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A southern code of injustice in William Faulkner's south

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A southern code of injustice in William Faulkner's south
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Faulkner, Jonathan James
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vi, 76 leaves : ; 28 cm

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Justice in literature ( lcsh )
Justice in literature ( fast )
Literature ( fast )
In literature -- Southern States ( lcsh )
Southern States ( fast )
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Criticism, interpretation, etc. ( fast )
bibliography ( marcgt )
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 74-76).
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Department of English
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by Jonathan James Faulkner.

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University of Colorado Denver
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Full Text
A SOUTHERN CODE OF INJUSTICE
IN WILLIAM FAULKNER'S SOUTH
by
Jonathan James Faulkner
B.A., University of Colorado, 2002
J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2009
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
English


by Jonathan James Faulkner
All rights reserved.


This thesis for the Master of Arts
degree by
Jonathan James Faulkner
has been approved by

Date


Faulkner, Jonathan J (MA, English Literature)
A Southern Code of Injustice in William Faulkner's South
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Colleen Donnelly
ABSTRACT
This thesis examines the way William Faulkner imbued his novels with the
recurring theme of a southern code and demonstrated the destructive force of its
racism and classism by way of lynch mobs and extra-judicial vigilante killings.
By examining the novels Sanctuary, Light in August, and Intruder in the Dust, I
probe how Faulkner elucidates the southern code by demonstrating the way it
subjugates black minorities and poor lower-class whites, operates to bring about
their extra-judicial destruction, and trumps legislative law resulting in flagrant
injustice and tragedy. The time period studied in this thesis is primarily the late
nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, and the location is the
American South. Data have been collected from academic journals, books, and
from Faulkners novels. By looking into the unique history of the South, I
investigate how a hierarchical system of community values was bom out of the
institution of slavery. While these values were neither ratified by state legislatures
nor codified in any statutes, they were promulgated throughout southern
communities as a means to maintain white power structures long after the
Emancipation Proclamation. Being beyond the reach of the codified law, the
southern code was enforced by vigilante lynch mobs who reacted against a
perceived threat to the southern hierarchical order. I investigate how Faulkners
characters lived by this southern code and how the author employed the code to
demonstrate its tragic consequences. Additionally, this thesis examines how
Faulkner believed his literature might lead to social change, and how this theme
pertains to his optimistic hope for the Souths future race and class relations.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidates thesis.
recommend its publication.
Signed
Colleen Donnelly


DEDICATION
I dedicate this thesis to my parents, who were never too busy or tired to
help their sons with their myriad school projects and homework
assignments (and made sure they finished them), and whose patience and
fortitude in encouraging the learning of their children nurtured a genuine
respect for knowledgea gift that I cannot possibly value in words. Thank
you, Mom and Dad, you continually inspire me to earn the honor of my
name.


ACKNOWLEDGMENT
My thanks to my advisor, Colleen Donnelly, for her contribution, support,
and patience as 1 developed the ideas and research behind this thesis. I also
wish to thank all the members of my committee for their valuable
participation and insights.


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER
1. INTRODUCTION......................1
2. ANALYSIS OF THE TEXT.............16
WORKS CITED..............................74
vi


CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
When William Faulkner was a ten year old boy, a black man
named Nelse Patton was lynched in Faulkner's hometown of Oxford,
Mississippi. A young William Faulkner very likely witnessed the
lynching, as his childhood home was merely blocks from the Oxford jail
(Sassoubre, Ticien Marie, Criticism, 184). One can only imagine the
impression such a horrific scene might leave on a young boy, as well as
his thoughts on what could possibly motivate this action. What young
Faulkner likely could not determine at the time was that the lynching of
Nelse Patton was not authorized by any codified law. Rather, this lynching
was the result of a well developed system of unwritten regional values
which incited the local people. The community based system of values
which the lynch mob organized around is an ideology unique to the South,
and I will hereafter refer to this structure of beliefs as the southern code.
Rooted in the institution of slavery, the southern code is an unwritten
ideology which operates to maintain white power structures while
subjugating black minorities and lower-class whites. Undoubtedly a


product of his own southern upbringing, Faulkner set his characters within
his created southern county of Yoknapatawpha where they are trapped
within the southern codes racist and classist social mores. With his novels
Sanctuary' (1931), Light in August (1932), and Intruder in the Dust (1948),
Faulkner elucidates the southern code by demonstrating the way it
subjugates blacks and poor whites, operates to bring about their extra-
judicial destruction, and trumps legislative law resulting in flagrant
injustice and tragedy.
While it is difficult to pinpoint the place in time at which a
particular ideology first arises, we can be certain that the southern code
existed in southern society during the entirety of William Faulkners
lifetime (1897 1962). The southern code necessarily relies on
distinguishing between different groups of people and separating them
into different classes, and this distinction certainly existed in the South
from the earliest days of the slave trade. By most accounts, the first major
establishments of African slavery in the South occurred in the middle of
the seventeenth century. One objective indicator which can be used to
measure the duration of the southern code is the existence of organized
groups that espoused substantially similar tenets to the southern code such
as the Ku Klux Klan. Founded on the notion of white supremacy,
membership in the Klan first began in the South in 1865. Though the
2


organization does not have the same level of support it did in its heyday
(the organization claiming between 4 and 5 million men as members in the
mid 1920s), it continues to exist to this day.
The southern code finds its genesis in the institution of slavery.
The antebellum South was a predominantly agrarian society, and it
depended on slave labor to harvest and maintain the vast tracts of property
held by white landowners. As one group of people enslaved another, the
lower group was necessarily forced to occupy a subservient position of
social class. The ruling slave owners, perched at the top of this hierarchy,
were empowered to organize society and its social rules. Proper decorum
under these social rules mandated that black slaves act subservient to all
whites. In this way, the institution of slavery developed into a cast system
which lingered even after emancipation.
This classist society which existed well before the Emancipation
Proclamation was based on more than just racism. Powerful white
landowners and their families who owned vast tracts of land worked by
scores of slaves occupied a higher class in society than those owners who
could afford fewer slaves and less land. Thus, a social gulf grew between
those who could afford a great number of slaves and those poor whites
that could not, and this resulted in the poor whites also being slotted into a
lower class in the social hierarchy. This lower class of whites, composed
3


of those who had to perform their own labor, were slotted below rich
upper-class whites in the social hierarchy. Black slaves, of course, were
owned property, and occupied the lowest rung of the class ladder below all
whites. With emancipation and the subsequent collapse of the Souths
agrarian economy, both blacks as well as a growing class of poor whites
(who joined free blacks in laboring for rich white owners for
compensation), would continue to be slotted in this particular class system.
Peavy observes, A peculiar aspect of the institution of slavery in the
South was that it developed the idea of class and caste among the slaves
and a corresponding resentment among the non-slave holding poor
whites( Peavy, Charles D., Go Slow Now: Faulkner and the Race
Question, 18). This class system is a key component of the southern code.
Under its influence blacks and poor whites were subjugated by the
powerful white elite at the top of the hierarchy.
The hierarchical system of the southern code led to a society in
which acceptance of the inferior social position of the Negro as well as
poor whites was generally understood and accepted. Notably, the tenets
embodied in the southern code were not passed by the legislature and were
not written down in state statutes: the southern code was not a codified
system of laws. Rather, this southern code was transmitted and
promulgated orally. It was latent in conversations people had in town, and
4


was observed in the way whites and blacks were expected to behave and
be treated. Blacks and lower-class whites (given the demeaning title of
white trash) were expected to be subservient, and were thought of as
simple and childish, while upper-class whites were dignified and proper.
Due in part to the fact that the southern code was not written down, it
became an ideology unique to the South and its peculiar history, distinct
and separate from other geographic locations and times. Due to its racist
and classist nature, the southern code served to advance injustice and
resulted in the subversion of federal and state law. The southern code is
separate and distinguished from the codified law which is written,
authoritative, and applicable not only to a distinct southern community,
but to the diverse nation or state as a whole. Before we further investigate
the distinction between the southern code and the codified law, we must
first discuss the existence and purpose of state and federal law.
As the grandson, nephew, and older brother of a lawyer, William
Faulkner well understood the importance of federal and state law in a
society. With his upbringing, Faulkner not only came of age in a regional
society that exalted the legal vocation, but was remarkably sensitive to
the role played by the law in the articulation of that society's norms,
codes, and boundaries(Watson, Jay, Forensic Fictions, 6). As a resident
of Mississippi, Faulkner undoubtedly understood that official Mississippi
5


laws came from two authoritative sources: the federal government and the
state legislature. The United States Constitution, which is the prevailing
law of the land, guarantees to all American peopleincluding alleged
criminalsthe rights contained in the Sixth Amendment. These rights
include the right of accused criminals to a speedy and public trial, by an
impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been
committed, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation;
to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have assistance of
counsel for his defense. Further, the Supreme Court applied the
protections of this amendment to the states through the Due Process
Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits state and local
governments from depriving persons of life, liberty, or property without
certain steps being taken to ensure fairness.
For matters pertaining to the state, rather than the Federal
Government, the criminal laws of the state are applicable. The criminal
laws for the state of Mississippi are contained in a digest of statutes that
define conduct that is prohibited by the state because it is held to threaten,
harm, or endanger the safety and welfare of the public. Criminal law is
enforced by the state, and it contains punishments to be imposed on those
who break the laws. The laws themselves are determined by legislators,
6


who are democratically elected by the people who reside in the state and
appropriate jurisdiction. These legislators work together to draft and
amend laws. Once the legislature detennines laws, they are codified and
published to the public such that all people may be on notice of the
applicable laws. In this way the laws are authoritative, applicable to all
people within the jurisdiction.
Mississippis first book of statutes was published in 1799, and was
declared to be the law of Mississippi Territory by Winthrop Sargent,
who at the time was Governor of the Territory. The 1799 Mississippi Code
was subsequently amended when Mississippi was granted statehood
(1817), and was then redrafted numerous times as Mississippi continually
updated its statutes. In fact, the present Mississippi Code Annotated
(1972), which contains the statutes that are used in Mississippi today, is
the seventeenth official Mississippi Code.
The US Constitution and the Mississippi code do not have separate
provisions for race or class, and are meant to apply equally to all citizens,
regardless of their particular race, class, or gender. These codified laws
were not good enough for those wishing to preserve the racist and classist
ideals of southern society. Thus, emboldened by a community w hich
tacitly accepted the southern code, men acted in defiance of the law to
enforce the southern code in their society. This defiance of the law only
7


became stronger after the South suffered a crushing defeat in the Civil
War and was forced to accept and recognize the Thirteenth Amendment
(which officially abolished slavery) as a condition of reentry into the
Union. Arguably, this Amendment legally sanctioned the destruction of
the Souths plantation economy because it freed the slave labor
Southerners depended upon. Howe points out succinctly that the social
hierarchy of southern society became threatened as the agrarian economy
was being pierced by salients of industrial urbanism, the most prominent
threats being the sudden absence of cheap labor to work the land and the
burning of much of the fertile crop land by the North (Howe, Irving,
William Faulkner, A Critical Study, 11-12).
In response to the agricultural depression that threatened the
Souths hierarchy of white land owners and dependent black labor, the
institution of sharecropping arose which reproduced the traditional
southern racial hierarchy in the form of dependent black labor bound to
specific plots of white-owned land(Sassoubre, 188). Additionally, Jim
Crow laws were created which preserved the social hierarchy while
realigning official law and southern custom through the legal
enforcement of segregation in public spaces, employment, housing, and
the systematic disenfranchisement of blacks through poll taxes, property
requirements, and literacy tests(Woodward, C. Vann, Origins of the New
8


