of action i n Sut Loving;ood  a r i s i n g from the same source are indeed innumerable; when they are  not i n f a c t the i n c i d e n t of humor i t s e l f ,  by Sut's language.  they are i m p l i e d  In the t r i l o g y v e r s i o n s of "The Waifs** and  "Centaur i n Brass** p r e c i s e l y the same sort of language Moreover,  implies  the  c o n f u s i o n of man and b e a s t .  as we have seen,  the  "By the P e o p l e , " " F o o l About a Horse,™ "Mule i n the Y a r d , "  and "Spotted H o r s e s " episodes focus on j u s t such c o n f u s i o n as a major source of humor.  In t h i s l a s t , the i n c i d e n t of  an animal -- a l a r g e f r o n t i e r animal —  being i n s i d e a house  i s the same i n c i d e n t that makes f o r the laughable humor of Harris's " S i c i l y  Burns' Wedding.™  Yet another p a r a l l e l i s found i n the two authors*  ability  to  provoke humor through the use of comments on the g u a l i t y  of  food.  Whether r e t r i b u t i o n or i n c r e d u l o u s amazement motivates  107  the c h a r a c t e r , the e f f e c t proprietor.  i s the same —  embarrassment to the  At "Tripetown, ** where Sut was  says, I t r i e d  a bite,  tt  served food  and i t flew outen my  been a s t e e l mattress  s p r i n g c o i l e d i n my  mouth l i k e  He  better coffee.  there'd  throat,™ (SL  he waits u n t i l there i s a long l i n e of d i s s a t i s f i e d behind him.  and  196)  customers  then g i v e s the p r o p r i e t o r advice on making To improve on the c o f f e e now  Sut recommends, " j u s t you —  being  served,  i n s t e a d of makin outen o l e boot-  lets —  put i n about h a l f of a o l e wool hat chopped-fine,  nor you  chops your hash say, i n t o p i e c e s a inch square.  w i l l h e l p the t a s t e pow'ful, (SL 197)  S i m i l a r l y humorous i s Eck's q u e s t i o n about the meat  ber of people p r e s e n t .  we  It  and not set the s m e l l back a b i t . "  at Flem's c a f e ; and Faulkner,  r i g h t out  finer  Eck  l i k e H a r r i s , emphasizes the num-  says, "not even p r i v a t e l y  but  loud where h a l f a dozen s t r a n g e r s • • . h e a r d him:  supposed to be s e l l i n g beef  'Aint  i n these here hamburgers?  I  don't know j e s t what t h i s i s yet but i t a i n t no beef.'™ (T  33)  These few examples i n a d d i t i o n to those c i t e d elsewhere i n this thesis,  reflect  the m u l t i f a r i o u s p o s s i b l e p l o t  dent p a r a l l e l s between H a r r i s and Faulkner.  H  And  and  inci-  similar  25 p a r a l l e l s to other Southwestern humorists Faulkner's f a m i l i a r i t y with the genre.  h e l p to s u b s t a n t i a t e  Many of these  are,  l i k e the Ike-cow s t o r y , so f a r removed from (and g e n e r a l l y improved upon) t h e i r probable h a r d l y be  recognized.  sources that the p a r a l l e l s  can  108  The  very d i f f i c u l t y of a s c e r t a i n i n g p r e c i s e l y which  i n c i d e n t s he d i d borrow and which he coined h i m s e l f i s testimony yarns —  to Faulkner's a r t i s t r y  i n topping h i s predecessor's  the p r i n c i p l e from which the whole genre e v o l v e s .  Through the i n v e n t i o n of s i m i l a r l i t e r a r y  m i l i e u s , the choice  and execution of a simple theme, and the use of s i m i l a r p l o t s and i n c i d e n t s , Faulkner, l i k e H a r r i s , c r e a t e s a mythology. Faulkner's and H a r r i s ' s mythologies  are those of the back-  woods, "mythologies,** as Constance Rourke says, "which d i s b e l i e v e d i n and s t i l l 26 on i n v e n t i o n . "  men  r i o t o u s l y enjoyed, heaping i n v e n t i o n  109  FOOTNOTES:  CHAPTER IV  ''"Howe, pp. 2 2 - 2 3 . W.  2  J . Cash, The Mind of the South  p. 1 0 .  pp. 1 0 - 1 1 .  Ibid..  3  (New York, 1 9 6 1 ) ,  ^George E. Woodberry, America i n L i t e r a t u r e (New York, 1 9 0 3 ) , p. 1 5 9 , as guoted by B l a i r i n Native American Humor. P. 7 5 5  C a s h , p. 81.  6  Ibid.,  Ibid., g  7  p. 72. pp. 7 2 - 7 3 .  W i l l i a m Faulkner,  Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y , p. 2 9 .  E b y , p. 18. *^See The Lovingood Papers, ed. Ben H a r r i s McClary, 1962-1963. T h i s p e r i o d i c a l i s i n the process of p u b l i s h i n g those "Sut** s t o r i e s which are not i n c o r p o r a t e d i n Sut L o v i n good. Because these s t o r i e s are p u b l i s h e d i n t h e i r o r i g i n a l form, the language guoted from them i n t h i s t h e s i s w i l l show more grammatical and o r t h o g r a p h i c a l d e v i a t i o n s than those guotes from Sut Lovingood. ed. Brom Weber (New York, 1 9 5 4 ) . 9  **Brooks, p. 1 0 . 12  Quoted from the Texas Monument. J u l y 9 , 1851, by Mody C. B o a t r i g h t , F o l k Laughter on the American F r o n t i e r (New York, 1949), l 3  P. 16.  B r o o k s , p. 1 9 3 "  * Henry Watterson, ed.. O d d i t i e s of Southern L i f e and Character (New York, 1882), v i i . 4  15  Howe, p. 7 .  l 6  B r o o k s , pp. 1 8 9 - 1 9 0 .  1 7  S e e p. 127 of Chapter V of t h i s t h e s i s .  1 ft A O  1 9  E b y , p. 1 7 . Ibid..  p. 1 6 .  ^  110 20  H a r r i s ' s i n v e n t i o n of Sut as a p l a y f u l scoundrel whose code i s d i s t o r t e d , but e s s e n t i a l l y r e a l , might be cons i d e r e d a parody both on the myths of the o l d South of the seaboard s t a t e s and on the already s t y l i z e d exaggerated h u n t e r - g i a n t , such as C r o c k e t t . "Blown Up With Soda™ i s a good example. I t i s u n l i k e l y that such r i o t o u s a c t i o n would have been a p a r t of the myth of the o l d c u l t u r e d South or that e a r l i e r s t r o n g men would have been duped by merely a b e a u t i f u l woman. 21  De  Voto, p.  241.  22 George Washington H a r r i s , "Sut Lovengood, on the P u r i t a n Yankee." The Sut Lovingood Papers. 1963, pp. 57-60.  2^  -'Brooks, p.  235.  01  ^Brom Weber c i t e s yet another p a r a l l e l (which, although not r e l e v a n t t o the t r i l o g y per se, again r e f l e c t s the connect i o n between the two authors) when he w r i t e s of "the b a s i c a l l y i d e n t i c a l p l o t s t r u c t u r e of H a r r i s ' s u n c o l l e c t e d " W e l l ! Dad's Dead" and F a u l k n e r ' s As I Lay Dying." (SL x i i i - x i v ) 25 F a u l k n e r ' s " F o o l About a Horse™ episode does have p a r a l l e l s with L o n g s t r e e t ' s "Horse Swap" i n both c h a r a c t e r m o t i v a t i o n , that of wanting t o beat the other man i n a trade which i s viewed more as a sport than as a b u s i n e s s , and i n the comic r e v e r s a l . A f u r t h e r s i m i l a r i t y i s the f i g u r e of the small boy i n each s t o r y . But Faulkner, through h i s r e p e t i t i o n of t r a d i n g , the reappearance of the same horse throughout the t r a d i n g , and through the symbolic r e l e v a n c e of horses and cream s e p a r a t o r s , m a n i f e s t l y e x c e l s Longstreet i n the p r e s e n t a t i o n of pure f a r c e . 26 Constance Rourke, "Examining the Roots of American Humor," American S c h o l a r . IV (Spring, 1935), 251John C u l l e n , perhaps u n w i t t i n g l y , r e v e a l s the importance of Faulkner's p l a c e i n the c o n t i n u a t i o n of t h i s l i t e r a r y genre when he speaks about the "Spotted Horses" s e c t i o n of The Hamlet. He s a y s : "The i n v e n t e d d e t a i l s i n t h i s s t o r y are absurd. Anyone would know b e t t e r than to chain a s t r i n g of w i l d ponies to a barbed wire as the Texan d i d i n the s t o r y . Much l e s s , a man from Texas. Guts would have been strung about i n short o rde r . Some of F a u l k n e r ' s w r i t i n g i s f i n e reading t o s e l l the Yankees." John B. C u l l e n i n c o l l a b o r a t i o n with F l o y d C. Watkins, Old Times i n the Faulkner Country (Chapel H i l l , 1961), pp. 63-64. My i t a l i c s .  0  Ill  V.  The  Character  c o m p l e x i t i e s of H a r r i s ' s and e s p e c i a l l y Faulkner's  m i l i e u s , themes, and s t r u c t u r e s culminate i n the two characterizations.  In t h i s chapter these f r o n t i e r c h a r a c t e r s  are d i v i d e d i n t o two tural.  authors'  a n a l y t i c a l groups:  thematic and  struc-  In the i n t r o d u c t o r y s e c t i o n I f u r t h e r group them i n  r e l a t i o n to the numerous s t e r e o t y p e d f r o n t i e r s .  The  similarity  s t r u c t u r e s perhaps  of the two  authors* m i l i e u s , themes, and  suggest p a r a l l e l s  in characterization.  Both authors* c h a r a c t e r s r e f l e c t u n b e l i e v a b l e and aspects of mythology. mythologies  And because  H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's  are wholly or p a r t l y comic, t h e i r c h a r a c t e r s are  o f t e n types r a t h e r than i n d i v i d u a l s .  1  seem t o be r e a l people p a r t l y because  These typed c h a r a c t e r s they are c o n t r a s t e d  with f u l l y developed c h a r a c t e r s and p a r t l y because f r o n t i e r s themselves This s t y l i z a t i o n In f a c t ,  inventive  are  literary  stylized.  i s not without h i s t o r i c a l  as e a r l y as 1782,  the  Grevecoeur,  precedent.  i n h i s essay, **What  2 is  an American,**  costal  d i v i d e s America  i n t o three segments —  the  (and i n the North) i n d u s t r i a l i z e d c i t i e s , the near  frontier,  and the f a r f r o n t i e r .  He f i n d s American  expansion to r e s u l t from the p i o n e e r s * conquest  westward  of the  wilderness which precedes the s e t t l i n g of the l a n d . according to Crevecoeur, the men  Further,  of these v a r i o u s Americas  112  d i f f e r considerably.  For the f a r f r o n t i e r a t t r a c t s those  men who are adventurers p u r e l y f o r the sake of adventure. Almost  t o t a l l y u n d i s c i p l i n e d , these men l i v e l i k e p i g s --  b e t t e r , l i k e w i l d boar — institutions.  and r e l i s h  a s o c i e t y without  On the other hand, the s e t t l e r s of the near  f r o n t i e r b u i l d a more s t a b l e s o c i e t y , one s u i t a b l e t o t h e i r a g r a r i a n economy which interest  in itself  i n a community.  implies t h e i r greater  Crevecoeur f i n d s that t h e i r common  m o t i v a t i o n p l u s t h e i r h e t e r o g e n e i t y tends t o make them more tolerant  and thus more democratic than e i t h e r t h e i r hyper-  i n d i v i d u a l i s t i c p r e c u r s o r s or the urban p o p u l a t i o n which to some extent already e t h n i c a l l y grouped by 17#2. t i o n t o the s t y l i z e d n i n e t e e n t h century Souths,  was  In r e l a -  ( r a t h e r than  the t o t a l America Crevecoeur o u t l i n e d i n the eighteenth century) these three c a t e g o r i e s need very l i t t l e m o d i f i c a tion.  Characteristically  the Southern  l e s s i n d u s t r i a l i z e d than the North,  seabord has always  r e f l e c t e d a more p o l i s h e d ,  Europeanized, and a r i s t o c r a t i c c u l t u r e than that of the interior.  The f a r f r o n t i e r of the South was reputedly even 3  more v i o l e n t ^ than i t s Northern c o u n t e r p a r t . t i o n t o America  Thus, i n r e l a -  i n g e n e r a l , the s t y l i z e d South c o n t a i n e d the  uttermost extremes  of Americans  pioneers to the e f f e t e  -- from the q u a s i - b e s t i a l  aristocrats.  The range i n the genre of Southwestern  humor encom-  passes such a f i g u r e of the f a r f r o n t i e r as Hooper's Simon Suggs and such an a r i s t o c r a t  as L o n g s t r e e t ' s V i r g i n i a n .  