South, 1877-1913, 71). Southern legislators who were, frightened by the
prospect of New negroes who didnt stay in their place, found a security
in Jim Crow laws which ensure[d] social, political, and economical
subordination of blacks in every facet of daily life(Donaldson, Susan V.,
Faulkners Inheritance: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 107). These laws
effectively maintained the hierarchy already established within the
community by mandating de jure racial segregation in all public facilities.
This inevitably led to facilities for blacks that were inferior to those
provided for whites.
When the Federal Government overturned Jim Crow laws with the
Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which outlawed major forms of discrimination
against blacks) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which outlawed
discriminatory voting policies), the South understood that if the racist and
classist mores of southern code were to be maintained, it would have to be
enforced outside of the law. Southerners who observed the structures of
the southern code could not rely on the law to achieve the justice they
desired, and so the men in a community organized into groups with the
purpose of executing their own vigilante justice. Vigilantes thus took it
upon themselves to enforce the southern code which would subjugate
black people and white trash back to the bottom of the social ladder where
the southern code deemed they belonged. The southern code was
9


maintained and enforced by vigilantes most noticeably through the terror
of mob lynching. Tolnay and Beck note, historically, southern racial and
economic order had been expressed through the culture of lynching, which
effectively intimidated black labor and reinforced the power and status of
white owners(Tolnay, Stewart E, and E.M. Beck, A Festival of Violence:
An Analysis of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930, 19). There are different
theories regarding the primary motivation behind a lynching. For example,
Ronald Baker observes:
In oral legends, as well as in written literature and
ritualized violence, the primary motivation for the lynching
of a black man is the alleged rape of a white woman or
violation of some social taboo concerning the relations of a
black man and white woman, and the emotional stimulation
of the lynching mob is the protection of white
womanhood(Baker,Ronald L., Fabula, 318).
Baker fails to note, however, that there is more to the phenomena of
lynching than simply protecting white women and property. In the South,
lynching was deeply tied to the maintenance of a racial hierarchy and
control of black labor(Tolnay and Beck, 18). In fact, a lynching is the
racially and classist motivated extra-judicial destruction of another person.
It is not codified in the law and is thus never officially sanctioned by the
government. Most frequently, lynchings were perfonned by the method of
hanging, but it was also common to burn victims doused in gasoline.
Lynchings w ere public, perfonned by white members of the community,
10


and were intended to serve as a visual lesson and warning to others,
especially blacks, who might push against the white power structure. In
this way, the spectacle of lynching publicly resolved any race, gender, and
class ambiguities by brutally conjuring a collective, all powerful
whiteness(Hale, Grace Elizabeth, Making Whiteness: The Culture of
Segregation in the South, 1890-1940, 203). Lynching thus became a
visible expression of defiance of the law and the persistent existence of the
wrath of the southern code.
The violence of lynching carried out by vigilantes was further
justified in part by what was perceived to be a growing threat to law and
order by a new Negro, who, once free of the fetters of slavery, would
regress to a natural state of savagery and bestiality. This threat was
exacerbated by a growing number of alleged sexual assaults on white
women perpetrated by black men. Williamson describes how, the single
most significant and awful manifestation of black retrogression was a
[perceived] increasing frequency of sexual assaults on white women...by
black men(Williamson, Joel, A Rage for Order: Black/White Relations in
the American South Since Emancipation, 71). This myth was broadcast by
popular and professional sources. Phillip Alexander Bruce, editor of the
prestigious Virginia journal of history, published an article in the New
York Evening Post in which he noted, there is something strangely


alluring and seductive to them [blacks] in the appearance of a white
woman ... it moves them [blacks] to gratify their lust at any cost and in
spite of every obstacle(Williamson, Rage, 88). The widespread
dissemination of this myth served to embolden vigilantes while justifying
their enforcement of the southern code.
Another expert oft quoted was a statistician for the Prudential
Insurance Company of America named Frederick L. Hoffman. When the
respected American Economic Association published his study, Race
Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro, in 1896, the public read
how during slavery, the negro committed fewer crimes than the white
man, and only on rare occasions was he guilty of the more atrocious
crimes, such as rape and murder of white females) Williamson, Rage, 89).
Yet Hoffman then asserted that in the 1890s crime was increasing at an
alarming rate, and so he reasoned, the rate of increase in lynching may be
accepted as representing fairly the increasing tendency of colored men to
commit this most frightful of all crimes [rape](Williamson, Rage, 89).
Due to the widespread dissemination of the writings of popular
critics such as Bruce and Hoffman, racist radicalism was mainstream in
the south by the turn of the twentieth century, and the lynching of black
men by white Southerners occurred at an alarming rate. Few studies have
been attempted to measure the rate of occurrence of lynchings in the
12


South. In one, Trudier Harris notes that between 1882 and 1927, an
estimated 4,951 persons were lynched, and of that number, 3513 were
black(Harris, Trudier, Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Literary
Lynching and Burning Rituals, 7). In a separate study, Frank Shay listed
5,112 victims of lynching from 1882 through 1937, more than four-fifths
of whom were black (Klotman, Phyllis R, Black American Literature
Forum, 55). The violence carried out by vigilantes also received support
from the community as represented by elected officials. In Mississippi, for
example, extra-judicial violence was supported by the state's elected
Governor from 1904 1908, James K. Vardaman, who argued that blacks
were increasingly criminal and blamed this increase on the aspirations of
blacks to social equality (Williamson, Faulkner, 157). With this perceived
support from the community, offered as opinions by different writers in
the media as well as through the words of public officials, vigilantes were
steadfast in defying the law to enforce the southern code.
This thesis aims to probe the way Faulkner imbued his novels with
the recurring theme of a southern code and demonstrated the destructive
force of its racism and classism by way of lynch mobs and extra-judicial
vigilante killings. Alwyn Bemland notes how Faulkner evaluated human
behavior by continually examining the codes by which his characters live.
He observes how one of Faulkners recurring themes is that human
13


beings must live by some codesome value system or structure of
belief'(Berland, Alwyn, Light in August. A Study in Black and White, 83).
By conducting a close reading of Faulkners texts against the southern
code, 1 will investigate how Faulkners characters lived by a southern
code, and how the author employed the code to demonstrate its tragic
consequences. Additionally, this analysis will investigate why Faulkner
wrote about the southern code, how he believed his literature might lead to
social change, and how this theme pertains to his optimistic hope for the
Souths future race and class relations.
Faulkner reveals the southern code saliently in Sanctuary, Light in
August, and Intruder in the Dust, and he elucidates the code and presents a
portrait of its flaws by way of complex and nuanced characters.
Additionally, the logic behind the ritualized reassertion of the southern
code through violence is a recurring theme. Faulkner first draws attention
to the southern code by portraying its destruction of a poor white man
without effective legal recourse in Sanctuary. Lee Goodwin, a white trash
character of low social class, is killed in a bon-fire by a mob of vigilantes
who believe he raped a young upper-class white debutante. Then, with
Light in August, published one year later, Faulkner describes the southern
code's seemingly fated annihilation of Joe Christmas, a lower-class drifter
who is rumored to have been fathered by a black man. After he allegedly
14


sleeps with and murders a white woman, this black man is shot and
killed by a racist vigilante. Finally, Faulkner offers a very different story
of the southern code w ith Intruder in the Dust, published a full sixteen
years after Sanctuary, in which Lucas Beauchamp, a black man, is hunted
by an extra-judicial mob which seeks to lynch him for allegedly murdering
a white man. Remarkably, Mr. Beauchamp achieves freedom despite the
southern code. While Faulkner identifies the southern code and portrays it
as prevalent, powerful, and even fated in his earlier novels, the author
suggests with his later-written novel, Intruder in the Dust, an opportunity
to rise above and move beyond the southern code. The South, Faulkner
believed, must act on its own accord to address the pervasive wrath of the
southern code. Before we discuss Faulkners vision for the way the South
may accomplish this, however, let us first observe the southern code in
action and the way it poisons Faulkners southern world.
15


CHAPTER 2
ANALYSIS OF THE TEXT
Sanctuary
Sanctuaiy opens with a traveler, Horace Benbow, as he wanders
along dusty southern roads into Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. Over
the course of the novel, he will journey across the Souths social and legal
landscape in a quest for justice. Horace is not just any traveler, he is an
educated, passionate man who was raised in Yoknapatawpha by an upper-
class family of respectability. Though he was bom in the city of Jefferson,
he moved out of the city to live with his wife and her daughter. Horace is a
lawyer, and he ascribes to the belief that the fairness and power of law w ill
triumph over the southern code. Horace sees the law as a solution and
means of delivering justice, a belief which is demonstrated in his posed
solution to the problem of drunken philandering. Holding the belief that
law's will move people to behave in accordance w ith virtue and decency,
Horace rationalizes that in an ideal society he could, have a law passed
making it obligatory upon everyone to shoot any man less than fifty years
16


old that makes, buys, sells or thinks whisky(Faulkner, William,
Sanctuaiy, 166)[hereafter, Sanctuaiy], As Horace discovers, the injustice
of the southern code proves to be most formidable.
As a lawyer, a professional who inhabits the upper class in society,
Horace Benbow has potential for promoting justice and morality, based on
the law, upon the landscape of Yoknapatawpha. Yet it is evident early on
that Horace perceives justice differently than the other characters he
encounters in Yoknapatawpha. Horace takes up the defense of alleged
murderer Lee Goodwin, a lower-class white man, whom the people of
Yoknapatawpha are prepared to lynch without a trial. Other characters in
the county, being under the influence of the southern code, do not adhere
to the rule of law (including due process and constitutional rights for all
people) that this attorney embraces, and Horace becomes the target of
considerable backlash for his unpopular support of white trash Goodwin.
Beleaguered by citizens of Yoknapatawpha (and his sister, most saliently),
Horace exclaims, cant you see that perhaps a man might do something
just because he knew it was right, necessary to the harmony of things that
it be done?"(Sanctuan\ 275). He is met with a response from characters
firmly entrenched in the southern code, who merely shake their heads and
respond, hes crazy, and cant help but comment, [t]he fool...the poor
fool '(Sanctuaiy, 15, 16).
17


What makes Horace so crazy," according to his peers, is that his
defense of lower-class Lee Goodwin runs directly contrary to the mores of
the southern code. White trash do not deserve due process of law, and
Horace is thought a fool for wasting his time on Goodwin's defense.
What's even more outlandish is the fact that Horace believes he may
exculpate his client. Even Lee Goodwin, his client, believes he is doomed
regardless of any legal defense Horace might provide him. A poor
bootlegger who lives in a house described as a gutted ruin rising gaunt
and stark out of a grove of unpruned cedar trees "(Sanctuary, 8), Goodwin
understands the grim fate reserved for such a man of low status in the
southern code. When asked what he wants with a lawyer, Goodwin
responds, "just promise to get [my] kid a good newspaper grift when lies
big enough to make change"(Sanctuaiy, 116).
Undeterred, Horace remains steadfast in his faith injustice which
will be obtained under Mississippi law. Horace roots his belief in the legal
system in his spiritual faith: God is foolish at times, he admits, but at
least He's a gentleman(5a/7c/n£jn', 280). Still, events in Yoknapatawpha
seem to surprise Horace in their degree of decrepit immorality. Temple
Drake was not just given a lift to town "{Sanctuary, 160) as Horace had
assumed when she disappeared with the older man named Popeye; rather,
she was sexually assaulted, kidnapped, and imprisoned by him in a
18


Memphis brothel. Horace is further shocked to realize that Ruby Lemar,
Goodwin's wife, believes she will pay Horace for his legal services with
sex, a form of currency she has used before. Horaces bewildered surprise
at Rubys offer of her body for legal service is indicative of his flawed
presumptions about the institution of law and its promises of equality,
equity, and a chance at justice(Lahey, Michael, Womens Studies, 523).
Confused by the fact that Horace looks perplexed, Ruby tells the man, I
thought that was what you meant(S<3/7cri/£/n, 275), which prompts
Horace to whisper, Good God...w'hat kind of men have you
knownT\Sanctuarv, 276). Horace glimpses the moral depravity and
injustice latent in the southern code that is swarming in Yoknapatawpha,
but it is still darker and more pervasive than he could imagine.
Goodwins murder trial offers precisely the opportunity Horace
seeks to justify once and for all the potential of the law to triumph over the
southern code and uphold justice. If no other place, Horace believes, truth
and justice must be upheld in a court of law. He tells Ruby on the eve of
the trial, my soul has served an apprenticeship that has lasted for forty-
three yeavs"(Sanctuary, 280). Now, after forty-three years of life, Horace
believes he has the dignified role of securing legal justice for his w hite
trash client, even despite the southern code. Horace fully expects to
demonstrate for the court and the entire county how justice, impartial and
19


fair, will be the end result when the system of law is allowed to run its due
course.
A trial lawyer has the responsibility of using witnesses and
evidence to persuade a jury to side with his client. In Sanctuary,
Goodwins acquittal rests on the ability of his trial attorney, Mr. Benbow,
to persuade the jury of Goodwins innocence by recreating for them the
sequence of events that led to Tommys murder. Benbow must then
provide an alibi for Goodwin which removes him from culpability for the
murder. Horace has only one witness, but it is a good one: Ruby was
present at the murder scene the entire evening leading up to the morning
on which Tommy was shot, and she can provide strong testimony
regarding the credibility of Goodwins alibi. In fact, after Ruby testifies on
the first day of trail, Horace is certain he has the case won. After coaching
Ruby throughout the evening in preparation for a possible cross-
examination on the following day, Horace declares, By noon he'll
[Goodwin] walk out of there a free man: do you realize XhatT'(Sanctuaiy,
280). If Horace is correct, then an innocent man will be acquitted before a
jury of his peers, Horaces ideal of justice will prevail over a southern
code which victimizes white trash, and all the citizens of Yoknapatawpha
will bear witness to it.
20


Faulkner casts a spotlight on the juggernaut that is the southern
code by running this passionate man of law straight into its maw.
Tragically, Horace discovers that his belief injustice and righteousness of
the law have no power over people who hold intractably to a southern
code. Everything in Benbows idealist reality comes crashing down inside
the solemn walls of the Jefferson courthouse where, ironically, Horaces
naive confidence in the efficacy of reason to secure justice inevitably leads
to Horace's downfall and a flagrant miscarriage of justice. The first
surprise awaiting Horace is already sitting in the courtroom when Horace
arrives. It is Temple Drake, the daughter of a judge, an upper class white
man. Like Ruby, she was also present at the scene of Tommys murder,
yet Horace had not believed she would be present to testify. None the less,
Horace immediately understands she has the potential to exonerate Mr.
Goodwin by offering testimony to explain the truth of how it was Popeye,
not Goodwin, who shot and killed Tommy. Horace cannot be aware of the
machinations undertaken by other parties in this case (including an
unnamed Jewish lawyer, the prosecutor on the case, District Attorney
Graham, and even Judge Drake) to find and remove the girl out of her
Memphis dwelling. Additionally, Horace is perfectly naive about
Temples relationship in Memphis with a man named Red, her lover, and
he cannot know how Red was also recently murdered. Horace thus has no
21


clue about this young womans state and the reason for her willingness to
return to Yoknapatawpha. While it may be appropriate to blame Horace
for failing to perform due diligence in this case, his failure to comprehend
the unified effort undertaken by these three other men of law (the Jewish
lawyer, Graham, and Drake) to advance the southern code is
understandable.
As such, Horace is surprised a second time when Temple is called
as the first witness and proceeds to offer false testimony that damns
Goodwin. The District Attorney asks her questions relating not to the
murder, but rather to the identity of a man who had raped her at the same
location and near the same time that Tommy was found dead. Even as
Temple lies and testifies that Goodwin raped her, Benbow sits idly by and
does nothing to disrupt the scene or object to the District Attorney's
leading questions. At the very least, an able attorney would object to the
District Attorneys questions on grounds of relevancy. This is a murder
trial, not a rape trial, and the sexual abuse suffered by Temple is irrelevant
in this case. But Horace says nothing, and Temple finishes her testimony
while the prosecutor in the case. District Attorney Mr. Graham, declares,
[y]our honor and gentlemen, you have listened to this horrible, this
unbelievable, story which this young girl has told ... 1 shall no longer
subject this ruined, defenseless child to the agony...."(Sanctuary. 288).
11


Of course, both the reader and Benbow know that Temple Drake has just
lied through her teeth.
At this critical moment in the trial, Horace is silent. The law
accords the defendants attorney the opportunity to cross-examine any
witness. Being refused such an opportunity is grounds for a mistrial. A
satisfactory cross examination would draw out the inaccuracies of
Temples accusations and reveal the deception in her fraudulent testimony.
Such a cross-examination would counter the momentum built up by the
District Attorney and temper the emotions in the courtroom, which are in
an emotional frenzy, seething in a collective long hissing
breath "{Sanctuary, 288). Horace should counter the courtroom pathos
ignited by Mr. Graham by bringing the case back to an investigation of
reason and logic regarding Tommys murder. But Horace never conducts a
cross-examination of Temple Drake. In a bewildered state, he hesitates,
and before he knows it his opportunity (and his obligation) to act is lost.
Immediately after the District Attorney finishes questioning Temple, the
girls father (Mr. Drake) walks right up to the Bench and seems to
demand, rather than inquire, is the Court done with this
witness?)Sanctuaiy, 288). Without waiting for an answer, he lifts her up
and takes her down off the stand and straight out of the courtroom. This is
a calculated movement by Mr. Drake, of course, as it permits Temple to
23


leave the courtroom appearing as a proper young woman who was
victimized by white trash. Confused, and perhaps overwhelmed, Horace
must know that the trial is lost. Regardless of what further actions he
takes, his client has already been convicted in the minds of the jury by
Temple's testimony. The jury believes a debutante was raped by white
trash, an egregious violation of the southern code, and the jury deliberates
for all of eight minutes before returning precisely what the District
Attorney asked them for: a guilty verdict.
Horace assumed that society would act justly, rationally,
humanely. When they do notwhen Temple perjures herself and the jury
believes herGoodwins case is lost, and Horaces faith in the power of
law to triumph over the southern code is shattered. Shock renders Horace
Benbow speechless. When he is face to face with Temple, a victim who
falsely testifies inside the sacred court of law rather than bring the
legitimate offender to justice, this man given to much talk and not much
e\sQ"(Sanctuaiy, 13) is silent. Horace actually has the truth in this case,
but his beliefs and aspirations for justice become muted and his vision
destroyed when put on trial. The southern code pervades even the
courtroom in Yoknapataw pha. Olga Vickery points out that God, whom
Horace believed to be a gentleman,' remains genteelly indifferent to the
subversion of His divine [justice] by human ones [laws](Vickery, Olga,
24


Faulkner, A Collection of Critical Essays, 128). If people listened to
Horace and followed him, an innocent man would be set free, and a guilty
man would have been brought to justice (ironically, Popeye still gets his
due when he is later executed for a crime he did not commit). But the
people are influenced by the southern code, and punishment is merited for
white trash that abuse upper-class white women. Horaces professional
training in the law is outmatched by the powerful southern code, and he
watches impotently as a fraud is perpetrated on the court and legal justice
is bypassed.
How did this happen, and what is going on with Temple Drake?
She has, after all, only just returned to Yoknapatawpha after spending an
extended amount of time in a dark room in Memphis as Popeye's
prisoner. Temple has no apparent reason to inculpate Goodwin in any
crime, much less a capital crime such as murder. But she still single-
handedly secures his guilty verdict, and her reasons for doing so
demonstrate, once again, the pow er of the southern code. In Faulkners
novels, young upper-class women are taught to adhere to the southern
code by powerful paternal figures. Young women like Temple, however,
are certainly not powerless. A stunning coquette. Temple finds her source
of pow'er in her sexuality. With a body that makes men desire her
uncontrollably, she tests and exploits this power with her coquetry (as an
25


indication of her reputation, Horace discovers her name written on a
lavatory wall at the train station). But, as Ruby Leinar points out, she does
not realize that she is playing with fire: You poor little gutless fool,
Ruby says (Sanctuary, 70).
To protect Temple and to prevent promiscuity, Temple's father,
Judge Drake, represses and restrains his daughter's sexuality and
subjugates her within the southern code. If she is to be a "proper southern
lady," she must take her place in the southern code which elevates her
(and her lusty desires) above blacks and white trash below her. Temple's
father is determined to ascribe to his daughter her rightful position in the
hierarchy, and commensurately force her to become a disciple to the
southern code. Aided by a walking stick, a tool of discipline and
punishment, Judge Drake represents not just Temples father, but a
patriarchal deity who sits atop the southern hierarchy: a pinnacle of the
southern code. More importantly, Temple treats him as such. When in the
face of danger, his daughter calls upon the name of her father the Judge,
not the name of God: [S]he could not think of a single designation for the
heavenly father, so she began to say My father's a judge; my fathers a
judge over and over..."(Sanctuaiy, 51). Further, she calls upon him for
protection, Anything you say. My father will give it to me"(Sanctuary,
61). Still, learning to obey the will of a demanding father does not come
26


quickly to most teenagers, and Temple is no different. Only after being
removed from the southern code will she eventually return to it as an
adherent.
If Temple is to secure an identity separate and distinct from merely
being a proper lady belonging to a powerful white father, she must escape
the watchful eye of her father and the social code of Yoknapatawpha. The
power Temple harbors in her sexualitya power which is repressed or
forbidden by her lordly fatheris flaunted as a beacon to prospective
suitors to "rescue" her from her proper lady prison. Ironically, rather than
being rescued from the southern code by a gallant hero and taken away to
a place where she might be liberated to establish her own identity free of
the codes fetters, Temples would-be-rescuer, Popeye, is instead a man
who does not even embrace the sexuality of Temple for himself. Popeye
is impotent, and offers Temples sexuality to others to secure his own
commercial profit. After she is sexually abused by Popeye with a corncob
in Goodwin's bam, Temple is subsequently taken by him to a Memphis
brothel where she inhabits a dark room and subsists on a diet of cigarettes
and whiskey. Her escape from the southern code, Temple finds, has led
her to a dark sanctuary where rather than being repressed by the southern
code, her sexualityher sole source of pow eris taken from her and sold
as a commodity.
27


By symbolizing the danger of escaping the social hierarchy and an
insouciant fall into depravity, Temple actually serves as an advocate for
the southern code. After all, both the law and the southern code are the
structures in place to prevent such base circumstances as have befallen
Temple. But both the law and the southern code are curiously absent in
Memphis. Had she remained a prim and proper lady under the guidance of
her father, Temple would not have fallen into the pit of despair in
Memphis. Yet, in order to enjoy an elevated status in society, Temple
must subjugate herself beneath the paternal southern code, a code which
limits and constricts her sexual identity and power. Temple realizes the
unfortunate fate reserved for herself and other nubile women. There on
the stiff bed in Memphis, Temple l[ay] on her back, her legs close
together, she began to cry, hopelessly and passively, like a child in a
dentists waiting voom"(Sanctuaiy, 150). This image is childlike and
naive: a young girl awaiting a masculine dentist to examine or operate on
her in a structured setting. The procedure may indeed cause pain, but
ultimately it is for her betterment (that is, her good health and healing). It
is also a sexual image, as Temple holds her legs close together to secure
her source of power, striving (in a hopelessly futile way) to lock it against
the darkness (incarnate in Memphis) which hungers to take it from her.
This forlorn, hopeless image expresses the futility faced by a young
28


woman like Temple. Essentially, she has only two options: either
exchange her identity and power for the protection and safety of the
southern code, or escape the code and thus open herself to base depravity
in the dark underworld.
Temple does not pursue her escape from the southern code with
alacrity, though she certainly does not shy away from it, and when the
novel sees her whisked away into Popeyes dark world of sex and
depravity, she does not cry out for help. Rather, she simply replaces the
voice of her father with the perverse commands of Popeye. Whether it is
her lordly father or a sinister sexual deviant, Temple allows men to control
her. There within her dark sanctuary, Temple succumbs to the depravity
of her new surroundings and comes to substitute Popeye for her father,
Judge Drake, evidenced by her frantic invocations to Popeye of Daddy.
Daddy . Give it to me, daddy"(Sanctuaiy, 236). The ease with which
she substitutes Popeye for her father alerts readers that the run-away
Temple is not, as Tebbet suggests, a modernist rebel, reclaiming her
identity and her sexuality from an oppressive social systenT(Tebbet,
Terrell, The Faulkner Journal, 56). No, she is merely a young woman who
lets men control her as she is taken from one setting to another, from a
university campus, to the Memphis underworld, and even, as we shall see,
in a court of law.
29