113 In Sut Lovingood. these c o n t r a s t s are l e s s v i v i d .  But  such  r u t h l e s s scoundrels as B u l l e n and the p r o p r i e t o r at Tripetown certainly frontier  represent the dregs, i f not the core, of the f a r already moved west; and were H a r r i s ' s  sympathies  f o r the South  political  l e s s m i l i t a n t , the weak i n t e l l e c t u a l s  that i n t e r r u p t Sut c o u l d as w e l l be Southern as Northern. That i s , one f e e l s that Sut would hate t h e i r i l k whatever their origin,  as the e s s e n t i a l c o n f l i c t  between them i s one  between the f r o n t i e r s m a n and the non-frontiersman. trilogy  c o n t a i n s such f i g u r a t i v e beasts as Byron Snopes's  Indian c h i l d r e n Backus,  Faulkner's  and such i n e f f e c t u a l a r i s t o c r a t s  whose l i f e  i n the t r i l o g y  as  Mr.  i s j u s t i f i a b l e only as a  f u r t h e r i l l u m i n a t i o n of the s i m i l a r f i g u r e , Gavin Stevens. While Gavin i s not as i n a c t i v e as Backus,^ contemplate  t h e i r tendency t o  r a t h e r than do i s s i m i l a r and n e i t h e r have a  p l a c e on the f r o n t i e r , f a r or near. Even  a cursory examination of Sut, R a t l i f f ,  terms of Crevecoeur's f r o n t i e r groups similarities Ratliff, a facet  and Flem i n  r e v e a l s the r a c o n t e u r s *  and some of the o r i g i n s of Flem's h a t e f u l n e s s .  l i k e Sut, stands f o r decency of the near f r o n t i e r —  t i v e American's  r e a l home.  as he begins h i s r i s e .  and f a i r p l a y , notably  the p e a c e - l o v i n g and c o n s t r u c -  Flem,  l i k e Simon Suggs, i s r u t h l e s s  But Flem Snopes commits the most  grievous of crimes i n terms of f r o n t i e r e t h i c s .  He  figuratively  moves from west to east, from, as Gavin says, " s c r a t c h (scratch?  s c r a t c h was  euphemism indeed f o r where he  started  114 f r o m ) . . . " (T 283) t o a house that R a t l i f f  says "might  been the s o l i d a r i s t o c r a t i c symbol of Alexander ....»  (M 154)  Americas:  And Flem embodies the worst  have  Hamilton  of a l l three  l i k e the most odious of p i o n e e r s , he i s r u t h l e s s l y  d e s t r u c t i v e as he conquers  nature; l i k e the worst of the near  f r o n t i e r s m e n , he i s only i n t e r e s t e d i n those  institutions,  such as law, which f u r t h e r h i s advance; and, l i k e the worst of urban people, he values the t r a p p i n g s of c i v i l i z e d man, not the i d e a l s of honesty best they r e p r e s e n t .  and s o c i a l l e a d e r s h i p which at t h e i r  Flem i s n e i t h e r the masculine  pushing westward, the honest  settler striving f o r a better  community, nor a c u l t u r e d a r i s t o c r a t . the worst  American  Perhaps he r e p r e s e n t s  aspects of both nineteenth and twentieth century  nouveaux r i c h e s without even the i n g r a t i a t i n g , comic  element  of bad t a s t e —  f o r Flem*s sense of u t i l i t y per se leads him  to buy at l e a s t  the a p p r o p r i a t e veneer of r e s p e c t , and t h i s  at the lowest p o s s i b l e cash expense.  In p a r t , then, much of  Flem's h a t e f u l n e s s stems from h i s un-American aspects i n terms of the s t y l i z e d f r o n t i e r . wealth and adventure  S o c i a l p r e s t i g e , the p u r s u i t of  are American  g o a l s ; but to stop when one  succeeds, to gloat with s a t i s f a c t i o n i s the a n t i t h e s i s of a l l the best American  characteristics.  In these terms, Flem Snopes  has no p r o t o t y p e i n n i n e t e e n t h century f r o n t i e r humor. Still,  both H a r r i s and Faulkner do c r e a t e c h a r a c t e r s who  roughly correspond t o the three Americas the e i g h t e e n t h c e n t u r y .  Crevecoeur saw i n  While the i n s i g h t s that d e r i v e from  p l a c i n g these c h a r a c t e r s on the v a r i o u s f r o n t i e r s r e v e a l the  115  two  authors* keen s e n s i t i v i t i e s t o b a s i c American s t e r e o -  types, the s i m i l a r i t i e s between H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's f r o n t i e r c h a r a c t e r s are s u b s t a n t i a t e d when these c h a r a c t e r s are a n a l y t i c a l l y Both  grouped.  authors c r e a t e thematic and s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s , ^  and both use p a r a l l e l techniques of c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n .  Their  thematic c h a r a c t e r s are often c a r i c a t u r e s ; but the major s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s , such as Sut and R a t l i f f , and C h a r l e s , are r e a l c h a r a c t e r s . c h a r a c t e r s such *  n  it  The minor s t r u c t u r a l  as George i n Sut Lovingood,  The Town, are u s e f u l f o r t h e i r  and Gavin  language  and Het and Harker alone, which, while  does r e v e a l t h e i r v a r i o u s p e r s o n a l i t i e s , does not make  them important  characters.  c h i e f l y f o r the language  These c h a r a c t e r s e x i s t ,  then,  they use, and i n George's case, t o  ask Sut the q u e s t i o n s which l e a d him i n t o h i s n a r r a t i o n s . The major s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s are o b v i o u s l y a l s o thematic c h a r a c t e r s , but i t i s t h e i r s t r u c t u r a l importance them as complete  that r e v e a l s  p e r s o n a l i t i e s -- at l e a s t i n c o n t r a s t t o the  thematic c h a r a c t e r s . For these thematic c h a r a c t e r s are often c a r i c a t u r e s , and while Faulkner's c a r i c a t u r e s may appear t o be r e a l people at times and no l e s s than demigods at other times, the two authors use  s i m i l a r methods i n c h a r a c t e r i z i n g these f i g u r e s .  Commonly,  H a r r i s and Faulkner emphasize the few p h y s i c a l or mental asp e c t s of these c a r i c a t u r e s and thereby i n d i c a t e the p a r t i c u l a r aspects of good or e v i l they i n t e n d these f i g u r e s t o p e r s o n i f y .  116  In S u t Lovingood. evil,  a l l of S u t ' s enemies a r e c a t e g o r i c a l l y  while i n the t r i l o g y ,  anti-Snopeses characters  are e n t i r e l y  n e i t h e r t h e Snopeses, nor the good o r e v i l .  In grouping h i s  i n t h i s way, F a u l k n e r a c h i e v e s a more  realistic  and more c o m p l e x r e p r e s e n t a t i o n o f t h e f o r c e s i n h i s b a s i c conflicts.  The S n o p e s e s h a v e t h e i r E c k ; and t h e a n t i - S n o p e s e s  have Henry A r m s t i d .  No s u c h  realism complicates Sut Lovin-  good. But  this  characters to treat  i s n o t t h e o n l y way i n w h i c h  a r e more r e a l i s t i c  Faulkner's  thematic  than H a r r i s ' s , f o r F a u l k n e r  them n o t as c a r i c a t u r e s , b u t as r e a l p e o p l e .  tends  And  t h e c o m p l e x i t i e s o f t h e s e c h a r a c t e r s a r e f u r t h e r e d by F a u l k n e r ' s s h i f t i n g p o i n t s of view,  comparing  and t r e a t i n g them i n d i f f e r e n t  them t o v a r i o u s s t a n d a r d s ,  languages.  T h u s , as t h e y  a c t t h e y may g a i n o r l o s e c e r t a i n g u a l i t i e s  as d i f f e r e n t n a r r a t o r s  d e s c r i b e them a n d as t h e y come i n c o n t a c t w i t h o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s ; and w h i l e H a r r i s ' s  similar figures  o r w h i t e , F a u l k n e r ' s seem t o be g r e y - t o n e d , that  of h i s m i l i e u ,  an o s c i l l a t i n g g r e y  thematic  remain  and t h i s ,  black like  at t h a t .  Because of h i s wider t h e m a t i c range, of t h e w o r k , and F a u l k n e r ' s a b i l i t y  inter-  the sheer length  to integrate the actions  o f an immense a n d v a r i e d g r o u p o f p e o p l e  i n h i s chronicle,  t h e r e a r e many c h a r a c t e r s who h a v e no p r o t o t y p e s i n S u t L o v i n g o o d even t h o u g h t h e y may r e s e m b l e authors o r i n c o r p o r a t e elements tesgue  figures  o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s of f r o n t i e r  o f f r o n t i e r humor.  Such g r o -  as I k e , M i n k , Goodyhay and many o f t h e b o u r g e o i s  117  c h a r a c t e r s , such as the M a l l i s o n s and Linda, have few p a r a l l e l s i n H a r r i s ' s work. many of Faulkner's  thematic  Still,  f o r a l l the exceptions,  and s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s do  resemble f i g u r e s i n Sut Lovingood.  II Both authors of  c r e a t e thematic  frontier masculinity.  c h a r a c t e r s who are paragons  Eula's two l o v e r s , Hoake McCarron  and Major De Spain, have a p a r a l l e l Wirt S t a p l e s .  i n Sut Lovingood's f r i e n d ,  McCarron and De Spain both  represent  virility  and m a s c u l i n i t y i n c o n j u n c t i o n with Eula's f e r t i l i t y . ever, they are no more masculine  than Sut's  ally  S h e r i f f Dalton, Wirt S t a p l e s , h i m s e l f married "purty  as a hen canary, * 1  How-  against  t o a woman  (SL 1 5 2 ) who, as Sut d e s c r i b e s him,  might w e l l be Eula's match. [ W i r t ' s ] b r i t c h e s were buttoned t i g h t round h i s l o i n s and s t u f f e d 'bout h a l f i n t o h i s boots. H i s s h i r t bagged out above and were as white as milk; h i s s l e e v e s were r o l l e d up to h i s arm-pits and h i s c o l l a r as wide open as a g a t e . The muscles on h i s arms moved about l i k e r a b b i t s under the s k i n , and onto h i s h i p s and thighs they p l a y e d l i k e the s w e l l on the r i v e r . H i s s k i n were c l e a r r e d and white, and h i s eyes a deep, s p a r k l i n , wicked b l u e , while a smile f l u t t e r e d l i k e a hummin-bird round h i s mouth a l l the w h i l e . When the S t a t e F a i r o f f e r s a premium f o r men l i k e they now does f o r j a c k a s s e s , I means t o enter Wirt S t a p l e s , and I ' l l g i t i t , i f there's f i v e thousand e n t r i e s . (SL 1 4 5 ) No l e s s a c r i t i c  than  that Wirt i s t r u l y  F. 0. Matthieson  s u b s t a n t i a t e s the f a c t  a c h a r a c t e r of immense p r o p o r t i o n s when he  118  says that *»Wirt i s the common man  in his f u l l  common, but as much a '•premium** man who  says, **like a  cattymount  Like a w i l d buck from the woods jumping  the patch fence and already t r a m p l i n g them l o c a l c a r r o t s sguashes... .** (M 1 1 7 ) match f o r E u l a .  Less  1  as Wirt, Hoake McCarron,  e n t e r s Frenchman's Bend, R a t l i f f  i n t o a sheep pen....  stature. *  and  And De Spain i s d e s c r i b e d as being a  While J e f f e r s o n was  not yet against Flem  Snopes nor **in f a v o r of a d u l t e r y , sin,** (T 1 5 ) as C h a r l e s puts i t , they were i n f a v o r of what Gavin c a l l s "the of  simple u n a d u l t e r a t e d u n i n h i b i t e d immortal  which Manfred  and E u l a r e p r e s e n t .  divinity  lust** (T 1 5 )  Besides being **the J e f f e r s o n  R i c h a r d L i o n - h e a r t of the twentieth centiry,** (T 1 3 ) then, Manfred  i s l i k e McCarron and Wirt S t a p l e s i n h i s m a s c u l i n i t y  and v i r i l i t y .  A l l are type c h a r a c t e r s , and, while F a u l k n e r t s  c h a r a c t e r s are gentlemen, i t i s t h e i r v i r i l i t y emphasizes f o r thematic reasons. Wirt S t a p l e s , r e p r e s e n t s almost is  common man,  that  Faulkner  Their possible prototype. a f r o n t i e r d e i t y t o Sut.  w i t t y , happy-go-lucky,  and,  as one  critic  He finds  7  him,  i n every sense  a f r o n t i e r **hero.