Temple eventually emerges from the Memphis underworld when
she is taken to another sanctuary: the courtroom. Once again, Temple does
not act on her own volition; rather, she permits herself to be controlled by
men. This time, it is patriarchs of the southern code who remove her from
Memphis and take her to a courtrooma supposed temple' of justice
where she will be forced to inhabit her proper role beneath the southern
code once again. Lahey notes that while Faulkners male characters
frequently expend their energy trying to neutralize empowered women
under the code, female characters, are most helpless, or most punished
for their threat of equality in the forum of male-construed, male-centered
institutions"(Lahey, 517). Nowhere is this more apparent than in the
institution Faulkner returns to again and again, the law: with the male
representation of women in the court; with the claims, outcomes, attitudes,
and verdicts regarding women and their legal identities; with the lack of
chance for women ... to represent their own interests(Lahey, 517). In
this case, Temple is examined in the court of law, and the men represent
and advocate for her identity as a proper southern lady. Temple does not
represent her own experience or interests; rather, her experiences (her
testimony) and interests (indeed, the interest ascribed to her by the
southern code) are represented on her behalf (whether she wants it or not)
by the ambassadors of the southern code.
30


When Temple testifies in the Jefferson courtroom in that pivotal
moment as justice and the fate of Lee Goodwin hang in the balance, Judge
Drake intervenes by swooping into the courtroom like an avenging god.
His approaching the witness and taking her away violates decorum in a
way that would allow the sitting judge to charge him with contempt. No
such warning comes; rather, the entire courtroomeveryone from the
judge down to the attorneys to the people in the galleryare spellbound
by the aura and presence of this man. Judge Drake is a tangible symbol of
the southern code, and he acts at will within the courtroom of law. Judge
Drake is shown the utmost respect and honor by the trial judge who
supplicates to his request as he glides with confidence right up to the
witness stand, carries away a critical witness, and leaves, no questions
asked. With his intrusion into the courtroom, Judge Drake ensures that
Temple will be reassimilated under the code as he places his daughter
back into her proper position. Further, Judge Drakes actions demonstrate
the power of the southern code to trump proper decorum of the law.
As Temple is escorted out of the courtroom by Drake we see one
final symbol of Temples entering the southern code. When Temple drops
her platinum bag onto the floor, Judge Drake sees it but does not return it
to her. Rather, he kicks it away with his foot. Inside the bag is her compact
which she uses to present herself to the world as she would be. The
31


platinum bag was given to Temple by Popeye, and without her compact
and the other necessary sundries inside it, Temple has nothing but her
father, the Judge, to depend on. Temple thus becomes a prisoner in the
Judge's house as she was in the bordello(Tebbett, 57). With Sanctuary,
Faulkner presents a setting where the southern code operates to advance
the, constricting, defining, shaping, [and] controlling ... of
woman(Lahey, 524). With the character of Temple Drake, the author
demonstrates how the southern code represses women by slotting them in
their appropriate subservient position in the hierarchy.
As Temple is reassimilated into the code, Goodwin bums on a bon-
fire built by vigilantes. Under the law, Goodwin still needs to be sentenced
for the crime for which he has been convicted. But he receives no such
opportunity because the law is usurped by the southern code. Worked up
in a frenzy on the news of Goodwin's guilt and throbbing with a sense of
southern code duty pertaining to this man who violated an upper-class
white girl, the men of Yoknapatawpha destroy Goodwin in a public
conflagration. In a novel full of victims of the southern code (notably
Temple and Goodwin), we must not forget that Horace belongs on this list
as well. Horace Benbows journey ends with an ultimate and complete
surrender to the powerful southern code. Horace had set out to fight for
justice under the law, assuming he would succeed because truth and
32


justice must inevitably triumph, or so he believed. During his journey
throughout the novel, he realizes that this idealism does not exist in reality
and it is crushed by the southern code. He retreats back along the dusty
roads taking him out of Yoknapatawpha, away from the frenzied mobs,
and back to the security of his controlling wife at home. Early in the novel,
when his sister had asked him, why mix up in it...[w]hy must you do
such things? Horace had replied, 1 cannot stand idly by and see
injustice(Sanctuary, 119). Horace acted, he saw legal justice defeated
by the southern code, and he now removes himself from the setting
altogether. Ms. Jenny was indeed correct when she told him at the
beginning of the novel, [y]ou wont ever catch up with injustice,
Horaee"(Sanctuaiy, 119). A defeated Horace is left to believe she is right.
Faulkner hints early on that Horaces absolute faith in legal justice
is naive and misguided. Horaces existence in a place like Yoknapatawpha
where justice is elusive is symbolized in the image of him kneeling to the
earth to drink from a spring. We read, In the spring the drinking man
leaned his face to the broken and myriad reflection of his own drinking.
When he rose up he saw among them the shattered reflection of Popeyes
straw hat, though he had heard no sound"(Sanctuan\ 4). As he leans over
to drink from the earth, Horace views his reflection mirrored in the water.
Then, horrifically, he watches his own reflection become interspersed with
33


that of Popeyes, and he watches as the lapping water unites Popeyes
reflection within his own.
Popeye is abnormal, sterile, and the epitome of base depravity. As
a child he cut up birds and kittens with scissors. With a face that has a
queer, bloodless color, as seen by electric light, and like a wax doll set
too near a hot fire and forgotten,"{Sanctuary, 4-5) Popeye is described as
scary, unwell, and wrong. When the essence of Popeye is latent in the very
water and nature of the county, the reader perceives that something is ugly
and wrong in Yoknapatawpha. Further, we see that this image of Popeye
also dwells within Horace, ambassador of the legal system. Thus,
Popeyes reflection in the spring hints at both the endemic, ugly southern
code in Yoknapatawpha, as well as the potential of something going awry
with Horace Benbow and the legal system he stands for.
Both of these suggestions turn out to come true, as we see injustice
occur in both the southern code and the legal system. First, we have
already seen how the wrath of the southern code in Yoknapatawpha claims
the life of Goodwin in a bon-fire set by vigilantes. However, Popeye also
plays a crucial role in our understanding of statutory law and justice.
Though he is never blamed for Tommys murder, Popeye is still actually
processed all the way through the legal system. The irony is that, like
Goodwin, he is convicted by a jury for a crime he did not commit. In fact,
34


Popeye is convicted in Birmingham for killing a police officer at the same
time and day that he was preoccupied killing a different man in Memphis
(Red, Temples lover). So while we know that Popeye is guilty of Reds
murder, we also know that he is innocent of the murder for which he is
tried. None the less, Popeye is judged guilty for this crime and he is
sentenced to hang. Popeye is not victimized by the southern code, but he is
defeated (unjustly) by the legal justice system. Still, he seems intent on
doing all he can to ensure his demise within the legal system. Popeye does
not win any friends in the courtroom, alienating the judge as well as all
potential defense attorneys that are present in the gallery. As a reward, the
judge appoints Popeye with a newly minted attorney right out of law
school. A raw, untested litigator is clearly not the seasoned veteran one
would hope for in a capital murder case. Then, after he is convicted,
Popeye refuses to appeal, despite the fact that the D.A. is certain he will
and is even making his plans for an appeal immediately after they exit the
courtroom: It was too easy, the D.A. exclaims, noting Popeye,
probably got a Memphis lawyer already there outside the supreme court
door now, waiting for a wire.. .everybody knows it [the verdict] wont
hold(S<:mc//m/y, 312). And yet, to the surprise of everyone, Popeye does
not appeal. He simply accepts the jurys misguided decision, and remains
content to sit in his cell and smoke the days away. Perhaps feeling a
35


burden of guilt or a sense of karmic justice, Popeye seems content to be
hanged by the legal system, and he is.
While the southern code subverts legal justice in Goodwins case
(Goodwin is tried in court but he is destroyed by vigilantes before he is
legally sentenced), it does not come into play for Popeye. As a white man
with money, he is not victimized by the southern code the way racial
minorities and white trash may be. Rather, Faulkner has Popeye meet his
demise by the legal system. Although the jurys ruling is incorrect, Popeye
received all of the justice guaranteed to him by the law. He received a
trial, was represented by counsel, was judged by a jury of his peers, and
was sentenced in court. Still, why did Faulkner choose to have Popeye
convicted of a crime he didn't commit? He could have simply had Popeye
convicted of Red's murder. The answer reveals Faulkner's understanding
of an imperfect legal system. Though there are procedural and
constitutional safeguards, the system is not perfect, and sometimes an
innocent man is judged guilty: even the legal system can fail. Faulkner
hinted as much when Popeyes base image appeared interspersed with that
of Horace, the legal systems ambassador. Nothing is perfect in
Yoknapatawpha. The southern code usurps the law and destroys Lee
Goodwin, and the legal system convicts and destroys Popeye for a crime
he didnt commit. Though both systems of justice fail in Sanctuaiy,
36


there is no mistaking that one system is blatantly racist and classist, and
the other operates with a judge, jury of peers, guaranteed legal counsel,
and chance for appeal. Unlike the southern code, the legal system is set up
to be fair to all people. Still, justice for accused criminals remains elusive
in Sanctuary, being thwarted by southern code vigilantes and incorrect
legal rulings, and we should have known this would be the case after
seeing Popeye's vile image dwelling in the spring water.
Light in August
With Light in August, published just one year after Sanctuaiy,
Faulkner provides another glimpse of the entrenched southern code and its
damning denouement. In this tour deforce, Faulkner once again features
the southern code, and the reader senses a malaise upon Yoknapatawpha
from the first page. A tall column of yellow smoke rising at the opening of
Light in August heralds an ominous portent for the county. Newly aware
that the smoke rises from a burning home, and that Joanna Burden has
allegedly been murdered by a black man within it, a crowd mobilizes
"within thirty minutes ... as though out of thin air . parties and groups
ranging from single individuals to entire families. Still others came out
from town(Faulkner, Light in August, 287 [hereafter. Light]). The
37


existence of a dead white woman puts everyone on alarm, and they begin
to frantically ask, who did it? . By God, if thats him, what are we
doing, standing around here? Murdering a white woman the black son of a
. ."{Light, 290-91).
Rumor spreads immediately that the man responsible for this crime
was the enigmatic drifter, Joe Christmas. While Joe Christmass race
actually remains ambiguous (his father was most likely Hispanic, not
black), he tells others that he is part black, and he has been identified as a
black man by his former business partner, Joe Brown. When Mr. Brown is
detained and questioned by the police, he knows he holds a trump card
when he tells the Sheriff, Go on. Accuse me . Accuse the white man
and let the nigger go free. Accuse the white and let the nigger mri{Light,
97). The victim of the crime, Joanna Burden, was a recluse who lived on
the outskirts of Jefferson. The little that people knew of her consisted
mostly of rumors regarding her abolitionist family roots, her pursuit of
advancing the black race, and, most shocking to gossipers, her rumored
salacious relationship with a black man. Yet, in the instant the crowds
discover that a white woman has been nearly decapitated, the historical
specificity of Joanna Burden disappears, and the foreigner stigma is
replaced with the myth of the unguarded southern white lady. Chuck
Jackson notes succinctly that, Burden's death transforms the Yankee-
38