**  Both McCarron and De Spain meet t h e i r match i n Faulkner's b u c o l i c goddess, E u l a Varner, whose prototype may been H a r r i s ' s S i c i l y  Burns.  w e l l have  In f a c t , Eby notes the same  parallel: E u l a Varner i s not the swooning female of the s e n t i m e n t a l Southern novel...She i s i n s t e a d a raw p h y s i c a l female...The emphasis on c o r p o r e a l substance r a t h e r than e t h e r e a l  119  i n t a n g i b l e s was a l s o c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of desc r i p t i o n s of the female of the e a r l i e r h u m o r i s t s . George W. H a r r i s ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of S i c i l y B u r n s . . . d e l i g h t e d h i s masculine audience.® Sut d e s c r i b e s S i c i l y  as b e i n g " g a l a l l over, from the point  of her t o e - n a i l s t o the end of the longest h a i r on the h i g h e s t knob of her head —  g a l a l l the time, everywhere,  the e x c i t i n g e s t k i n d . " (SL 3&)  and one of  D e s c r i b e d i n v a r i o u s languages,  Eula's " c o r p o r e a l substance" i s s i m i l a r l y e x c i t i n g .  "Her  e n t i r e appearance  suggested some symbology out of the o l d  D i o n y s i c times —  honey i n s u n l i g h t  (H 9 5 )  And,  and b u r s t i n g  grapes...."  "even at ages nine and ten and eleven there  was  too much of b r e a s t , too much of buttock; too much of mammalian meat...." (H 1 0 0 ) Both H a r r i s and Faulkner f i n d these female  caricatures  u s e f u l as o b j e c t s f o r humorous d e s c r i p t i o n , f o r t h e i r to p r e d i c a t e events  ability  (such as "Blown Up With Soda," " S i c i l y  Bums* Wedding," and R a t l i f f ' s damnation of Flem i n The and as f o i l s f o r the male c h a r a c t e r s —  Sut i n H a r r i s ' s work,  and almost every male from C h a r l e s M a l l i s o n to W i l l himself in Faulkner's t r i l o g y .  Indeed,  Hamlet).  Varner  Faulkner's treatment  of E u l a i s f a r more complex both i n terms of the m u l t i f a r i o u s languages used i n connection with her as w e l l as i n terms of thematic development.  From C h a r l e s M a l l i s o n ' s d e s c r i p t i o n ,  "Too much of maybe j u s t g l o r y . . . , " (T 6) to W i l l earthy terminology, "confounded the thought  Varner's  running b i t c h . . . , " (H 1 4 5 ) ,  or the presence of E u l a demands d e s c r i p t i o n s  120  which, besides c h a r a c t e r who is  the  says  fact  revealing Eula's describes her.  t h a t Flem  Faulkner's Hamlet  emphasis  and  Eula  For both and  significance trilogy  who  her. and  Eula in  authors  create  and  thus. S i c i l y  But  does H a r r i s .  of f e r t i l i t y ) ,  Faulkner  Burns,  small  town, F a u l k n e r  As  in  Faulkner's  d a r i n g to b r i n g h i s r u s t i c Helen...and h i s out  Town.  change  differently  plains,  Faustus  i n The  seems  can  countrified  seen  even S i c i l y  obvious  of the b r o o d i n g  immediately  risks  fact,  incarnate)  caricatures "By  be  In  treats his caricatures  P e r h a p s t h e most  of  caricatures  ( p e r s o n a l aggrandizement  (a d e m i g o d d e s s  The  to H a r r i s ' s technigues  exaggeration  t o Flem  somewhat human. than  male i n t h e  the  Flem m a n i f e s t l y l a c k t o t a l p e r s o n a l i t i e s .  comparison  and  about  reveal a close parallel  through  by  one  of t h e m a t i c  c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n s of Flem  characterization.  Eula,  And  i s the  absolutely nothing  character^ reflect  C l e a n t h Brooks  ex-  countryside into trimming  a  them down t o  9 size.™  And  significantly,  aware of t h e h u m a n i t y credibility shifts  and  and  Eula's  and  "Faulkner, shock Gavin  Flem  figures.  f o r thematic and  as  Town t h a t we Thus, p a r t l y  development,  E u l a as human  t r a n s f o r m a t i o n i n The  because here, credible  of b o t h  partly  treats  i t i s i n The  a would-be r e a l  she  a more p u z z l i n g c h a r a c t e r .  Faulkner  very s u c c e s s f u l  i s both  Brooks  [may  have] succeeded  a more  finds  i n h i s a n x i e t y t o have E u l a ' s b e h a v i o r Stevens,  for  beings.  Town i s not person  become  that  baffle  only too w e l l  and and  121  produced a c h a r a c t e r reader t o o . ^ n  her,  she  whose behavior b a f f l e s and  C e r t a i n l y , without the  w e l l as odious.  But  Town.  And  i t i s p r e c i s e l y the  even more e f f e c t i v e l y i n The  Generally,  as Mink's c h a r a c t e r  when we  see  he becomes p i t i f u l  11  as  f l u c t u a t i n g nature  of Faulkner's treatment of Flem that creates Town and  the  aura of goddess about  becomes a l e s s humorous f i g u r e .  Flem as a human being i n The  shocks  tension  in  The  Mansion.  i n The  as Howe puts i t . Mink becomes "a creature  Mansion  (where,  with a k i n d  of  12 bottom-dog d i g n i t y "  ) would i n d i c a t e , Faulkner's  are f a r l e s s laughable than h i s c a r i c a t u r e s . to s h i f t h i s f i g u r e s from c a r i c a t u r e s motivated people r e f l e c t Faulkner and greater  Harris —  But  characters his  ability  to b e l i e v a b l e , humanly  some s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e s between  the most important of which i s Faulkner's  sense of humanity.  To H a r r i s ,  caricature  example, l a z i n e s s figures —  and  caricatures  remains a b s t r a c t i o n s  stinginess. and  But  characters  of,  for  to Faulkner a l l of h i s a l i k e --  are  real  13 people. and  often  t i o n , he  While f o r comic e f f e c t , Faulkner i s r a r e l y more less a r e a l i s t  than H a r r i s , i n matters of  i s i n f i n i t e l y more complex.  For,  characteriza-  viewing h i s  as r e a l people, Faulkner undoubtedly d e l i g h t s  figures  in finding  stan-  dards by which these f i g u r e s seem human, d e l i g h t s i n j u s t such i n c o n g r u i t i e s  as the h a t e f u l , a v a r i c i o u s  Flem Snopes when he ways of banking.  innocence of  r e a l i z e s he must educate himself  But  while, as r e a l people, they add  in  the  meaningful  122  depth  and t e n s i o n to F a u l k n e r ' s t r i l o g y —  a depth  t e n s i o n that Sut Lovingood g e n e r a l l y l a c k s —  and  i t i s in their  r o l e s as c a r i c a t u r e s that Faulkner's thematic f i g u r e s the people we western  laugh at i n the work of H a r r i s and other South-  humorists.  Furthermore,  Flem S n o p e s *  4  type i n Hooper's Simon Suggs. cut  resemble  from the same c l o t h  cribes t h e i r  does have an obvious p r o t o Having s a i d "Flem Snopes i s  as Simon Suggs, ** 1  5  one c r i t i c  des-  similarities:  The unscrupulous r i s e to power of Flem Snopes r e c a l l s the s i m i l a r r i s e of Simon Suggs. Suggs* motto, **it i s good to be s h i f t y i n a new country,** would have served as w e l l f o r Flem. Both men through a smooth even-tempered f a c i l i t y are able toumanipulate the s t r i n g s i n u n s t a b l e s o c i e t i e s where n e i t h e r law nor conscience are s t r o n g curbs (both, i t should be noted, begin as c l e r k s i n g e n e r a l s t o r e s ) . 1 6 But while these are not the only p a r a l l e l s , Simon, m a c h i n e - l i k e and perhaps Faulkner's treatment  f o r Flem  i s , like  pathologically seIf-centered,  of Flem resembles  H a r r i s ' s treatment of  Sut's enemies more than Hooper's treatment  of Simon.  For  Simon i s capable of being humorous h i m s e l f ; Flem i s n o t .  And  Simon Suggs i s a f a r g r e a t e r human b e i n g than Flem i n The Hamlet -- f o r we  see Simon's mind at work whereas we only  see the r e s u l t s of Flera's scheming.  In t h i s , Flem  resembles  the p r o p r i e t o r s , p r e a c h e r s , Yankee r a z o r - g r i n d e r s and that are o b j e c t s of Sut's h a t r e d .  While  there i s no  lawyers single  f i g u r e i n Sut Lovingood that i s Flem's p r o t o t y p e , Faulkner's c a r i c a t u r e does p e r s o n i f y many of the e v i l s that are characteristic  of Sut's enemies, f o r Flem's g u a l i t i e s i n The Hamlet  123 —  h i s avariciousness,  insensitivity —  s t i n g i n e s s , s o b r i e t y , and mechanical  are a l l q u a l i t i e s t o be found i n Sut's  ant agoni st s • Both H a r r i s and Faulkner knew that p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n s must remain at a d i s t a n c e  t o be humorous.  And thus, the  reason that such a c a r i c a t u r e as S t i l l y a r d s a comic type i s that we never r e a l l y  see him as anything  more than a human l i k e n e s s i n t o r t u r o u s of Widow McClowd's mare.  i s a success as  contortions  on top  Faulkner's treatment of the l e s s e r  Snopeses would i n d i c a t e h i s s i m i l a r knowledge of comic  tech-  nique but Flem Snopes i s not r e a l l y humorous; i n f a c t , he i s so much an a b s t r a c t i o n that he l a c k s those rudiments of human nature that  are necessary  and i n f a c t  are the b a s i s of comic  17 characterization.  As a p e r s o n i f i c a t i o n , he can p r e d i c a t e  many humorous s i t u a t i o n s through o t h e r s ' through the v i r t u a l h e l p l e s s n e s s But  Flem, as a l i v i n g being,  r e a c t i o n s t o him and  he i n s t i l l s  does not e x i s t .  i n other  people.  Indeed, the  success of The Hamlet p a r t l y l i e s i n the f a c t that Flem, Eula,  like  i s an a b s t r a c t i o n . Flem's l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e aspects d e r i v e from Faulkner's  distance  from him.  often f i n d ,  In merely attempting t o l o c a t e Flem, we  like Ratliff,  minute t i e , the constant  no more than "the straw bag, the jaw...." (H 151) And as a c a r i c a -  t u r e , Flem i s m a g n i f i c e n t l y  handled.  In f a c t , one way i n  which he becomes l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e i s through the reader's f r u s t r a t i o n at Flem's lack of substance.  Flem has a s o r t  124  of c o l l e c t i v e c h a r a c t e r -- that i s , because he i s not a person and i s the b e l l w e t h e r of the Snopeses, he seems g u i l t y condoning  i f not causing events  of  (such as Lump's peep show)  with which he i s not even connected.  Perhaps I r v i n g Howe  d e s c r i b e s t h i s phenomenon as he e x p l a i n s the s t r u c t u r e of The Hamlet.  He f i n d s that *»the s p i r a l l i n g [of Faulkner's  n a r r a t i v e method and e v e n t s ] , the c i r c l i n g , a l l have a way and f i n a l i t y  of coming back, with a comic exasperation  to the steady growth of Flem's p o w e r . ^  as a s o r t of demi-god of e v i l indeed l a r g e r - t h a n - l i f e , detached  treatment  own  Thus,  and a v a r i c i o u s n e s s , Flem i s  and t h i s through  Faulkner's  extremely  that surpasses H a r r i s ' s p a r a l l e l d i s t a n c e  from h i s c a r i c a t u r e s . the sum  the meandering,  of the t r a i t s  And  Flem might as e a s i l y represent  of Sut's a d v e r s a r i e s as that of h i s  family's t r a i t s . Of l e s s e r importance  thematic c h a r a c t e r s a l l .  individually  are Flem's cousins  —  En masse, they c o n s t i t u t e one of  the most h a t e f u l f a m i l i e s i n the annals of American  literature.  ...The Snopeses are i n v i n c i b l e l i a r s and t h i e v e s because they recognize almost none of the r u l e s of decency or f a i r p l a y . They cheat each other, the Varners, the whole community, even the shrewd R a t l i f f . And they do i t so i m p e r s o n a l l y , imperturbably that t h e i r v i c t i m s are l e f t s t u p e f i e d or i n h e l p l e s s and abject rage. There seems to be no way of stopping them u n t i l , l i k e rodents, they have destroyed or eaten up e v e r y t h i n g i n sight.19 It i s the c r e a t i o n of the Snopes f a m i l y that t e s t i f i e s t r u t h of C u l l e n ' s remark that Faulkner knew "the to be found i n humanity everywhere.... * 1  20  the  cussedness  125  As  a group they represent many of mankind's most d e t e s t -  able v i c e s .  But they r a r e l y embody more than one or  specific evils,  and,  two  thus, they seem at l e a s t somewhat c r e d i b l e  i n an only h a l f - c r e d i b l e f r o n t i e r .  That i s , a Snopes  who  i n h e r i t e d a l l the Snopes's e v i l t r a i t s would m a n i f e s t l y deserve Montgomery Ward's n o t i o n of the i d e a l of every Snopes —  to have "the whole world r e c o g n i z e him  b i t c h * 8 son of a b i t c h .** (M 87) deserve t h i s t i t l e evil  aspects.  as THE  son of a  That none of the Snopeses  i n d i c a t e s the r e l a t i v e nature of t h e i r  Even these l e s s e r Snopeses appear somewhat  human i n c o n t r a s t t o Flem. p a r a l l e l s i n Sut Lovingood.  Many of them have very c l o s e U n l i k e H a r r i s * s v i l l a i n s , how-  ever, they o f t e n have very human weaknesses.  That Faulkner's  f a m i l y c o n t a i n s such anti-Snopes f i g u r e s as Eck and W a l l s t r e e t Panic and such grotesque f i g u r e s as Ike and Mink as i n the other aspects of h i s t r i l o g y , than H a r r i s ' s .  reflects,  a f a r g r e a t e r range  But the p a r a l l e l s i n s p e c i f i c c h a r a c t e r s are  numerous, and Faulkner, while he c r e a t e s a f a m i l y with more v a r i e t y and g r e a t e r d e v i a t i o n s than Sut's enemies, p a r a l l e l s H a r r i s i n technigue and the s p i r i t Both  of c a r i c a t u r e .  authors d e s c r i b e these c a r i c a t u r e s i n terms of  f r o n t i e r animals.  While Sut's passages  of a c t i o n o f t e n  con-  t a i n numerous animal r e f e r e n c e s , Faulkner i s g e n e r a l l y more 2 c o n s i s t e n t i n a s s i g n i n g a n i m a l - l i k e g u a l i t i e s to the  Snopeses.  Greet f i n d s that these g u a l i t i e s " r e v e a l the e s s e n t i a l 22 ness of those to whom they apply.**  vacuous-  Of these, excepting. M...  126  h i s cousin Flem, perhaps Lump i s the most vacuous of the Snopes c l a n .  He  i s very much l i k e the devious, c h e a t i n g  p r o p r i e t o r s i n Sut fawning  Lovingood  and becomes, through h i s  admiration f o r Flem, one of the most h a t e f u l of the  Snopeses as he  looks at the judge "with the l i d l e s s  of a r a t . . . . " (H 329) S t . Elmo Snopes who  Lump h i m s e l f f i n d s the huge omniverous  "appeared  'worse than a r a t . "  to have gone t o sleep chewing  (H 323)  1  Similarly,  Old S k i s s i m ' s middle boy's " e a t i n beat [and h i s f a m i l y ] waked him  i n Sut  Lovingood.  the e a t i n of a r a t . . .  to eat, and then had to wake him  again to make him q u i t e a t i n . " (SL 17-18) who  intensity  But  Stillyards,  "looked l i k e a cross atween a black snake and a fireman's  l a d d e r " (SL 69) liff  i s f a r l e s s dangerous than Mink who,  says, "seems t o be  as Rat-  a d i f f e r e n t k i n d of Snopes l i k e a  cotton-mouth i s a d i f f e r e n t k i n d of snake." (H  92)  F u r t h e r , the s i m i l a r i t i e s between Clarence Snopes  and  H a r r i s ' s c a r i c a t u r e s of Parson John B u l l e n and S h e r i f f are numerous.  Dolton  Faulkner's f i g u r e i s both h y p o c r i t i c a l and  unprincipled p o l i t i c a n .  Clarence's u n p r i n c i p l e d power i s  no more f r i g h t e n i n g than  a s t i c k of dynamite, " j u s t  dont mind a s t i c k of dynamite u n t i l somebody fuses (M 297)  And h i s b r o t h e r , D o r i s , resembles  as you it."  Clarence "not  i n s i z e and shape but [ i n ] the same m e n t a l i t y of a c h i l d the moral p r i n c i p l e s of a wolverine.™ (M 295) Sut's  her he'd  only and  Similarly,  campmeeting g i r l f r i e n d begs B u l l e n "not to t e l l  [But] he et her cookin, he promised  an  on her.  keep dark —  and  127  then went s t r a i g h t his actions: While  and t o l e her man. * 1  And Sut comments on  "Weren't that r e a l low-down wolf-mean?** (SL  82)  other Snopeses, by t h e i r a c t i o n s or c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s ,  are s i m i l a r to H a r r i s ' s  J  and h i s contemporaries*  figures,  these do g i v e an i n d i c a t i o n of the c l o s e p a r a l l e l between Faulkner's and H a r r i s ' s methods of d e a l i n g with caricatures characters.  as w e l l as the manifest s i m i l a r i t i e s T h i s i s not to say that Faulkner  b u i l d s on H a r r i s ' s Aesopian both  thematic  caricatures.  authors* keen s e n s i t i v i t i e s  s i m i l e as a d e s c r i p t i v e t o o l — ner's case, may  in s p e c i f i c  deliberately  Rather,  i t reflects  to the power of f r o n t i e r a s e n s i t i v i t y which, i n Faulk-  w e l l have been engendered by h i s reading of  Harris. Furthermore,  both  authors* f r o n t i e r s m e n embody  t i o n s of f r o n t i e r q u a l i t i e s .  Brom Weber f i n d s that  exaggerafrontier  humorists, . . . g r o s s l y and s a r d o n i c a l l y exaggerate the g u a l i t i e s which enabled a man to triumph over circumstances: coarseness, endurance, d e c i s i o n , b r u t a l i t y , shrewdness, t r i c k i n e s s , speed, s t r e n g t h . Weakness, s e n t i m e n t a l i t y , s t u p i d i t y , r e g r e t , t h o u g h t f u l n e s s , and r e s p e c t a b i l i t y were handicaps f o r s u r v i v a l i n a new country, t h e r e f o r e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of the l u d i c r o u s l y i n e p t and worthy only of contempt and r i d i c u l e . (SL x x i i ) While major c h a r a c t e r s such  as Simon Suggs, Sut Lovingood,  and  25 to some extent V. K. R a t l i f f , gualities,  and Flem Snopes  embody these  Faulkner's minor f r o n t i e r s m e n seem somewhat l e s s  f a n t a s t i c than h i s predecessors* f o r he renders h i s c h a r a c t e r s more r e a l by i n c o r p o r a t i n g w i t h i n a s i n g l e c h a r a c t e r the  128  s t r e n g t h s and the weaknesses of the f r o n t i e r s m a n . c h a r a c t e r i s W i l l Varner. assets of v i r i l i t y  While he has the obvious  and p r a c t i c a l i t y , he i s humorous  One such frontier because  he has no speed or youth. [He] c h e e r f u l l y . . . d e c l i n e d t o accept any such theory as female c h a s t i t y other than as a myth to hoodwink young husbands with..., was engaged i n a l i a i s o n with the...wife of one of h i s own t e n a n t s . He was t o o o l d , he t o l d her b a l d l y and p l a i n l y , t o be t o m c a t t i n g around at n i g h t . . . .  (H 141-142) But the two a u t h o r s ' frontierswomen incongruities.  Their f r o n t i e r attitudes,  present more comic l i k e the f r o n t i e r s -  men's, c o n f l i c t with those p r e v a l e n t i n the r e s t of America; and because  they are women, these c h a r a c t e r s f l o u t  cepts of f e m i n i n i t y  as w e l l .  masculine, both H a r r i s comic  While  f r o n t i e r humor i s normally  and Faulkner are w e l l aware of the  i n c o n g r u i t i e s of the independent  i n s t a n c e , Mrs. H a i t  our con-  frontierswoman.  and Mrs. Yardley s t r o n g l y  resemble  other; and both authors, i n p o r t r a y i n g the independent  For each nature  of these women, emphasize t h e i r masculine outlook and expres-  26 sion.  Another  comic woman i n Sut Lovingood i s the "widder  M c K i l d r i n " whose only daughter has a c h i l d f i v e months a f t e r her marriage.  Perhaps  even more humorous t o the n i n e t e e n t h  century audience than t o more modern s e n s i b i l i t i e s  i s her  duping h e r a s t o n i s h e d son-in-law through a copious  allowance  of " s w e l l - s k u l l " whiskey  and her story of the " r a r e - r i p e  garden-seed's" power on growing  things.  A parallel  deviation  from the typed outrage of the wronged g i r l ' s mother i s Mrs.  129  Varner who, i n her only r e a l appearance r e a c t s to Eula's pregnancy  i n the t r i l o g y ,  and Jody's y e l l i n g with even  more f r o n t i e r i n c o n g r u i t y than Mrs. Yardley when she says, "I'll  f i x both of them.  Turning up pregnant  and y e l l i n g and  c u r s i n g here i n the house when I am t r y i n g to take a nap.™ (H 144) In matters of c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n , then, Faulkner p a r a l l e l s H a r r i s both i n h i s c r e a t i o n of s i m i l a r c h a r a c t e r s and i n h i s methods of c r e a t i o n .  While Faulkner's c h a r a c t e r s perhaps  encompass a wider range between comic c a r i c a t u r e and complex human beings, the t w e n t i e t h century author's g r e a t e r a r t i s t r y i n r e l a t i n g c h a r a c t e r t o c h a r a c t e r makes even the simplest of c a r i c a t u r e s appear somewhat more r e a l than those of H a r r i s . That i s , Flem's inhumanity tends t o make h i s cousins seem more human than they a r e . Only when one c o n s i d e r s that by comparison  t o Flem  and h i s cousins a f i g u r e wuch as W i l l  Varner i n The Ham1et seems a sympathetic human being, does one d i s c o v e r Faulkner's a r t i s t r y  i n c r e a t i n g and s u s t a i n i n g  as immense a group of thematic c h a r a c t e r s as the t r i l o g y cont a i n s .  Ill Much of the humor i n Sut Lovingood d e r i v e s  directly  from H a r r i s ' s s t r u c t u r a l - t h e m a t i c c h a r a c t e r who, because of h i s n a r r a t i o n s , seems a r e a l person.  Faulkner uses a s i m i l a r  130  d ev ic e, but c o n s i s t e n t t o h i s g r e a t e r complexity  and g r e a t e r  a r t i s t r y , he creates not one, but three s t r u c t u r a l  characters,  Gavin Stevens, Charles M a l l i s o n , and V. K. R a t l i f f . and Charles  are indeed  of the bourgeois  the sources,  even the s u b j e c t s of much  humor i n the t r i l o g y .  Significantly,  appear i n The Hamiet because the H e i d e l b u r g c l a s s c h i l d are not i n f a c t very  Gavin  closely  neither  Ph.D. and middle-  connected with the  f r o n t i e r humor of the t r i l o g y . One of the s a l i e n t  aspects  of the b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e i s  that the n a r r a t o r ' s c h a r a c t e r can be r e v e a l e d through h i s language; but, except f o r r e t e l l i n g "what R a t l i f f f o r p r o v i d i n g him with nor Charles tion.  nature  an i n t e r e s t e d audience, n e i t h e r Gavin  are c o n s i s t e n t l y c o l o r f u l i n t h i s f r o n t i e r  But i n c h a r a c t e r i z i n g them through t h e i r  Faulkner  takes  care t o g i v e himself  range.  tradi-  language,  For, i t i s the  of small boys to a s s i m i l a t e o t h e r s ' languages and at  any moment Charles M a l l i s o n may s h i f t  from Gavin's  L a t i n a t e , h e r o i c s t y l e t o R a t l i f f ' s earthy Gavin,  s a i d " and  speech.  f o r a l l his learning, likes R a t l i f f ' s  speech and f i n d s i t u s e f u l i n h i s p o l i t i c a l attorney.  Thus, while Charles does t e l l  romantic, Similarly,  countrified appeal  as county  some episodes, the  f r o n t i e r humor i n them i s n e a r l y always i n someone e l s e ' s language; and Gavin's f l o w i n g v e r b o s i t y may f i n d i t s way i n t o e i t h e r Charles  or V. K. R a t l i f f ' s speech.  three n a r r a t o r s heightens  The use of these  the p o s s i b l e language i n c o n g r u i t i e s  and t h e r e f o r e , u n l i k e H a r r i s ' s p r e s e n t a t i o n of j u s t two  131  realities  (those of Sut  numerous r e a l i t i e s :  and George),  Faulkner presents  " J u s t as,** Faulkner s a i d i n h i s U n i v e r -  s i t y of V i r g i n i a l e c t u r e s , **when you examine a monument you w i l l walk around i t ,  you  are not s a t i s f i e d to look at i t from  27 j u s t one  side.**  Faulkner e x p l a i n e d Gavin Stevens*s being that **of someone who a r t i f i c i a l man been t o l d was  through  p o i n t of view as  had made of h i m s e l f a?>.more or  h i s d e s i r e to p r a c t i c e what he  a good v i r t u e ,  apart from h i s b e l i e f  less  had  in virtues,  what he had been t o l d , t r a i n e d by h i s r e s p e c t f o r education 28 i n the o l d c l a s s i c a l sense.** man.  His learnedness  only by  an i t i n e r a n t  Gavin  i s o b v i o u s l y no  i s perhaps p a r a l l e l e d i n Sut e n c y c l o p e d i a salesman, who,  frontiers-  Lovingood  for correcting  Sut on h i s g u o t a t i o n of the marriage  ceremony, i s answered,  **You go t o h e l l , mistofer,** (SL 1 2 4 )  and r e c e i v e s the f o l l o w i n g  t i r a d e f o r u s i n g the word "repose" f o r "sleep.™ ™5fou must E n g l i s h t o me educated  or not g i t y o u r s e l f understood.  I weren't  at no Injun or n i g g e r s c h o o l . " (SL I 3 6 )  romanticism,  h i s eagerness  talk  to see others i n h i s own  Gavin's image,  and the g u i x o t i c but i n e f f e c t u a l b a t t l e s that rage w i t h i n h i s own  mind separate him  from the t r a d i t i o n a l l y  realistic  approach  common to Faulkner's and H a r r i s ' s p o r t r a i t s of f r o n t i e r s m e n . And  one might hypothesize that Gavin Stevens,  i n the world of  Frenchman's Bend, would be e g u a l l y as welcome as H a r r i s ' s e n c y c l o p e d i a salesman.  While  Gavin's  connection with the best  of Southwestern humor i s somewhat tenuous,  h i s conscious  132  p l a y i n g w i t h words, h i s l i t e r a r y  training  l o v e f o r L a t i n a t e language g i v e s him Baldwin,  and  his  lawyer's  some p a r a l l e l s  whose F l u s h T i m e s i n A l a b a m a r e v e a l s a  to  similar  29 sensibility.  And  both R a t l i f f  and  Faulkner  Gavin's  learnedness  i s a superb f o i l  Charles.  s a i d that Charles's mentality  "was  the  mirror  which o b l i t e r a t e d a l l except t r u t h , because the m i r r o r 30 know t h e  other  factors existed.**  s u r r o u n d e d as he  i s by  Ratliff  appears t o have a d i s t i n c t credible years  and  t h a t G a v i n i s away. a child,  therefore,  as  i s u s e d by  Faulkner  capable,  and  personality.  Charles  should  a prompter f o r the  stories  of f r o n t i e r humor and For  without  of d r o o p i n g of b l a c k  (T 120)  trilogy.  Ratliff Ratliff  during  sleeves  o v e r one  and  Snopesism; Charles  Charles  v e l v e t , and  However, C h a r l e s  is  Ratliff,  u s i n g a few  vivid  instance, his description of t h e most humorous  i n a black a black  side l i k e  the  seem t o  tell,  But  a  When Montgomery Ward r e t u r n e d  e x p l a i n s , "but any  less  presents  s t o r i e s they  didn't  rarely  l e a r n about  t o open h i s "ATELIER MONTY," "he  Charles  out  He  as H a r r i s u s e s G e o r g e .  i m a g e s of h i s own.  images i n t h e  coat  Charles  B o t h G a v i n and  of Montgomery Ward S n o p e s i s one  Jefferson  Gavin,  i f only through h i s c l o s e a s s o c i a t i o n with  of r e t e l l i n g frontier  H o w e v e r , more o r  u s e f u l l i n k b e t w e e n G a v i n and  t h i n k t h a t , as  for  wasn't i n  suit  and  frontier to uniform  a black  over-  t h i n g on h i s h e a d k i n d  an empty cow's b l a d d e r  a l o n g l i m p - e n d e d bow  made  tie...."  i s g e n e r a l l y a s o r t of  innocent  133 nonentity  i n The  Town.  c h a r a c t e r whose y o u t h him  capable  boy  f o r Gavin  to  and  training,  as a  and  a listener and  And  for Ratliff,  at t i m e  structural  at l e a s t i n t h e o r y , make  of a w i d e r a n g e of l a n g u a g e s .  give a balanced  event.  F a u l k n e r u s e s him  he  as an  errand  i s in a position  a p e n e t r a t i n g n a r r a t i o n of  3 1  One  critic  does d e s c r i b e C h a r l e s  as " a p r e c o c i o u s  critic  32 of t h e s o c i e t y  t h a t r e j e c t s E u l a and  t a i n l y , h i s a s i d e s are o f t e n both  a c c e p t s Flem.**-'  truthful  Cer-  and humorous -'- a  s u p e r b l y v i v i d e x a m p l e of w h i c h i s C h a r l e s ' s p a r e n t h e t i c a l c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of Flem: a b i t c h who  had  **...the o l d f i s h - b l o o d e d son  a vocabulary  of two  w o r d s , one  t h e o t h e r F o r e c l o s e . . . . * * (M 215-216) ultimate value  t h i n k , by  the r e a l i s t i c a l l y  Charles uses. as a p e r s o n in  The  flects  a strong personality;  Town a r e p r e d i c a t e d , I  incredible  range of  languages  I f F a u l k n e r u s e s C h a r l e s more as a d e v i c e  i n The  Mansion.  In  o f The  and  However, C h a r l e s ' s  i s t h a t of a v e h i c l e , not  and many of t h e d e f i c i e n c i e s  b e i n g No  of  b o t h The  Town, he m a n i f e s t l y c o r r e c t s t h i s  In t h i s n o v e l C h a r l e s becomes an Town and The  than  defect  individual.  Mansion C h a r l e s ' s growth r e -  t h e p a s s a g e of t i m e ; and b e c a u s e C h a r l e s grows a t  l e a s t t o c h r o n o l o g i c a l m a t u r i t y d u r i n g modern t i m e s , i t i s through  him  that Faulkner  r e v e a l s h i s own  w i t h the y o u t h f u l c r a s s cocksureness bourgeoisie. one  While  of the  contemporary  C h a r l e s ' s s o p h o m o r i c wisdom i s p e r h a p s 33  o f F a u l k n e r ' s most a r t f u l  Charles,  disenchantment  i n d i c t m e n t s ofsimodern  life,  as a r e a l i s t i c human b e i n g , seems l e s s a f i g u r e  of  134 any of the three f r o n t i e r s . American  As a r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of bourgeois  youth, he l a c k s both Gavin's sense of form  R a t l i f f ' s humanity.  and  Both as an innocent c h i l d and as a r a t h e r  crass modern youth, C h a r l e s tends to heighten Gavin's Ratliff's  s t a t u r e as r e a l i s t i c human b e i n g s .  This l a s t Ratliff,  and  s t r u c t u r a l character, Vladimir  i s undoubtedly  Faulkner's g r e a t e s t  Krillytch  achievement  c h a r a c t e r i z i n g a complex human being i n the t r i l o g y .  in Of  3 4  s i g n i f i c a n c e to h i s o r i g i n a l concept of the t r i l o g y both as f r o n t i e r humor and i n terms of c h a r a c t e r i s Faulkner's l e t t e r to [the  Malcolm Cowley. stories  Cowley guotes F a u l k n e r :  " I wrote  them  a f t e r "Spotted Horses," such as "The Hound" and  " L i z a r d s i n Jamshyd's Courtyard™] mainly...because Horses* had c r e a t e d a c h a r a c t e r I f e l l  'Spotted  i n love w i t h :  the  35 itinerant  sewing-machine agent...."^  Lovingood, R a t l i f f perhaps by comparison  Like H a r r i s ' s Sut  seems even more human than he i s  to other c h a r a c t e r s .  As C h a r l e s A l l e n  "Faulkner's most e f f e c t i v e use of f o i l ful  h i g h l i g h t i n g of R a t l i f f ' s humanity.  the  inhumanity  Ratliff's  of everyone  foils."  t a c t i c s i s the  comments, master-  By opposing him to  e l s e . . . F a u l k n e r makes them a l l  And John Arthos e n t h u s i a s t i c a l l y  comments  on the success of t h i s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n : The great achievement of the work i s the c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of R a t l i f f . . , . T h e p i c t u r e of the stooped man i n the blue c o t t o n s h i r t , s i t t i n g on the porch of the s t o r e , w h i t t l i n g , s e e i n g e v e r y t h i n g while appearing t o see n o t h i n g , matching wits with a l l , i s memorable to the p o i n t that i t i s e x a c t l y as i f one saw him t h e r e . For art of t h i s k i n d there can be no u s e f u l comment.37  135 Still,  while Faulkner's  artistry  in portraying R a t l i f f i s  perhaps s u p e r i o r to the a r t i s t r y of H a r r i s ' s p o r t r a i t Sut  and while  Ratliff  i s m a n i f e s t l y a more r e a l i s t i c  more complex human being,  the two  of and  c h a r a c t e r s have much i n  common• To some extent both are typed c h a r a c t e r s . words, t o Faulkner easily  and H a r r i s , R a t l i f f  abstracted p r i n c i p l e s .  In  and Sut  represent  But because these  p r i n c i p l e s of the near f r o n t i e r , the combination p e c u l i a r l y American) of s o c i a l and Ratliff and  and Sut  still  seem human beings.  sent the reader's difficult  Ratliff  Indeed, R a t l i f f  realistic,  and Sut  and Faulkner's  own  Both  Allen  "the whole pantheon of American  e v a l u a t i o n of Sut  about h i m s e l f , d i d the best he  ("He  had  repre-  that i t i s  and p r a c t i c a l  as the reader hopes h i m s e l f to be.  to represent  ideals,  unostentatiously  i d e a l s t o such an extent  are i n t e l l i g e n t ,  the  (perhaps  to think of them as anything but human.  characters precisely  own  are  individualistic  can embody these p r i n c i p l e s  other  no  — finds values,"  illusions  c o u l d ; at c e r t a i n times he  was  a coward and knew i t and wasn't ashamed; he never blamed h i s misfortunes partially  on anyone and never cursed God  r e v e a l s Sut  American v a l u e s . "  f o r them.™^ )  as r e p r e s e n t i n g a s i m i l a r "pantheon of  Of Sut's values, Weber says,  ...out of the seeming chaos and meanness of Sut's p e r s o n a l i t y and a c t i o n s there g r a d u a l l y a r i s e s a s u p e r s t r u c t u r e r e v e a l i n g that a m o r a l i t y and a philosophy have been i n e x i s t e n c e always; t h a t they c o n t a i n , i r o n i c a l l y enough, numerous t r a d i t i o n a l and wholesome v a l u e s . (SL xxv)  136  T h u s , S u t and R a t l i f f  a r e t o some e x t e n t  almost demigods of t h e near As  frontier  contains  gualities. ^  strengths  heightens  by m a k i n g h i m f a l l i b l e disillusionment,  frontiersman.  His  In accord with h i s p r e d i l e c t i o n t o  4  Faulkner  —  t o some d e g r e e a l l o f Weber's p o s i t i v e  incorporate frontier ters,  characters  frontier.  such, Sut Lovingood i s a t o t a l  character  typed  and w e a k n e s s e s i n h i s c h a r a c -  t h e r e a l i s m and h u m a n i t y o f R a t l i f f and human i n h i s l a p s e s  and b i t t e r  with the hamlet's t o t a l  into dejection,  i r o n y when, f o r i n s t a n c e ,  l a c k o f m e a n i n g f u l a c t i o n , he  "What i s i t t h e f e l l o w s a y s ?  o f f with  exasperated says,  t h e o l d and on w i t h  t h e new; t h e o l d j o b a t t h e o l d s t a n d , maybe a new f e l l o w doing  t h e j o b b i n g b u t i t ' s t h e same o l d s t e r n g e t t i n g reamed  out?"  (H 1 6 4 )  not  immune t o s i c k n e s s To  in  A n d p e r h a p s even t h e f a c t  4 1  a great  a very  extent  furthers h i s ties Sut i s s i m i l a r l y  human way, b u t R a t l i f f ' s  farumore s u c c e s s f u l than S u t ' s .  has  a b e t t e r sense of R a t l i f f  gradation  sense d e r i v e s of f o i l s  and  humorous, R a t l i f f ' s  stroke that best l i k e Sut,  Ratliff  emotional  C e r t a i n l y , the reader  more s u c c e s s f u l  that R a t l i f f , u n l i k e Sut,  h i s own s t o r i e s ,  f u r t h e r e n h a n c e d by t h e g r e a t e r i r o n i c while Sut's defeat  and  as a man t h a n he does o f S u t .  and t h e f a c t  And  humanity.  fallible  from F a u l k n e r ' s  does n o t c o n s t a n t l y t e l l is  with  humanity i s f a r g r e a t e r  and  While t h i s  that R a t l i f f i s  Ratliff's truth  character  of h i s f a i l u r e .  i n " B l o w n up w i t h Soda™ i s s h o r t - l i v e d defeat  vivifies  at Flem's hands i s perhaps t h e  Ratliff  must l i v e  with  i n the t r i l o g y  because, un-  i t throughout the t r i l o g y  137  and  i t i s a l o s s o f more i m p o r t a n c e t h a n S u t ' s  puppy l o v e .  That R a t l i f f  in the b a t t l e  representative  against Snopesism suggests t h e grave i m p l i c a -  t i o n s of h i s d e f e a t . protagonist  i s r a t i o n a l man's  unrequited  W h i l e Eby f i n d s t h a t »the  [ i n The H a m l e t 1 i s n o t R a t l i f f ,  real  F l e m o r any o t h e r  human c h a r a c t e r b u t F r e n c h m a n ' s B e n d i t s e l f , * * fall  tends t o l i n k him with  Hamlet.  Longley says:  Place episode  t h e most human c h a r a c t e r s  with  Moreover, R a t l i f f ' s  t h e p a t t e r n of t h e  e x a c t l y t h e same k i n d o f rationality  i n the face  a h e r o i c f i g u r e and r e f l e c t s  artistic  i n f u s i n g the admirable  o f man w i t h h i s i n h e r e n t  weaknesses.  statement...made i n 'Spotted p r o u d and f i e r c e l y  sardonic  prevail. * ^ 1  greater This  indeed  and e v i l . * *  4 5  t h r o u g h The Town and The Man-  i s certainly  a f i g u r e of  human s i g n i f i c a n c e t h a n S u t L o v i n g o o d .  i s not t o say t h a t R a t l i f f  i s not a S u t - l i k e  rather i t i s t o assert R a t l i f f ' s manifest  success  o f g r e a t e r m a g n i t u d e t h a n does S u t .  h o w e v e r , i n a c t i o n and a t t i t u d e s , r e f l e c t s Faulkner's  —  s u g g e s t s t h a t "man n o t m e r e l y e n d u r e s ; he w i l l  literary,  a moral t r u t h  **the  compassionately  addiction to f r a i l t y  I n t h i s way, R a t l i f f  4  A l l e n finds that  c o n v i c t i o n t h a t man e n d u r e s  persistent rationality  sion certainly  Faulkner's  e n d u r a n c e and p a t i e n c e  Horses* i s the  even i n s p i t e o f h i s s t u b b o r n Ratliff's  4 4  temptation.**  of h i s defeat  makes h i m t r u l y genius  o f The  "The m a j o r i r o n y o f t h e F r e n c h m a n ' s  i s that i tp r e c i s e l y repeats  spotted horses,  Ratliff's  acguaintance  with Sut Lovingood.  character; i n representing Ratliff,  the intimacy of  138  Sut and R a t l i f f actively fight  are both a c t i v e f r o n t i e r s m e n .  Both  i n j u s t i c e and have a s i m i l a r awareness of  f o r c e s l a r g e r than themselves.  T h e i r acts of  retribution  on such f i g u r e s as John B u l l e n and Clarence Snopes r e v e a l the two r a c o n t e u r s * s i m i l a r clearheadedness — p e n e t r a t e the t i t l e s  of "Reverend**  f r o n t i e r s m e n , Sut and R a t l i f f  minds which  and "Senator.**  are p r a c t i c a l and  As  rational.  Of the two, Sut i s o b v i o u s l y f a r more a c t i v e and much l e s s realistic, directly  i f more c o n s i s t e n t l y humorous.  reveal his f r o n t i e r morality.  war on c h e a t s .  Sut*s  actions  He t i r e l e s s l y wages  The b a t t l e s he f i g h t s almost always  result  i n p h y s i c a l a c t i o n , although often h i s i m a g i n a t i v e and p s y c h o l o g i c a l t a c t i c s p r e d i c a t e t h i s a c t i o n and h i s long legs d e l i v e r him safe from harm at p r e c i s e l y the d i s t a n c e r e q u i r e d to v i v i d l y  recount that a c t i o n .  In h i s d e c i s i v e ,  i m a g i n a t i v e r e t r i b u t i o n s , Sut Lovingood i s a c h a r a c t e r of heroic proportions.  But, as A l l e n remarks,  " R a t l i f f ' s measure  of heroism can be gauged not so much by h i s p a r t i c u l a r as by h i s u n o s t e n t a t i o u s m o r a l i t y . for...the morality  actions  By i m p l i c a t i o n he stands  and t r u t h and j u s t i c e of Gavin S t e v e n s . "  But R a t l i f f ' s m o t i v a t i o n f o r choosing h i s p a r t i c u l a r m o r a l i t y i s more akin to Sut Lovingood*s a man cality  than Gavin Stevens.  of the near f r o n t i e r , has an aura of masculine about him.  In f a c t ,  i n the " P r e f a c e " to Sut  Sut, as practiLovingood,  speaking about those readers whose concern f o r t h e i r r e p u t a t i o n s w i l l motivate them t o read the work s e c r e t l y , Sut i s  139  g u i d e d by h i s p r a c t i c a l of  sense.  He  speaks  of the  attempting t o reason w i t h these people.  He  futility  says:  They h a s been p r e a c h e d t o and p r a y e d f o r now n i g h o n t o two t h o u s a n d y e a r s , and I won't d a r t weeds where t h i r t y - t w o p o u n d s h o t b o u n c e s b a c k . (SL x x x i i ) 4 S Thus, Sut g e n e r a l l y  f o l l o w s what m i g h t  h a v e b e e n t h e maxim  of  J a c k s o n i a n d e m o c r a c y , a " l i v e and  he  e n c o u n t e r s t h o s e g r o s s and w r a n k l i n g i n j u s t i c e s  fights  so  l e t live * morality  from  b e c a u s e -There one  was  simple i n s t i n c t , from — for a practical  less  frontier.  them. no  And  one  9  more t h a n  their  better.  i l l u s i o n s about  lies  t o t h a t of  to  Gavin  are r e a l i s t i c a l l y  s t a b i l i t y necessary t o the  similar,  reader trusts  that,  Certainly, Ratliff's  i n comparison  i s t h e most i m p o r t a n t  The  well,  T h u s , b o t h R a t l i f f and S u t  m o t i v a t e d f o r the s o c i a l  frontier  he  "practiced  confusion i f a l l people d i d n ' t t e l l  is a practical  Stevens's.  Town,  r e a s o n , b e c a u s e i t was  a n o t h e r , and d i d n ' t p r e t e n d . " ^  morality  that  ardently.  F a u l k n e r s a y s t h a t R a t l i f f , i n The virtue  until  1  r e a l i s t i c views  near  of t h e  fantastic  aspect of our b e l i e v i n g i n  R a t l i f f because he,  h i m s e l f , " and few,  i f any  l i k e Sut,  "had  illusions  about  others. No trust.  s m a l l p a r t of t h e i r  comic  effect  d e r i v e s from  I t i s t o a g r e a t e x t e n t the s o u r c e of our  from the comic  a c t i o n of t h e i r  narrations,  f o r our  detachment feeling  s a f e w i t h them, and even f o r ( i n R a t l i f f ' s c a s e ) o u r detachment from  a l l the o t h e r f r o n t i e r  figures  this  i n the  relative trilogy.  140  As raconteurs  (or, as I c a l l them e a r l i e r ,  characters), R a t l i f f  and Sut  f r o n t i e r humor i n the two teurs cannot  structural  are the major source of the  works.  be over-emphasized.  T h e i r importance  as  The b o x - l i k e s t r u c t u r e  used by H a r r i s and Faulkner i s a sword with a double The  story-teller  Thus,  c h a r a c t e r s are g e n e r a l l y c o n s i s t e n t to t h e i r  suggests H a r r i s ' s and Faulkner's superb device.  edge.  i s only as s u c c e s s f u l as h i s s t o r y , because  the s t o r y r e f l e c t s the c h a r a c t e r of the r a c o n t e u r . that both  racon-  Moreover, i t i m p l i e s the two  artistry  stories  in using this  authors* s t e a d f a s t views  of these c h a r a c t e r s . Because they are r a c o n t e u r s , Sut and R a t l i f f to the reader than the thematic c h a r a c t e r s .  are  Ratliff,  closer as  Faulkner's most able raconteur of f r o n t i e r humor and most consistently  sympathetic  counterpart i n Sut.  f i g u r e i n the t r i l o g y ,  F a u l k n e r ' s sense  then, has  of c r e d i b i l i t y ^ 5  and  h i s earnest d e s i r e to w r i t e a ••chronicle" and not merely collection Ratliff i  n  a  a  of humorous s t o r i e s s u b s t a n t i a t e s the f a c t that  i s l e s s prominent i n The Town and The Mansion than  The Hamlet.  That the reader awaits R a t l i f f ' s  shrewd  e v a l u a t i o n of events even i n the l a t e r novels where he appears  only o c c a s i o n a l l y i n d i c a t e s the extent to which  a l i g n o u r s e l v e s with h i s r a t i o n a l i t y .  Sut's n a r r a t i v e s  prove him to be e q u a l l y r a t i o n a l , i f more The  cardinal parallel  appeal i s t h e i r e x p r e s s i o n .  i n the two  we  exuberant.  raconteurs' s i m i l a r  John J . H e f l i n f i n d s  "Sut,  h i m s e l f , i s very prominent as the t e l l e r of the s t o r y , h i s  H i  manner i m m e n s e l y i m p o r t a n t . " manner of [ R a t l i f f ' s ] his  r e p o r t s and  Ratliff's  and S u t ' s  gence such  as S u t ' s  they  and  are not  Ratliff's  are l i k e  y a r n - s p i n n e r s , who,  5  And,  Ratliff  spirit  optimistic  social.  The  both  —  poetic.  intelli-  Sut  perhaps  i f not  indigenous  spirit. (as  Faulkner earthy,  However s i m i l a r  and  their  simultaneously individual  nomadic m i s c h i e f - m a k e r  similar  the s t o r y  the  ™underscore[d]  and t h e  itinerant  and  sewing  at h i s b e s t .  f a n c i f u l d e s c r i p t i o n s of h i s h e r o i c deeds  to t e l l  and  o u t l o o k r e p r e s e n t s t h a t of a y o u n g  frontiersman —  Ratliff's  into  as r a c o n t e u r s  m a c h i n e s a l e s m a n e p i t o m i z e t h e common man Sut's  find  the m a s c u l i n e ,  o f f r o n t i e r humor. their  their  a generally u n i n t e l l i -  resembles  realistic  traits,  To  a d e s i r e which,  H a r r i s ) i n the s p i r i t  individual  on  And  resembles  —  that  s t u p i d enough t o s l i p  undeniably American i n  ultimately,  of  and h e r o i c , " (SL x x i i i )  gratifies  i s one  to  g i v e s them v a l u e . "  Weber s a y s , c o n s i s t e n t l y  of w h i c h  Americans,  lends  t h e i r h i s t o r i c a l predecessors,  t h e p r o x i m i t y of t h e h o m e l y the f u s i o n  "The  T h e i r appeal d e r i v e s from the f a c t  a p h o r i s m s of an I . 0. S n o p e s .  c h a r a c t e r s , they  says,  s p e e c h makes them seem at once  gent f r o n t i e r i s a r e v e l a t i o n .  tion  Greet  a r e n o t p o e t i c enough t o r u i n t h e i l l u s i o n  the g r a t i n g  and  Y.  s p e e c h as much as i t s m a t t e r  frontier  c o u n t r y h e r i t a g e and  to  T.  comments t h e v e r a c i t y w h i c h  b u m p k i n s and p o e t s . they  And  l a n g u a g e and h i s a d m i t t e d  of E u l a and M c C a r r o n n o t  are predilec-  as he  thinks  53 it  o c c u r r e d , but  tiates  their  as he p r e f e r s i t t o h a v e h a p p e n e d ,  similarities  as r a c o n t e u r s .  J  substan-  142  Perhaps  the g r e a t e s t  raconteurs l i e s of  them.  s i m i l a r i t y between t h e s e  two  i n the reader's i n s t a n t a n e o u s acceptance  F o r t h e i r s e n s e o f humor, t h e i r  s e n s e of  irony,  and t h e r e a d e r ' s s e n s e o f t h e i r h o n e s t y and i n t e g r i t y a l l conduce  to their  similar  s u c c e s s as r a c o n t e u r s .  