foreigner into violated southern white woman whom the mob instantly
identifies as one of their owrT(Jackson, Chuck, The Faulkner Journal,
202). Acting on rumors regarding his race, and influenced by the mold of
the southern code, the people of Yoknapatawpha cast Joe into the
character of black rapist and murderer who must be destroyed. Fittingly,
Joe is depicted in the text as a tempting black serpent as he stakes out
Burdens home from behind the bushes near her house, lying in the
copse, on his belly on the dark earth(L/g/?/, 228). As Nelson observes,
Burden's death thus puts into motion the beginnings of a lynching
narrative, where black men are a threat to white women, the white
family, white racial purity, supremacy, and ultimately, the nation(Nelson,
Lisa, The Faulkner Journal, 53).
We have already discussed the way the southern code operated
within its racist and classist mores to subvert legal justice and provide for
the extra-judicial destruction of Lee Goodwin, a lower-class white man.
Now. we will witness the way the southern code again bypasses legal
justice as a racist vigilante kills this black man who is alleged to have
raped and murdered a white woman.
As soon as Christmas is returned to Jefferson from Mottstown,
Percy Grimm, a local young Captain in the state National guard, reports to
the commander of his local Post that We got to preserve order.. .we must
39


let the law take its course"(Light, 451). Aware of the volatile anger of the
citizens of Jefferson, Percy reasons, It is the right of no civilian to
sentence a man to death...we, the soldiers in Jefferson, are the ones to see
to that'(Light, 452). The legion commander disagrees, noting dont think
there is any need of it. And if there was, we would all have to act as
civilians. I couldnt use the Post like that. After all, we are not soldiers
now(Z./g/?/, 452). Undeterred, Percy is zealous in his desire for power,
and he refuses to adhere to the commander's position. With a vision and
leadership style that is so sincere, so humorless(L/g/?/, 452), this young
man assumes leadership over the commander and the other local National
guardsmen who acquiesce to his leadership because there is something
irresistible and prophetlike(Z,/g/7/, 453) about him. As he organizes a
ragtag platoon of legion-members to patrol the streets of Jefferson and
maintain order, the citizens of Jefferson notice Percys leadership and
believe that he is the captain of them. Special officer sent by the
governor. Hes the head of the whole thing. Sheriff aint got no say in it
today(Z./g/7/, 458).
This leadership position belongs rightfully to the sheriff of
Yoknapatawpha, Mr. Kennedy. Yet Kennedy seems to be disengaged from
the entire situation. While Percy is organizing platoons of men to patrol
the streets, Kennedy isn't even at his sheriff s office; rather, the elected
40


lawman is at home assumed to be [ejating, I reckon. A man as big as him
has got to eat several times a d&y"{Light, 454). When Percy finally tracks
the sheriff down, he is told that his men may not carry pistols. However,
despite the sheriff s demands that Percy leave his pistol at home, Percy
refuses to comply, and the sheriff caves in to Percy, saying, [w jell... I
reckon Ill have to make you a special deputy. But you aint to even show
that gun unless I tell you to. You hear meT'{Light, 455). To this Grimm
replies, certainly not, at once answering the sheriffs later question while
also asserting his superior position by refusing the sheriff s demand. With
his soft stance which permits Percy and his men to carry pistols, the sheriff
offers Percy his tacit endorsement to patrol the streets with fireanns.
Remarkably, it is not only the sheriff and guardsmen of Jefferson that give
their endorsement to Percy, but the people in town as well. In fact, the
people of Jefferson place their faith and confidence in this young man,
almost without knowing they had done so:
Without knowing that they were thinking it, the town had
suddenly accepted Grimm with respect and perhaps a little
awe and a deal of actual faith and confidence, as though
somehow his vision and patriotism and pride in the town,
the occasion had been quicker and truer than theirs {Light,
456-66).
There are two primary reasons why the all of these parties respond
to the leadership of Percy Grimm. First, and most importantly, Percy is a
41


man with a pistol who is outside of the law, and he has the potential to
enforce the southern code. The sheriff will not do it, he is a man of the
law, intent on keeping Christmas locked in jail until he is tried in a court
of law and sentenced. Percy, on the other hand, can be understood to be
searching for his opportunity to get at this black' murderer who slept
with a white woman. After all, he has overreacted to the intensity of the
situation when Christmas is brought to Jefferson. There are no raging
mobs waiting to lynch Christmas upon his arrival, and even Percy's legion
command asks, How do you know that anybody is planning
anything.. .Have you heard any talkT'(Light, 452). He has not, yet Grimm
escalates the intensity of the situation and talks his way into being
permitted to guard the streets with armed men. Then, as Percy gathers
recruits to form his platoon, the men are all in agreement with the legion
commander that the official designation of the legion must be kept out of
it(Light, 453). Why would they insist on this? Without any official
designation, the men are nothing more than an armed group of men,
keeping a lookout on the accused black" man secured inside the county
jail. Percy's men explain, This is Jefferson's trouble, not Washingtons,
and by keeping the any government designation out of it, they reason, we
can do what we want without that. Better. Aint that right, boy s?"(Z/§-/?/,
454). What this armed group of white men want, understandably, is to
42


execute vigilante justice on Joe Christmas. Indeed, the men betray their
underlying intentions when they call out to the night marshal who keeps
watch at the jail to throw the son of a bitch out "{Light, 457). Make no
mistake, Percy is the leader of an organized lynch mob just waiting for a
chance to usurp the law and execute the southern code, and they will get
their man Joe Christmas.
This brings us to the second reason why Percy is able to assume
leadership in Yoknapatawpha. The young man inspires confidence
because of his decisive action and the certitude in his mission. While
charismatic confidence was grown in Percy over time, his mission and the
beliefs that propel it are intrinsic to the character. Percy is not born a
natural leader, he is actually aimless until he discovers his calling. Percy
spent his early years like a man who had been for a long time in a
swamp, in the dark. It was as though he not only could see no path ahead
of him, he knew there was none'XLight, 450-451). Thought by his own
family to be lazy and "perfectly worthless," something remarkable
happens to Percy shortly after he enters adulthood which changes his life
forever: "[Sjuddenly his life opened definite and clear[.] and Percy
could now see his life opening before him, uncomplex and inescapable as
a barren corridor, completely freed now of ever having to think or decide,
the burden which he now assumed and carried as bright and
43


weightless...."{Light, 451). This watershed event occurs the moment he
assumes a sublime and implicit faith in . blind obedience, and a belief
that the white race is superior to any and all other races "(Light, 451).
Percy finds himself as he embraces the southern code, and his faith in
racial superiority justifies his existence and his actions. No longer aimless,
Percy is certain of his mission in life. He holds a remarkable, unfailing
confidence in this fate, and his commitment to enforcing the southern code
will be ruthless.
When Joe Christmas escapes from jail, Percy Grimm reacts
immediately. Almost as if he expected the scenario to play out in a certain
way, Percy, knew at once what had happened, and his reaction was
definite and immediate(L/'g/7/', 458). Brimming with confidence and with
arrogant, unwavering fortitude, he pursues Christmas while the
townspeople made way, recognizing in him how "he seemed to be
served by certitude, the blind and untroubled faith in the rightness and
infallibility of his actions)/./^/, 459). Percy chases the fugitive with the
implacable undeviation of Juggernaut or Fate, and he does so "as though
under the protection of a magic or a providence...."{Light, 460, 462).
Berland observes how Percy's demeanor seems almost supernatural or
ordained, noting Grimms pursuit of Joe Christmas associates Grimm
with the echoing tone of some infallible, inflexible Jehovah, relentlessly
44


pursuing the enemy...(Berland, 53). Berland is correct in spotting the
determinism in Percys pursuit, but she stops short in identifying the
source of Percys drive. Percy Grimm is driven by the southern code. This
is indicated in the fact that when he finally catches up to Joe Christmas,
Percy does not try to arrest the fugitive and return him to jail where he can
be later tried in court. Rather, he dashes into the home with his pistol
drawn, already firing into the room where Christmas is cowering. Percy
wants to kill Christmas himself, to destroy this black man who dared to
sleep with and then murder a white woman. Ominously, even after
shooting Christmas with the pistol, Grimm is not yet finished with
Christmas, and his final repulsive action against the man is a convincing
finale that explains all of his actions leading up to it. Grimm grasps a
butchers knife and emasculates the immobile Christmas. As the pent
black blood seemed to rush like a released breath out of the slashed
garments about Christmass loins, Grimm says [n]ow youll let white
women alone, even in hell(Z./g/7/, 464). The southern code drove Percy to
first become involved in patrolling Jefferson while it held an alleged
black rapist and murderer. The code fueled his chase after Christmas as
well as his use of deadly force to destroy the man. Finally, the southern
code is the motivation behind his torture of Christmas in a symbolic
45


emasculation. With these actions, and a name that evokes the Grim
Reaper, Percy Grimm is unmistakably an executor of the southern code.
Faulkner adds another layer of interpretation to this episode by
portraying the victim of the southern code as an archetypal symbol. Joe
Christmass fated destruction is paralleled to the crucifixion of Jesus
Christ. Though Faulkner deflected queries into his intention of doing so, I
believe it would be a mistake to dismiss the parallels between Jesus Christ
and Joe Christmas, as they are myriad and prevalent. Like Jesus, Joe is
born to an unmarried mother, and he is found at the front door of an
orphanage on Christmas day. He is named Joseph Christmas, thus having
the initials J.C. His feet are washed by Mrs. McEachem who, like the
crowds in Jerusalem, carries a palm-leaf fan "{Light, 148). Like Jesus, the
years of Christmass teens and twenties are nebulous, until when at the age
of thirty-three Joe arrives in Jefferson. Joe is betrayed to the authorities by
his partner Lucas Birch, a parallel of Judas, for one-thousand pieces of
silver. Christmas flees Jefferson and arrives in Mottstown where a man
recognizes him and asks, Aint your name Christmas? Just like Christ,
Joes response is that he never denied 331). Finally, at the age
of thirty-three (the age of Christ when he w as crucified), Joe Christmas
receives five wounds (stigmata) as he is killed on a Friday; we may call it
Good Friday. Finally, Faulkner's minister in the novel, Reverend
46


Hightower, prophesized this demise, believing Christmas was the
doomed man...in whose crucifixion [a church] will raise a cross! C/g/7/,
348).
Faulkner pins the archetype of Christmas and Percy Grimm,
executor of the southern code, against each other in a cosmic showdown in
the temple of a man of God. There in Rev. Hightowers home, Joe
Christmas finally succumbs to death at the hand of Percy Grimm. Because
he is an archetype of Christ, Christmas destiny is fated. Nelson notes
how, the story of Christ, and by extension any story allegorically
structured on it, would of necessity be both fated and fatal: how it ends
would and could not change, and the protagonist would die(Nelson, 57).
Despite having a pistol, Christmas does not fire it at Percy; he instead
stoically accepts his fate. The narrator admits it was as though he had set
out to and made his plans to passively commit suicide(Z./g/ir, 443). In Joe
Christmass final moments he, just lay there, with his eyes open and
empty of everything save consciousness. Then, with peaceful and
unfathomable and unbearable eyes Joe becomes a stoic victim to the
southern code as his pent black blood seemed to rush like a released
breath(Z./g/7?, 465).
With this understanding of the southern code and vigilante Percy
Grimm, we discover the fascinating w'ay Faulkner employed these
47


symbols and archetypes in Light in August to deliver a penetrating, lasting
critique against the southern code. The southern code energizes Percy to
pursue Christmas, the embodiment of the mythic southern rapist, until he
is ultimately destroyed. The character of Percy Grimm, Faulkner explains,
exists everywhere . and hes not prevalent but he's every-
where(Gwynn, Frederick L., and Joseph L. Blotner, Faulkner in the
University, 41). This vigilantes defeat of Joe Christmas demonstrates the
relentless destructive power of the southern code. Further, Faulkner
employs biblical allegory in the novel, Nelson writes precisely for its
overdetermined, fatal quality(Nelson. 57). Joe Christmass destruction
plants itself in the conscience of its readers and will remain there a
stinging reminder of the wretchedness of the southern code. This code
motivates Percy Grimm to torture a critically wounded Christmas in such
a way that when people saw what Grimm was doing one of the men gave
a choked cry and stumbled back into the wall and began to vomit''(Light,
464). This spectacle of Percy Grimms execution of the southern code and
the demise of Joe Christmas which induces physical expulsion will not be
forgotten by the reader, rather the symbol of Christmas will rise soaring
into their memories forever and ever...it will be there, musing, quiet,
steadfast, not fading!!/"/?/, 465).
48


Intruder in the Dust
With Intruder in the Dust, Faulkner offers a final portrait of the
southern code. Published when the author was fifty-one years old, and
after a life-time spent in the South, Faulkner w as ready to pen a novel that
explicitly focused on the southern code. Robert Penn Warren observes
that this novel is more of a polemic, a tract w hich focuses directly on the
race issues (Warren, Robert Penn, Faulkner, A Collection of Critical
Essays, 33). With this in mind, we observe a familiar setting in which a
black man stands accused of a heinous crime. Yet this time things take a
different turn in the story, and the southern code is defeated as the black
man walks free. How and why this happened, and Faulkners reason for
creating such a plot, will reveal the author's optimistic hope for the future
generations of the South.
Intruder in the Dust opens as a peal of bells erupts in the crowded
square of Yoknapatawpha County on a Sunday, announcing the arrival of
Lucas Beauchamp as he is ushered to jail. Lucas is in a bad spot, standing
accused of shooting a white man in the back, and a black man murdering a
49


white man will inspire vigilantes under the southern code intent on
destroying the man. To make matters worse, Lucas has the reputation of
an insolent middle-aged black man who refuses to adhere to his proper
place in the southern code by acting appropriately according to his status
in society. At such a moment of crisis, a powerful lawyer could really do
something significant here by providing a staunch and zealous defense for
this accused black murderer.
As he watches the scene unfold amidst the crowd, Charles Malory,
a middle-class white teenager, suddenly becomes part of the action when
he is summoned by the prisoner and told, [tjell your uncle I wants to see
him(Faulkner, William. Intruder in the Dust, 44 [hereafter Intruder}).
Charles Malory (Chick) relays Lucass request to his uncle, and Gavin
Stevens travels to the jail cell. Gavin wastes no time in betraying his
opinions regarding this insolent black man. Entering the jail, Gavin begins
his conversation with Lucas by saying, "Well, old man ... you played hell
at \as\ "(Intruder, 57). When asked what he will do with Lucas, Gavin
replies, "Me?...Nothing. My name aint Gowrie. It aint even Beat
Four" (Intruder, 58). The Gowries live in a part of town called Beat Four,
and Gavin's words infer that a lynch mob composed of these men will
have their way with Lucas. Lucas is persistent in seeking due process of
the law, saying, 1 mean the law. Aint you the county lawyerT'(Intruder,
50


58). Gavin is in fact the county lawyer, but even though he eventually
agrees to represent Lucas, he has no confidence in Lucas's chances at
court, telling him youll plead guilty...[tjhen they wont hang you; they'll
send you to the penitentiary; you probably wont live long enough to be
paroled but at least the Gowries cant get to you there (Intruder, 63).
Lawyer Stevens is quick to advise this plea that would send the man to
prison for the remainder of his life because he knows that the community
w'ould rather just lynch this accused black murderer. Gavin doesn't even
give Lucas a chance to speak and explain his innocent role in the alleged
crime. Still, even if had the chance to speak, Lucas wouldn't tell him who
really killed Vinson Gowrie. Lucas knows that Gavin, a powerful white
man entrenched in the southern code, wont believe him anyway, and he
also understands that naming a white murderer would carry its own kind
of death sentence by the mobs waiting outside. Lucas believes (and he is
intractable enough to never deviate from his beliefs) that he has to let Mr.
Stevens and other powerful white people figure it out for themselves, if he
is to be exonerated. Lawyer Stevens cannot help Lucas in this predicament
as he is too sure of Lucas's guilt; rather, if he is to achieve legal justice,
Lucas must look for a sympathetic ear from those characters that have not
yet been poisoned by the southern code.
51


Certainly, Lucas would be better off having an influential white
attorney to advocate on his behalf. A lawyer is in a unique position in
society to influence the community with his words and actions. He is a
sort of lawyer-paternalist: guiding both blacks and whites in the right
direction while at the same time protecting community-based
norms..."(Sassoubre, 205). The problem in Yoknapatawpha is that
Faulkner's lawyer is imbued with the tenets of the southern code and this
lawyer-paternalist thus promulgates the southern code in the county.
Norms of the southern code rooted in racism and classism are a deterrent
to social equality and legal justice, and Lawyer Stevens does not speak out
against them. Gavin instead promulgates what he identifies as the rules:
the nigger acting like a nigger and the white folks acting like white folks
and no real hard feelings on either side'Untmder, 48).
Faulkner's intentional use of "the n-word" further reinforces the
racial hierarchy endemic to the southern code and espoused by Gavin
Stevens. The word functions as a marker of identity, and the name
nigger evokes an entire way of racial perception by both blacks and
whites that is continually codified by each use of the w ord. Sugimori
points out how the denomination of nigger molds blacks into acting
like niggers and wanting to kill whites like Vinson Gowrie (Sugimori,
Masami, The Faulkner Journal, 63). This trope not only suppresses a
52


Black individuals diversity, individuality, and personhood but it also
attaches to them stereotypically inferior attributes such as ignorance,
cowardice, childishness, subservience, savageness and
brutality'(Sugiinori, 56). Lucas, however, refuses to play the role
assigned to him, and thus becomes a constant source of frustration to
Gavin Stevens and the rest of the white community who are determined to
make him be a nigger."{Intruder, 18). The Negro community also resents
Lucass arrogance in refusing his position in the hierarchy. Aleck Sander
expresses this sentiment when he says, Its the ones like Lucas makes
trouble for everybody(//7fn/t/ comes to understand, are the ones who act not black nor white either, not
arrogant at all and not even scornful: just intolerant inflexible and
composed!Intruder, 13). This ambiguous, unclassifiable behavior incites
the citizens of Yoknapatawpha all the more as they insist on imposing the
nigger label upon Lucas. Gavin too is aware of the communitys
resentment, and he reminds the prisoner, "if you just said mister to white
people and said it like you meant it, you might not be sitting here
now "{Intruder, 60).
Yet Lucas still specifically requests Gavin Stevens to aid in his
defense. He does this despite the fact it is foreseeable that Gavin may do
more to hurt Lucas's plight than he will to help. Lucas calls upon Gavin
53


because this lawyer has a convincing way w ith words. Not only are
attorneys respected professionals who are often looked to for guidance and
leadership, the good ones also have a gift of rhetorical persuasion. This
fact was not lost on Lucas, but more poignantly, it was not lost on
Faulkner, who intentionally and deliberately uses the lawyer figure in this
novel to elucidate precepts of the southern code. Litigation, after all, is in
and of itself a verbal activity that occurs when disputes are argued via
narrative for an audience. Gavin has the power to influence and
manipulate people to reorder reality the way he believes it should be.
Whenever Gavin sets upon weaving a tale, the reader observes along with
Chick Mallison the way the other characters become absorbed in listening
to and believing Gavin's stories. Gavin is often depicted as speaking
through a cloud of enchanting smoke emanating from his omnipresent
tobacco pipe, talking not just through the smoke but into it and with
it "(Intruder, 217). Evidence of Gavins persuasive skill is depicted in the
way the rhetoricians audience blinks and stares while entranced by his
stories. Chick observes how when Gavin speaks in his rapid, condensed
and succinct manner, his listeners watch him in a sort of hypnotic state,
their little hard eyes go Hick, flick, slick . then back to his uncle again,
staring at his uncle for almost a quarter of a minute without even
blinking(//7/tm/er, 107).
54


Gavins gift of rhetoric becomes problematic when the reader
understands he promulgates the southern code in this way. For example,
when Chick warns Gavin to suppose what might happen if the mob gets
Lucas in the jail, Gavin responds, Suppose it then. Lucas should have
thought of that before he shot a white man in the back(Intruder, 79). This
response does not sit well with Chick, who presses Gavin further
regarding the safety of Lucas in the jail. In response, Gavin offers, If
anything was going to happen, they would have done it out there, at home,
in their own back yard; they would never have let Mr. Hampton [the
sheriff] get to town with him. In fact 1 still dont understand why they
did'XIntruder, 80). Clearly, Gavin is not a staunch defender of Lucass
right to a legal trial, and he unmistakably identifies his position on the
southern code his when he tells Chick:
We (I mean all of us: Beat Four w ill be unable to sleep at
night until it has cancelled Lucas Beauchamp ((or someone
else)) against Vinson Gowrie in the same color of ink, and
Beat One and Two and Three and Five wdio on heatless
principle intend to see that Beat Four makes that
cancellation) dont know why it is valuable. We dont need
to know. Only a few of us know that only from
homogeneity comes anything of a people or for a people of
durable and lasting value...Someday Lucas Beauchamp can
shoot a white man in the back with the same impunity to
lynch-rope or gasoline as a w hite man; in time he will vote
anywhen and anywhere a white man can and send his
children to the same school anywhere the white mans
children go and travel anywhere the white man travels as
55


the white man does it. But it wont be next Tuesday
(Intruder, 151-152).
Gavin may believe that the South will eventually solve its southern code
issues of race and class, but it will take a long time. As for now, Gavin
uses his speech to order his universe, allotting characters and events into
their proper sphere according to the southern code he espouses.
As a youthful protege to Gavin Stevens, Chick has been the
recipient of Gavin's ideology throughout his entire life. A nephew of the
lawyer, Chick is a constant companion to Gavin and looks up to the man
with respect and admiration. Throughout his young life Chick has
accepted at face value the stories that his uncle would tell. Chick is
conspicuously bereft of a father in the novel, and Gavin has assumed the
role of paternal guide and counselor for the teenager. Still, young Chick is
perhaps unaware of the true depth of his own observation when he notes,
you really were the sum of your ancestryX/n/n/dbr, 95). The sum of
ancestry, Schreiber writes, means that Chick inherits generations of a
social hierarchy that separates black from white and prohibits any
informal, easy relationship between the races. For white Yoknapatawpha
County, blacks remain inferior and suspect, vulnerable to the whims of
white power structures(Schreiber, Evelyn Jaffe, A Gathering of Evidence:
Essays on William Faulkners Intruder in the Dust, 251).After climbing to
56