a p p e a l as c h a r a c t e r s They, t h e m s e l v e s , are  But t h e memorable p o r t r a i t s Lovingood, " r e s t i n g invitingly at (SL  full 104)  by  of t h e two  a fine  Ratliff,  inimitable. Sut  c o o l s p r i n g at noon, w i t h  at the  h i s "bland affable  gourd,"  ready f a c e  and h i s n e a t t i e l e s s b l u e s h i r t one  of the s g u a t t i n g  at  r e m i n d us of t h e i r  a crossroads store..."  ship i n s p i r i t .  Sut  (H 13)  —  L o v i n g o o d and V. K.  s u b s t a n t i a t e De V o t e ' s g e n e r a l i z a t i o n : one...who r e a d s A m e r i c a n universally every  a story  respect a r t i s t i c a l l y  narrations, h i s character,  5 4  Lovingood —  frontier  "To  group kin-  vivify  and  the eyes of  any-  American i s  And w h i l e F a u l k n e r i s i n  superior to Harris,  in Ratliff's  t h e p e o p l e , t h e l a n d , and t h e  l a n g u a g e do become t h e s t o r i e s Sut  Ratliff  literature,...the  teller."  an  over the water,...  on t h e g r a s s l o o k i n g i n t e n t l y  and V. K.  their  raconteurs —  c l e a n g o u r d h a n g i n g on a bush  length  and  as i n t h e most p r i s t i n e  humor.  --  143  FOOTNOTES:  CHAPTER V  A l l a r d y c e N i c o l l f i n d s t h a t most c o m i c w r i t e r s " w i l l t r y t o suggest that a c e r t a i n f i g u r e i s i t s e l f r e p r e s e n t a t i v e of a c l a s s . The f u n d a m e n t a l a s s u m p t i o n o f comedy i s t h a t i t does n o t d e a l w i t h i s o l a t e d i n d i v i d u a l i t i e s . * * (Allardyce N i c o l l , An I n t r o d u c t i o n t o D r a m a t i c T h e o r y ( L o n d o n , 1923), P. 134.)  2  H e c t o r S t . J o h n De C r e v e c o e u r , "What i s an American,™ L e t t e r s From an A m e r i c a n F a r m e r ( L o n d o n , 1951)/ PP- 39-68. S e e C h a p t e r I V , p . 81 o f t h i s t h e s i s . That T e x a s i n p a r t i c u l a r a t t r a c t e d t h e most d e s p e r a t e men i n t h e c o u n t r y was a common n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y m y t h . 3  ^ B a c k u s , C h a r l e s s a y s , w o u l d be " . . . s i t t i n g a l l day l o n g o u t t h e r e on t h a t f r o n t g a l l e r y w i t h a g l a s s o f w h i s k e y a n d - w a t e r i n one h a n d a n d H o r a c e o r V i r g i l i n t h e o t h e r — a c o m b i n a t i o n which U n c l e Gavin s a i d would have i n s u l a t e d from t h e r e a l i t y of r u r a l n o r t h M i s s i s s i p p i h a r d e r heads t h a n h i s — ..." (T 178)  5  The t e r m t h e m a t i c c h a r a c t e r i n d i c a t e s a c h a r a c t e r who e m b o d i e s t h e m a t i c e l e m e n t s , b u t i s n o t a r a c o n t e u r . Two examples a r e Flem and E u l a . A structural character, l i k e R a t l i f f , i s a r a c o n t e u r a n d may a l s o embody t h e m a t i c e l e m e n t s o r , l i k e s u c h a c h a r a c t e r as o l d H e t , he may be p u r e l y s t r u c tural. The r e a d e r l e a r n s a b o u t t h e m a t i c c h a r a c t e r s by what t h e y do a n d t h u s , w h e t h e r n a r r a t e d by s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s o r an o m n i s c i e n t n a r r a t o r , t h e i r p o r t r a i t s a r e c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y objective or i n the t h i r d person. S t r u c t u r a l characters may o r may n o t be p o r t r a y e d by o t h e r n a r r a t o r s * comments, b u t these s t r u c t u r a l c h a r a c t e r s r e v e a l themselves through t h e i r own n a r r a t i v e s a n d t h u s a r e p r e s e n t e d s u b j e c t i v e l y o r i n t h e f i r s t person. ^F. 0 . M a t t h i e s s e n , American R e n a i s s a n c e : A r t and E x p r e s s i o n i n t h e Age o f Emerson a n d W h i t m a n ( N e w Y o r k , I 9 6 0 ) , p. 643. 7  Ibid.,  p . 643.  8  E b y , p p . 18-19.  9 7  B r o o k s , p . 193. I b i d . , p p . 211-212.  H4  See C h a p t e r 17, p p . 262-295 o f The Town w h e r e , p e r h a p s i r o n i c a l l y , i t i s G a v i n S t e v e n s , one o f t h e most a r d e n t a n t i S n o p e s f i g u r e s , who r e c o n s t r u c t s F l e m ' s a c t i v i t i e s as v i c e p r e s i d e n t o f t h e bank. Here, Flem's i n n o c e n c e and l a c k of e d u c a t i o n makes h i m a t l e a s t a somewhat s y m p a t h e t i c u n d e r d o g . 12  H o w e , p . 112.  13 ^ A s k e d i f he t h o u g h t o f t h e c h a r a c t e r s " . . . i n The Town as p e o p l e a n d n o t as s y m b o l s , " F a u l k n e r a n s w e r e d , " Y e s . Y e s ; , t o me t h e y a r e p e o p l e . . . . " (Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y , p. 108.) And i n r e f e r e n c e t o the Snopeses: "Those c h a r a c t e r s t o me a r e q u i t e r e a l a n d q u i t e c o n s t a n t . " ( i b i d . . p . 7 8 . ) T h r o u g h o u t t h i s d i s c u s s i o n ( p p . 122-125 o f t h i s t h e s i s ) I r e f e r t o Flem Snopes, t h e c a r i c a t u r e and f i g u r e of S o u t h w e s t e r n humor, as h e i s p r e s e n t e d i n The H a m l e t . 1 / f  1 5  E b y , p . 14.  ^Ibid.,  p.  18.  17 See F o o t n o t e 1 o f t h i s c h a p t e r . F l e m , b e c a u s e he i s a f r o n t i e r d e i t y i n The H a m l e t , becomes an " i s o l a t e d " i n d i viduality. 18  H o w e , p . 245•  W i l l i a m Van O'Connor, The T a n g l e d F i r e F a u l k n e r ( M i n n e a p o l i s , 1954), P« 1 1 8 . 1 9  2 0  Cullen,  of W i l l i a m  p . 117.  21 C a m p b e l l a n d F o s t e r ' s " r o l l c a l l , " a l t h o u g h n o t a comone, s e r v e s t o v a l i d a t e F a u l k n e r ' s c o n s i s t e n c y : 1. F l e m S n o p e s ( f r o g l i k e ) 2. I . 0. S n o p e s , t h e p l a t i t u d i n a r i a n ( w e a s e l ) 3. L a n c e l o t (Lump) S n o p e s ( r a t l i k e ) 4. I k e H. S n o p e s , t h e i d i o t ( b o v i n e ) 5. "Mink™ S n o p e s , t h e m u r d e r e r 6. S t . Elmo S n o p e s -- o m n i v o r o u s , h u g e , f l e s h y , beast l i k e ( C a m p b e l l and F o s t e r , p p . IO4-IO5.)  plete  22  T. Y. G r e e t , "The Theme a n d S t r u c t u r e o f F a u l k n e r ' s The H a m l e t . " i n W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : T h r e e D e c a d e s o f C r i t i c i s m , p . 336. 23 -'See C h a p t e r I V , p . 107 o f t h i s t h e s i s . E c k ' s comment on t h e q u a l i t y o f f o o d i n F l e m ' s r e s t a u r a n t r e v e a l s h i m t o be more l i k e S u t t h a n any o f t h e S n o p e s e s .  145 2L.  Ab d o e s , i n h i s i n n o c e n t , s t u p i d g r e e d a n d b r a v a d o , h a v e many p a r a l l e l s w i t h L o n g s t r e e t ' s " B l o s s o m , ™ who c l a i m s t o be " a l e e t l e . jist a leetle. o f t h e b e s t man a t a h o r s e swap t h a t e v e r t r o d s h o e l e a t h e r . * (Georgia Scenes, p. 23.) Ab s i m i l a r l y t e l l s h i s w i f e , "You b e t t e r thank the Lord that when He g i v e me a e y e f o r h o r s e f l e s h He g i v e me a l i t t l e judgment and gumption with i t . " (H 3 l ) 1  25 F a u l k n e r once c o r r e l a t e d t h e s c o u n d r e l t o the i n d i v i d u a l . He s a i d , " . . . a s c o u n d r e l , t o b e a g o o d o n e , m u s t b e an i n d i v i d u a l i s t , t h a t o n l y an i n d i v i d u a l i s t c a n b e a f i r s t rate scoundrel." F a u l k n e r then a d m i t t e d ( i n the words of a q u e s t i o n e r ) t o h a v e " s o m e g r u d g i n g a d m i r a t i o n f o r F l e m S n o p e s , who p r e t t y w e l l s t i c k s t o h i s c h a r a c t e r , " ( i n F a u l k n e r ' s words) "...until h e was b i t t e n b y t h e b u g t o b e r e s p e c t a b l e , a n d t h e n h e l e t me down.™ ( F a u l k n e r i n the U n i v e r s i t y , p . 33•)  26  Examples of t h e i r m a s c u l i n e language appear i n Chapter III, p p . 62-63 ° f t h i s t h e s i s . In f a c t , t h e i n d e p e n d e n t woman of t h e f r o n t i e r h a s l o n g been a s o u r c e of comedy. The i n d e pendent M r s . H a i t has a manifest p a r a l l e l i n L o n g s t r e e t ' s woman i n " T a k i n g t h e C e n s u s ™ who b r i n g s h e r c h i c k e n s i n t h e h o u s e f o r the "chicken-man™ to see. Other such independent Southern women i n F a u l k n e r ' s c a n o n a r e J e n n y D u P r e , R o s a M i l l a r d a n d even E m i l y G r i e r s o n .  27 'Faulkner 2  8  Ibid..  p.  i n the U n i v e r s i t y ,  pp.  I39-I4O.  140.  29 Both Gavin and Baldwin c o n s c i o u s l y toy with language and, t o modern t a s t e s , a r e s t u f f i l y erudite. S e e T 43 a n d C h a p t e r I I , p . 17 o f t h i s thesis.  30  Faulkner  i n the U n i v e r s i t y ,  p.  I4O.  31 •* R e f e r t o C h a p t e r I I I , p . 43 o f t h i s t h e s i s where C h a r l e s f i n d s G a v i n t o be " c r a n k - s i d e d . ™ Further, Charles s a y s o f G a v i n ' s p r a i s e f o r t h e l a d i e s who c a l l e d o n M r s . S n o p e s , " I t w o u l d be t h e most o u t r a g e o u s p r a i s e , praise s o o u t r a g e o u s t h a t e v e n Gowan a t j u s t t h i r t e e n y e a r s o l d could t e l l that." ( T 31) V i c k e r y , p . I83. 3 2  33 - ^ C h a r l e s ' imagined wire to R a t l i f f magnificently r e flects this youth's self-infatuation and narrow v i s i o n . The l a n g u a g e i s p e c u l i a r l y modern b u t p e r h a p s t h e tone of c o c k s u r e n e s s i s common t o o v e r c o n f i d e n t y o u t h i n g e n e r a l . Charles thinks: " A r e they [ G a v i n and L i n d a ] bedded f o r m a l l y y e t o r not? I mean is. i t r o s a y e t o r s t i l l j u s t s u b , a s s u m i n g t h a t y o u a s s u m e t h e same a s s u m p t i o n t h e y t e a c h u s u p h e r e a t H a r v a r d t h a t once y o u g e t t h e c l o t h e B o f f t h o s e t a l l u p - a n d - d o w n women y o u f i n d o u t t h e y a i n t a l l t h a t u p - a n d - d o w n a t a l l . " (M 205)  146  One o f t h e most f l a g r a n t m i s r e a d i n g s o f F a u l k n e r i s c o m m i t t e d by I r v i n g Howe, u s u a l l y a s o u n d a n d c a r e f u l c r i t i c , when he comments on t h i s p a s s a g e . Howe s a y s , " N o t h i n g i n the t e x t , s o f a r as I c a n s e e , p r o v i d e s any g r o u n d f o r s u p p o s i n g t h a t F a u l k n e r t a k e s a c a u s t i c view of t h i s sophomoric wisdom, o r t h a t he w i s h e s us t o s e e M a l l i s o n i n any b u t a sympathetic l i g h t . " (Howe, p . 2 8 8 . ) F a u l k n e r * s c r i t i c s a r e u n i f i e d on a t l e a s t one a s p e c t of h i s t r i l o g y — t h e s u c c e s s o f R a t l i f f as a c h a r a c t e r . W h i l e many o f t h e c r i t i c a l comments a b o u t h i m r e f e r t o R a t l i f f i n The H a m l e t , t h e y h a v e an e q u a l r e l e v a n c e t o h i m t h r o u g h o u t the t r i l o g y . A l t h o u g h he i s l e s s p r o m i n e n t i n The Town and The M a n s i o n . R a t l i f f i s a c o n s i s t e n t c h a r a c t e r i n t h e t r i l o g y . 3 4  35 ^ C o w l e y , p . 366. F a u l k n e r ' s p r e d i l e c t i o n t o t h i n k i n terms of c h a r a c t e r i s s u b s t a n t i a t e d a g a i n : "My book [ p e r h a p s S a n c t u a r y o r The U n v a n g u i s h e d l h a d c r e a t e d S n o p e s a n d h i s c l a n , who p r o d u c e d s t o r i e s i n t h e i r s a g a w h i c h a r e t o f a l l in l a t e r volumes." C h a r l e s A l l e n , " W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : Comedy a n d t h e P u r p o s e o f Humor." A r i z o n a Q u a r t e r l y . X V I (i960), 67. A l t h o u g h Mr. A l l e n r e f e r s s p e c i f i c a l l y t o The H a m l e t . I t h i n k h i s s t a t e m e n t a p p l i e s t o R a t l i f f i n t h e whole t r i l o g y , p a r t i c u l a r l y i n a s t u d y w h i c h f o c u s e s on t h e f r o n t i e r humor o f the trilogy. 