the top of a plateau in a vehicle driven by his Uncle Gavin, Chick Malison
looks out over the earth below:
Now he seemed to see his whole native land, his home
the dirt, the earth which had bred his bones and those of his
fathers for six generations and was still shaping him into
not just a man but a specific man, not with just a mans
passions and aspirations and beliefs but the specific
passions and hopes and convictions and ways of thinking
and acting of a specific kind and even race: and even more:
even among a kind and race specific and unique...
(Intruder, 148).
Chick is a malleable young man, and without some sort of intervention he
will inevitably be shaped by the southern code as he grows into an adult.
Though Gavin has adopted the southern code and will not escape
its ideology, Chick has not yet made it his own. Chick observes the code,
and watches those close to him profess the code, but his world-view has
not yet been overtaken by it. Faulkner uses a color metaphor involving
black coffee and white sugar and milk to illustrate Chick's difficulty in
accepting the southern code. Chick struggles to consume his beverage
when he sits to drink coffee with his family the morning after discovering
Montgomery in Vinson Gowries grave. There is something wrong with
the drink that he cant quite put a finger on. Still he forces himself to,
drink the [black] coffee which ... he didn't like and didnt want but not
enough for him to . not drink it: tasting sipping then adding more
[white] sugar to it until eachcoffee and sugarceased to be either and
57


became a sickish quinine sweet amalgam of the worst of both "{Intruder,
126). He tries to blend black and white in his coffee cup and consume the
sum yet it is just not right. Uncle Gavin, who downs his blended coffee
with ease, notices the ado and yells at his nephew, Damnit, stop
(Intruder, 126). Gavin then goes to the kitchen where he brings a
soup bowl and dump[s] the coffee into the bowl and pour[s] the hot
[white] milk into it ..."(Intruder, 126). Gavin's solution to make the drink
well, similar to his southern code ideology, is to dominate the black by
making the white more powerful. Chick stares for a moment at his
beverage until Gavin yells at him, Go on. Forget about it. Just drink it
(Intruder, 126). Chick may not like it, but Gavin instructs him to just
accept it, and go on.
Of course. Chick still has yet to "go on" to accept the southern
code. Yet when Lucas Beauchamp w inds up in jail and Chick is a direct
witnesses to Lawyer Stevens' interaction with the black accused murderer,
he is forced to confront this decision head on. Either he gets on board with
the southern code espoused by his mentor (and thereby refuse to listen to
Lucas when he asks Chick to dig up the grave of a white man allegedly
murdered by a black man), or he must take a stand against the southern
code and do what he believes is necessary to exculpate this wrongly
charged black man. Frustrated that his uncle does not take action to expose
58


Lucas's innocence, Chick searches for the source of the attorney's
intractable position. He investigates the language used by Gavin, and he
marveled...at the paucity, the really almost standardized meagerness...of
Vocabulary itself, by means of which even man can live in vast droves and
herds even in concrete warrens in comparative amity: even his uncle
too "(Intruder, 79). Gavins words convince Chick that Gavin and the
southern code cannot and will not bring justice to Lucas. This youth, who
still can and does think outside the southern code, requires an additional
catalyst to push him away from the ideology of the southern code
promulgated by Gavin and reveal to him an alternate route to justice.
Chick needs the help of an outsider, an "other": a woman, and an
unmarried one, who by not being a member of the patriarchal structure
that wields power, remains outside it.
Ms. Habersham, a kinless spinster of seventy, exists on the
fringes of society in Yoknapatawpha. Despite having a name that is the
oldest which remained in the county," she has been rendered powerless
after being cast aside by society (Intruder, 75). Being a septuagenarian
without any spouse, children, or kin can have the effect of pushing one out
of the social fold. Remarkably, being an outcast from society has also
removed her from the clutches of the southern code. As a kinless spinster,
she has no motive to retain a code that disenfranchises those who are not
59


white and powerful. This has the predictable effect of rendering her
invisible to society: people ignore her. The first time the reader encounters
Ms. Habersham she is speaking with a muffled voice behind closed doors
with Gavin in his home. Excited with the potentially exculpatory
information he has just received from Lucas, Chick rudely throws the door
open and interrupts the meeting, exclaiming [ejxcuse me. I've got to
speak to Uncle Gavin: Uncle Gavin(Intruder, 76). Gavin cuts him off
quickly, and with an unmistakable tone reminds Chick that, so is Miss
Habersham(7/7/rz/der, 76). Chick does not heed Gavins rebuff, and
continues to speak because he had already forgotten Miss. Habersham,
even her presenc^(Intruder, 77). Even after he finishes his brief
conversation with Gavin, Chick again had forgotten Miss Habersham.
He had dismissed her; he had said Excuse me and so evanished her not
only from the room but the moment too as the magician with one word or
gesture disappears the palm tree"(Intmder, 77).
Ironically, the person Chick most needs to speak with is right in
front of him and he does not notice her. He needs a guide to help him: he
has received important information from Lucas which could set the man
free, but he is also well aware of the inadequacies of the southern code in
achieving justice for an accused black man. While Gavintrapped within
the southern codealready believes Lucas is guilty and only seeks to get
60


him a fair trial, Chick believes in Lucass innocence. But his youth is a
handicap, and he needs the confidence an adult can instill. Further, he
desperately requires moral counseling that goes beyond the tenets of the
southern code. Such a remarkable feat requires a special character, and
Faulkner gives Ms. Habersham the features appropriate of such a
character. Symbolically, she is adorned with a glimmering golden heart,
which she literally wears on her blouse sleeve. It is a watchsmall gold
in a hunting case suspended by a gold brooch on her flat bosom almost
like and in almost the same position as the heart sewn on the breast of a
canvas fencing vest "(Intruder, 75). The woman with a golden heart is the
guide Chick needs to lead him beyond the southern code.
There in the darkness outside of lawyer Stevens' home, Faulkner
finally brings Habersham and Chick together. Ms. Habersham seems to
manifest before Chick such that, "at first he thought it was his uncle
coming rapidly around the house.. .because he no longer remembered
anyone else available for it to have been "(Intruder, 86). The figure draws
closer, becoming visible as she calls his name, "'Charles:' in that tense
urgent whispQr'XIntruder, 86). Chick hears her, then finally sees her, and
when he speaks to her and reveals his discussions with Lucas, he discovers
she is very different from others he knows. She had tried to persuade
Gavin to further investigate Lucas's case rather than seek a plea deal, but
61


Gavin doesn't listen to her. Comprehending the inadequacies of Gavins
southern code to proffer justice for Lucas, the aged woman explains to
Chick:
Naturally he [Lucas] wouldnt tell your uncle. He's a Negro
and your uncles a man . Lucas knew it would take a
childor an old woman like me: someone not concerned
with probability, with evidence. Men like your uncle...have
had to be men too long, busy too long (Intruder, 88).
Habersham understands and communicates to Chick that Lucas had to find
someone like them in order to save himself from vigilantes intent on
destroying the black man who had allegedly shot a white man in the back.
Only an outcast spinster and teenagers would heed Lucass request to
violate the grave of a white man in order to save a nigger murderer
from its vengeance(//7/rn<:/6T, 93). White men operating under the
southern code (like Gavin Stevens, for example) would never take this
step to dishonor a white man in such a way in order to save a black man
from an alleged crime. Habersham is similar to Chick in that they both
understand the southern code will operate to thwart legal justice for Lucas
unless they take action. However, because Habersham had been invisible
to Chick, this young man "only later...would realise his uncle was
speaking to Miss Habersham too, when, regarding lynch mobs. Gavin
62


had said, Lucas should have thought of that before he shot a white man in
the bac\C'(Intruder, 79).
Carl Dimitri further describes the significance of Habershams
observations about the exchanges (or lack thereof) between Gavin and
Lucas by noting that being a man, or being busy too long implies that
white men are preoccupied with maintaining power and order(Dimitri,
Carl, The Faulkner Journal, 20). Dimitri is spot on: white men have had
been preoccupied with maintaining power under the southern code rather
than promoting legal justice under the law. When the focus is on
enforcing racial and classist precepts rather than the law, truth and justice
can be missed or become secondary considerations. White men at the top
of the social hierarchy in the southern code invest their time in working
within and affirming the rules established by a thoroughly racist
order(Dimitri, 20). Within this order, of course, Lucas is damned to be
the victim of a mob lynching or, if he escapes the mob, a lifetime in prison
under a plea deal.
Chick understands that this is fundamentally wrong. Pondering the
words of his new guide, Chick notes, what Miss Habersham paraphrased
was simple truth, not even fact and so there was not needed a great deal of
diversification and originality to express it because truth was
un\\'QYsa\"(Intruder, 88). With fortitude and leadership from Habersham,
63


the pair set off to investigate Lucas's request which will prove his
innocence (and thereby defy the southern code which assumes his guilt),
even as Chick realizes they have irrevocably accepted a gambit they are
not at all certain they can cope with: only that they will resist it "(Intruder,
87). Ms. Habersham's actions in guiding Chick to defy the southern
codea code belonging to "they" who will resistcannot be missed. She
drives in her produce truck to Vinson Gowrie's grave with Chick and his
teenage Negro friend, Aleck Sander. Then, as Chick and Aleck bore into
the soil to retrieve the body of a dead man, Ms. Habersham stands above
the two teenagers, one white and one black, supervising, directing, and
legitimizing their actions. When the three discover an empty coffin and
realize Vinson's body has been removed in an effort to hide evidence that
would exculpate a black man, the gravity and force of the southern code
becomes apparent in a very tangible way. Lorie Fulton observes that while
digging into the soil, Chick unearths something far more disturbing than
a dead body; he discovers the depth of Jeffersons ingrained racial
prejudices and realizes the lengths to which its citizens will go to maintain
their self-serving ideology of white supremacy'XFulton, Lorie Watkins,
The Southern Literary Journal, 66). Fulton correctly notes the existence of
the southern code, yet she fails to note the important symbolism of the
action. Chick's deliberate invasion into the southern soil, "the dirt, the
64