3 6  37  ^ J o h n A r t h o s , " R i t u a l and Humor i n t h e W r i t i n g s o f W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r , A c c e n t . I X (Autumn, 194&), 27. He a l s o notes t h e r e l a t i o n s h i p of R a t l i f f t o F a u l k n e r ' s o t h e r c h a r a c t e r s , In The H a m l e t , " f o r t h e f i r s t t i m e [ i n a n o v e l ] F a u l k n e r s e t s up a r a t i o n a l man as t h e c e n t r a l f i g u r e i n a s t o r y . The g a i n i s e n o r m o u s , c o n s i d e r i n g t h e c h a r a c t e r s and p i c t u r e s h a v e l o s t n e i t h e r i n t e n s i t y or v i v i d n e s s . " ( A r t h o s , p . 27.) 3 8  Allen,  p . 65-  S t e i n , p . 79Without committing the l o g i c a l e r r o r of a s s e r t i n g t h e i r a b s o l u t e s i m i l a r i t y , I t h i n k i t i s i n t e r e s t i n g t o note t h a t F a u l k n e r ' s c h a r a c t e r i z a t i o n of S u t applies egually well t o R a t l i f f . 3 9  4  ° S e e C h a p t e r V, p . 127 o f t h i s  thesis.  * R a t l i f f * s b i t t e r d i a t r i b e against Snopesism i n c l u d e s h i s s a t i r i c u s e o f a p h o r i s m s , I . 0. S n o p e s ' s p r o m i n e n t t r a i t . But t h e v i l l a g e r s * bewilderment at R a t l i f f ' s b i t t e r n e s s e m p h a s i z e s b o t h h i s h u m a n i t y and h i s n o r m a l l y s t e a d y a f f a bility. " B i g e a r s have l i t t l e p i t c h e r s , t h e w o r l d b e a t s a t r a c k t o t h e r i c h man's h o g - p e n b u t i t a i n ' t e v e r y f a m i l y 4  147  has a new lawyer, not to mention a prophet. Waste not want not, except that a f u l l waist dont need no prophet t o prophesy a p r o f i t and j u s t whose. * Now they were a l l watching him — the smooth, impenetrable face with something about the eyes and the l i n e s beside the mouth which they c o u l d not r e a d . " (H I 6 4 ) 1  4 2  E b y , p.  20.  4 3  L o n g l e y , p.  74«  ^ ^ R a t l i f f acknowledges h i s defeat through u n d e r s t a t e ment, a commonplace of f r o n t i e r humor. "Bet you one of them I beat you [ B o o k w r i g h t ] . " (H 366) Longley p r a i s e s Faulkner's a r t i s t r y i n t h i s passage. " I t i s easy to imagine what might f o l l o w t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n i n the hands of a l e s s g i f t e d w r i t e r : d e s p a i r , rage, c r i e s of anguish. In Faulkner's hands the r e a c t i o n i s reduced t o simple comment." (Longley, p. 76.) F u r t h e r , R a t l i f f ' s r e a c t i o n heightens r a t h e r than subdues the t e n s i o n of the c l o s i n g pages of The Hamlet. 4 5  Allen,  p.  67.  ^ W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r , "Stockholm Address," i n W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : Three Decades of C r i t i c i s m , p. 3 4 8 . 4 7  Allen,  p.  64.  LB  Sut's answer t o those who "have a wholesome f e a r of the d e v i l , " and thus w i l l f i n d Sut's s t o r i e s improper i s both p r a c t i c a l and sane: " . . . i f you i s f e a r e d of smut, you needn't climb the chimney." (SL x x x i i ) I  Q  Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y , p.  140.  50 V i c k e r y f i n d s that The Town l a c k s the economic d i r e c t ness of The Hamlet; t h e r e f o r e (because J e f f e r s o n o f f e r s him no medium i n which t o b a t t l e the Snopes) R a t l i f f becomes a r e p o r t e r i n the two l a t e r novels of the t r i l o g y . (See V i c k e r y , p. I 8 3 . ) ^ J o h n J . H e f l i n , J r . , George Washington H a r r i s ("Sut Lovingood"): A B i o g r a p h i c a l and C r i t i c a l Study. V a n d e r b i l t U n i v e r s i t y Masters T h e s i s ( N a s h v i l l e , 1934)/ P- 53. 1  5 2  G r e e t , p.  335-  53 •'See The Mansion, p. 119 f f . Through h i s n a r r a t i v e R a t l i f f comments that he i s t e l l i n g the s t o r y as he t h i n k s i t should have taken p l a c e . For example, a f t e r g i v i n g a g e n e r a l and a b b r e v i a t e d account, R a t l i f f comments, "Except I dont think that was e x a c t l y i t . I dont think I p r e f e r i t  148  to happened that way, I t h i n k I p r e f e r i t to happened a l l at once." (M 119) **My conjecture i s j e s t as good as yourn, maybe b e t t e r s i n c e I m a i n t e r e s t e d p a r t y , being as I got what the f e l l e r c a l l s a theorem to prove.* (M 122) T  De Voto, p. 92.  149  BIBLIOGRAPHY Works by F a u l k n e r : Faulkner, William. New Y o r k , 1950.  Collected Stories  .  The H a m l e t .  .  The M a n s i o n .  .  Mosquitoes.  of W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r .  New Y o r k ?  Vintage E d i t i o n .  New Y o r k ,  1959.  New Y o r k ; D e l l ,  1962.  '. The P o r t a b l e F a u l k n e r , e d i t e d w i t h r',-duct i o n by M a l c o l m C o w l e y . New Y o r k , 1946. .  The R e i v e r s .  New Y o r k ,  intro-  1962.  . "Stockholm Address," W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : Three Decades o f C r i t i c i s m , e d s . F r e d e r i c k J . Hoffman and O l g a W. V i c k e r y . New Y o r k , 1963. .  The Town.  Works o f S o u t h w e s t e r n  New Y o r k : V i n t a g e E d i t i o n ,  1961.  Humor:  B a l d w i n , J o s e p h G. The F l u s h T i m e s o f A l a b a m a and M i s s i s s i p p i : A S e r i e s o f S k e t c h e s . New Y o r k , 1854. B l a i r , Walter, ed. " I n t r o d u c t i o n . " N a t i v e American San F r a n c i s c o , I960. B o a t r i g h t , Mody C , e d . the American F r o n t i e r .  "Introduction." Folk New Y o r k , 1949.  Humor.  L a u g h t e r on  H a r r i s , George W a s h i n g t o n . S u t L o v i n g o o d . e d i t e d w i t h an i n t r o d u c t i o n by Brora Weber. New Y o r k , 1954« Harris McClary.  1962-1963-  . The L o v i n g o o d P a p e r s , e d . Ben Knoxville: U n i v e r s i t y of Tennessee P r e s s ,  [Hooper, Johnson J o n e s ] . A d v e n t u r e s of C a p t a i n Simon Suggs. Late of the T a l l a p o o s a V o l u n t e e r s ; t o g e t h e r w i t h "Taking the Census." and o t h e r Alabama S k e t c h e s . Philadelphia,  I848.  [ L o n g s t r e e t , Augustus  1897.  Baldwin].  Georgia Scenes.  New Y o r k ,  150  Meine, F r a n k l i n Y o r k , 1930.  J . , ed.  T a l l T a l e s of t h e Southwest.  New  T h o r p e , Thomas B a n g s . " B i g B e a r o f A r k a n s a s , " T a l l T a l e s o f the Southwest, ed. F r a n k l i n J . Meine. New Y o r k , 1930, p p . 9-[21]. Watterson, Henry, ed. L i f e and C h a r a c t e r . Secondary  " I n t r o d u c t i o n . " O d d i t i e s of Southern New Y o r k , 1882.  Works:  A l l e n , C h a r l e s A. " W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : Comedy and t h e P u r p o s e of Humor," A r i z o n a Q u a r t e r l y . X V I (i960), 59-69. A r t h o s , John.  "Ritual  and Humor i n t h e W r i t i n g s of. W i l l i a m  F a u l k n e r . " A c c e n t . I X (Autumn,  1948), 17-30.  Brooks, Cleanth, W i l l i a m Faulkner: County.. New H a v e n , 1963. C a m p b e l l , H a r r y and R u e l F o s t e r , Appraisal. Norman: U n i v e r s i t y C a s h , W. J .  William Faulkner: A C r i t i c a l o f Oklahoma P r e s s , 1951.  The M i n d o f t h e S o u t h .  Cohen, H e n n i g . "Mark T w a i n ' s P a p e r s (1962), [19]-24-  The Y o k n a p a t a w p h a  New Y o r k ,  1961.  S u t Lovingood,™ The L o v i n g o o d  Collins, Carvel. " F a u l k n e r and C e r t a i n E a r l i e r S o u t h e r n F i c t i o n . " C o l l e g e E n g l i s h . X V I (November, 1954), 92-97. C u l l e n , J o h n B., i n c o l l a b o r a t i o n w i t h F l o y d W a t k i n s . O l d Times i n t h e F a u l k n e r C o u n t r y . C h a p e l H i l l : University of N o r t h C a r o l i n a P r e s s , 1961. De C r e v e c o e u r , H e c t o r S t . J o h n . Farmer. L o n d o n , 1951. De V o t o , B e r n a r d . Eby,  Cecil  D.  Mark T w a i n ' s  L e t t e r s f r o m an A m e r i c a n America.  New Y o r k ,  1933.  "Faulkner a n d C e r t a i n E a r l i e r Southern  Sh en an do ah'.. X I (1959), 13"21.  Fiction,"  G a l b r a i t h , Margaret E d i t h . Faulkner's Trilogy: T e c h n i q u e as A p p r o a c h t o Theme. V a n c o u v e r : U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columb i a M a s t e r s T h e s i s , 1962. G r e e t , T. Y. "The Theme and S t r u c t u r e o f F a u l k n e r ' s The H a m l e t . " W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : T h r e e Decades o f C r i t i c i s m , e d s . F r e d e r i c k J . . H o f f m a n and O l g a W. V i c k e r y . New Y o r k ,  1963, P P . 330-347..  151  Gwynn, F r e d e r i c k L. and J o s e p h L. B l o t n e r , e d s . Faulkner i n the U n i v e r s i t y : C l a s s C o n f e r e n c e s at the U n i v e r s i t y of Virginia 1957-1958. Charlottesville: U n i v e r s i t y of V i r g i n i a Press, 1959. H e f l i n , J o h n J . , J r . G e o r g e W a s h i n g t o n H a r r i s ("Sut L o v i n g o o d * ) : A B i o g r a p h i c a l and C r i t i c a l S t u d y . N a s h v i l l e : Vanderbilt U n i v e r s i t y M a s t e r s T h e s i s , 1934* 1  Hoffman, F r e d e r i c k Faulkner: Three Howe, I r v i n g .  J . and O l g a W. V i c k e r y , e d s . William D e c a d e s of C r i t i c i s m . New Y o r k , I963.  William Faulkner:  A C r i t i c a l Study.  New  York,  1962.  L o n g l e y , J o h n L e w i s , J r . The T r a g i c Mask: A S t u d y o f Faulkner*s Heroes. Chapel H i l l : U n i v e r s i t y of N o r t h Carolina Press, 1963. Matthiessen, i n t h e Age  F. 0 . A m e r i c a n R e n a i s s a n c e : A r t and o f Emerson and W h i t m a n. New Y o r k , I 9  Mcllwaine, S h i e l d s . The S o u t h e r n P o o r W h i t e . v e r s i t y of O k l a h o m a P r e s s , 1 9 3 9 Mencken, H.  L.  The  Nicoll, Allardyce. London, 1923.  American An  Language.  Introduction  New  Expression 6 0 .  'Norman:  York,  to Dramatic  Uni-  1937-  Theory.  0»Conner, W i l l i a m V a n . T a n g l e d F i r e of W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r . Minneapdlis: U n i v e r s i t y o f M i n n e s o t a P r e s s , 1954* Pattee, 1870.  Fred New  Lewis. A History York, 1 9 1 5 -  of American  Robb, Mary C o o p e r . William Faulkner: C o n t r i b u t i o n t o the American Novel. s i t y of P i t t s b u r g h P r e s s , 1 9 6 3 . Rourke, Constance. A m e r i c a n Humor: Character. New Y o r k , 1 9 5 3 . American S c h o l a r .  Literature  Since  An E s t i m a t e o f h i s Pittsburgh: UniverA Study  of t h e  " E x a m i n i n g the Roots of American IV ( S p r i n g , 1 9 3 5 ) , 2 4 9 - 2 5 4 -  National Humor,"  S t e i n , Jean. "William Faulkner: An I n t e r v i e w . " W i l l i a m Faulkner: Three Decades of C r i t i c i s m , eds. F r e d e r i c k J . H o f f m a n and O l g a W. V i c k e r y . New Y o r k , 1 9 6 3 , p p . 6 7 82.  152  Thompson, Lawrance. W i l l i a m F a u l k n e r : and I n t e r p r e t a t i o n . New York, 1963.  An  Introduction  V i c k e r y , Olga. The Novels of W i l l i a m Faulkner: A C r i t i c a l I n t e r p r e t a t i o n . Baton Rouge: L o u i s i a n a U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1959-  State  

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