earth which had bred his bones and those of his fathers for six
generations... "{Intruder, 148) is a symbolic penetration of the southern
code. As he digs into the earth under the guidance and authorization of
Ms. Habersham, this "intruder in the dust" cracks the foundation of the
southern code and literally embarks on a ground-breaking journey that will
reveal a new' vision of social justice.
A powerful deterrent in this pursuit still remains in the character of
Gavin Stevens. If he is to escape the southern code, Chick must become
capable of resisting the spell of the code promulgated by his eloquent
uncle. Dimitri notes how one of Chicks challenges in his passage to
manhood and in his fight for liberty is to escape the immobilizing effect of
Stevens' lectures(Dimitri, 21). A more fitting term for Gavins lectures
would be paralyzing." Faulkner does not present characters who become
temporarily stuck in the code's ideology before they are later freed.
Citizens of Yoknapataw pha are locked in the code's paralysis, and Chick
is in danger of becoming a permanent disciple to the southern code.
Once again, Ms. Habersham intercedes to assist Chick at this
pivotal juncture. Contrary to all other characters in the novel, Ms.
Habersham does not fall under the hypnotic spell of Gavin Stevens when
he perpetuates the southern code with his enchanting rhetoric. Near the
end of the novel, Gavin, as usual, is speaking his thoughts, the words
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dancing off of his lips while he talk[s] through the pipe stem with the
smoke as though you were watching the words themselves,"{Intruder,
221) when suddenly Chick is distracted by something he had never
previously noticed. Chick breaks from Gavins hypnotic tale, a remarkable
occurrence in itself, and he watches Ms. Habersham recoil in response to
Gavin's discourse. Gavin is talking about the Gowrie murder when Chick
notices, there it was again and this time he knew what it was, Miss
Habersham had done something he didnt know what.. .something had
occurred, not something happened to her from the outside in but
something from the inside outward . and his uncle hadnt even
noXic^A"(Intruder, 222). Something coming from the inside outward from
the woman with a golden heart has caught the attention of Chick. He
continues watching Ms. Habersham until she suddenly interrupts Gavin,
interjecting [h]e [Crawford Gowrie] put him [Vinson Gowrie] in
quicksand. Gavin quickly replies, Ghastly wasnt it, before
immediately continuing with his tale, using his words to numb how
ghastly the fratricide really was. Gavin has no emotional reaction when he
speaks of the murder. Ms. Habersham is terribly disturbed by the tale; she
does not accept it as a simply fact and dismiss the emotional and immoral
aspects of the crime as easily as Gavin does. Chick notices her continue to
react irritably to Gavin's speech until she interrupts the lawyer a final
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time. With a calm and implacable finality, Habersham moves her hand
to the golden brooch at her bosom, and states [h]e put his brother in
quicksand ''{Intruder, 226).
Ms. Habersham speaks from a position separated from the racism
and classism endemic to the southern code. As Chick astutely noted on his
first meeting with her outside Gavin's office, she speaks consistently in a
"simple truth." The simple truth is that a man killed his own brother over a
matter involving timber, and then threw his brother into quicksand to
conceal the evidence. Gavin does not balk at these details. To him, the
Gowries are white trash: they don't matter under the southern code, their
travails and decrepit morality are of no consequence. To Habersham, the
Gowries are more than trash, they are human beings, and, regardless of
their class, such an act is an abomination, and a sin against nature which
cannot be dismissed. Importantly, as she constantly interrupts a man of
law and power and questions his perspective, Ms. Habersham
demonstrates that she is skeptical of Gavins southern code. Even more
importantly, she does this in the presence of Chick Mallison, who is also
forced to reexamine the words offered by his uncle. She is no longer
invisible to this young man, she hasnt been since she started working with
him, and Chick discovers the reality she inhabits outside of and contrary to
the southern code.
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Because he is exposed to the possibility of an alternative
explanation represented by Habersham, Chick becomes the hope for future
change in Yoknapatawpha. This boy has broadened his perspective to
include wider sympathies and a sharper ethical conscience. More
importantly, Chick Mallison changes into a character that has developed
the strength to challenge the beliefs advanced by the ruling elite, here
embodied in the character of Gavin Stevens. In the final chapters of the
novel Gavin is discussing the difference between killing a black man and
killing a sibling when Chick probes by asking, So for a lot of Cowries
and Workitts [white men] to bum Lucas Beauchamp to death with
gasoline for something he didnt even do is one thing but for a Gowrie to
murder his brother is another. Yes, his uncle said. You cant say that,
he [Chick] said '"{Intruder, 196). This is not a single outlying occurrence, it
becomes a trend, and it signals Chicks growth away from the ideology of
his uncle. It happens again later, when Gavin is offering another of his
lectures Chick interrupts him and avers, No. thats not trueJ\Intruder,
234). Gavin continues telling his tale when Chick again resolutely tells
Gavin, I still dont believe it (Intruder, 234). The gravity behind this
occurrence of Chick vocally disagreeing with his uncle should not be
dismissed. After he has witnessed Habersham's skepticism regarding
Gavins stories, Chick is emboldened to voice his own response to the
68


lawyer who puts his spin on reality. In doing so, Chick emerges at the end
of the novel far different from the young adolescent who listened to his
uncles stories and let them (and the code operating within) permeate his
mind. Gavin notices this change in Chick, and the elder encourages his
protege to just don't stop believing in a different code that is not laden
with the flaw's and biases of the code holding dominion in the South.
While Gavin comes to support Chick in his efforts to set Lucas free, Gavin
still remains inculcated with the ideology of the southern code. Still, after
witnessing the brazen actions taken against the southern code by Chick
and Habersham, he admits, maybe Im not too old to learn
Q\\hcr (Intruder, 124). Despite this, Gavin places his hope for the future in
his nephew, telling him, Its all right to be righteous, maybe you were
right and they were wrong. Just dont stop "(Intruder, 205). Just dont
stop becomes a mantra that Gavin repeats to Chick many times over. At
the conclusion of the novel, the lawyer lights his pipe and tells Chick:
you and Miss Habersham.. .did not only what nobody
expected you to but all Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha
County would have risen in active concord for once to
prevent you if they had known in time and even a year from
now some...will remember with disapproval and distaste
not that you were ghouls nor that you defied your
color...but that you violated a white grave to save a nigger
so you had every reason why you should have. Just dont
stop (Intruder, 236).
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Chick Mallison epitomizes Faulkner's hope for the next generation
in dealing with and moving beyond the southern code. This is illustrated in
a pivotal scene when Chick returns to the jail house alone to visit Lucas a
second time. Through his interaction with Lucas, the reader observes
Chick's denial of the reigning social hierarchy and its strict social borders.
When Chick calls to Lucas to come talk to him, the black man is seen,
approaching, taking hold of two of the bars as a child stands inside a
fenc^'(Intruder, 67). Then, remarkably, the narrator reveals how looking
down he saw his own hands holding to two of the bars, the two pairs of
hands, the black ones and the white ones, grasping the bars while they
faced one another above them: 'All right,' he said "{Intruder, 67). All right
indeed. Chick and Lucas at this moment are both reaching out towards the
other as their arms grasp the steel bars that separate them. These steel bars
remind us of a sturdy barrier that stands between the two races: a well
established bunker that distances the races within the southern code. This
image suggests that "both races are somehow unfree, both enslaved to a
condition devoid of brotherhood and justice"(Dimitri, 19); while black
people suffer from a literal oppression, Faulkner indicates the white
person, as a consequence of this oppression, "is jailed by his own guilt,
shame, and spiritual unease(Dimitri, 19). As they acknowledge each
other's struggle behind the prison bars. Chick and Lucas represent a new
70


relationship between the races. The two are ambassadors of a new
potential that goes beyond the southern code, whereby whites
acknowledge their debt to blacks for an era of racism under the southern
code, and they vow to personally pursue justice under the law.
Unlike both Sanctuary and Light in August, the narrative of
Intruder in the Dust does not end in tragedy. Legal justice is achieved, the
southern code does not destroy an accused black murderer, and Lucas is
set free. Though Lucas is never publicly exonerated in the novel and the
heroism of Chick, Aleck, and Ms. Habersham is not acknowledged, the
efforts of these characters reshape the beliefs of individuals located in and
beyond Yoknapatawpha. This personal reflection on beliefs held by the
individual, Faulkner believed, was a necessary prelude to challenging and
renegotiating the southern code. This occurrence was important enough
for Faulkner to recommend to his readers that, among all his novels, they
first read Intruder in the Dust, because it deals with the problem which is
most important not only in my country, but .. .important to all
people(Merriwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, Lion in the
Garden, 166). In constructing a polemic where the plight of a licit black
man permeates the conscience of an entire county, Faulkner suggests a
future where innocence will no longer be sacrificed for the sake of the
71


southern code. But, as we witnessed with the individual actions of Chick,
Habersham, and Lucas, it all must start with the individual.
By placing his characters in a setting suffering beneath the racist
and classist mores of a pervasive southern code, Faulkner offers a critique
on the proud South, its scourge of slavery and lingering caste system
which afflicts both blacks and poor whites, and its enduring
interconnectivity in race, class, and the law. Judge Drake enters as a
symbol of the power of the southern code that will not be challenged,
while his daughter, Temple Drake, discovers a world of depravity when
she is removed from the fetters of the southern codes paternal protection.
Weak legal idealists such as Horace Benbow demonstrate the fate reserved
for those who do not understand or respect the power of the code, while a
different attorney, Gavin Stevens, promulgates the southern code with his
enchanting speech. When Lee Goodwin and Joe Christmas are destroyed
by Percy Grimm and other vigilantes, Faulkner demonstrates the way
Southerners defied the law to maintain the racist and classist ideology of
their southern code. Still, Faulkner offers a hope for the future of the
South with Chick Mallison, Lucas Beauchamp, and Ms. Habersham, an
outcast old spinster who serves as a guide and alternative influence on
72


Chick. Ms. Habersham assists Chick, representative of the next
generation, in understanding the perversion of justice latent in the racist
southern code, and she guides him in escaping its dominion and towards a
pursuit of justice under the law. Due to their actions, an accused black
man is granted legal justice and freedom, and that public spectacle of
condemnation and racial subjugation once witnessed by a ten-year-old
William Faulkner in Oxforda lynchingis averted. In his now famous
Nobel Prize acceptance speech given in Stockholm in 1950, Faulkner
declared, I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is
immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible
voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and
sacrifice and endurance(Berland, 104). With this, we understand that
though his fiction paints a grim portrait of the southern code and its wrath
in the Southcomplete with its subversion of justice, its racial and classist
subjugation, and its destruction of innocent menFaulkner is clear in his
belief that through individual efforts to pursue enduring legal justice, the
South will escape the dominion of the southern code.
73


WORKS CITED
Baker, Ronald L. Ritualized Violence and Local Journalism in the
Development of a Lynching Legend. Falnila 29.3 (1988): 317-
325.
Berland, Alwyn. Light in August, a Study in Black and White. New York:
Twayne Publishers, 1965.
Dimitri, Carl. Go Down, Moses and Intruder in the Dust: Prom Negative
to Positive Liberty. The Faulkner Journal 19.1 (2003): 11-27.
Donaldson, Susan V. Light in August, Faulkner's Angels of History, and
the Culture of Jim Crow. In Faulkner's Inheritance: Faulkner and
Yoknapatawpha, 2005, edited by Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J.
Abadie, 101-123. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi. 2007.
Paulkner, William. Intruder in the Dust. New York: Vintage Books, 1948.
.......... Light in August. New York: Vintage Books, 1932.
......... Sanctuary. New York: Vintage Books, 1931.
Pulton, Lorie Watkins. Intruder in the Past. The Southern Literary
Journal 38.2 (2006): 64-73.
Gwynn, Frederick L., and Joseph L Blotner, eds. Faulkner in the
University. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1995.
Hale, Grace Elizabeth. Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in
the South, 1890-1940. New York: Vintage, 1999.
Harris. Trudier. Exorcising Blackness: Historical andLiteraiy Lynching
and Burning Rituals. Bloominton: Indiana UP, 1984.
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Howe, Irving. William Faulkner, A Critical Study. New York: Random
House, 1952.
Jackson, Chuck. American Emergencies: Whiteness, The National
Guard, and Light in August. The Faulkner Journal 22, 1-2 (Fall
2006/Spring 2007): 193-208.
Klotman, Phyllis R. Tearing a Hole in History: Lynching as Theme and
Motif. Black American Literature Forum 19.2 (1985): 55-63.
Lahey, Michael. Women and Law in Faulkner." Womens Studies 22
(1993): 517-524.
Merriwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, eds. Lion in the Garden:
Interviews with William Faulkner: 1926-1962. New York: Random
House, 1968.
Nelson, Lisa. Masculinity, Menace, and American Mythologies of Race
in Faulkners Anti-Heroes. The Faulkner Journal 19.2 (2004):
49-68.
Peavy, Charles D. Go Slow Now: Faulkner and the Race Question.
Eugene: University of Oregon Books, 1971.
Sassoubre, Ticien Marie. Avoiding Adjudication in William Faulkners
Go Down, Moses and Intruder in the Dust." Criticism 49.2 (2008):
183-214.
Schreiber, Evelyn Jaffe. The Sum of Your Ancestry: Cultural Context
and Intruder in the Dust." In A Gathering of Evidence: Essays on
William Faulkners Intruder in the Dust, edited by Michel Gresset
and Patrick Samway, 251-258. New York: Fordham University
Press, 2004.
Sugimori, Masami. Signifying, Ordering, and Containing the Chaos:
Whiteness, Ideology, and Language in Intruder in the Dust." The
Faulkner Journal (Fall 2006/Spring 2007): 54-73.
Tebbet. Terrell. Sanctuaiy, Marriage, and the Status of Women in 1920s
America. The Faulkner Journal 19.1 (2003): 47-60.
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Tolnay, Stewart E, and E.M. Beck. A Festival of Violence: An Analysis of
Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois
Press, 1995.
Vickery, Olga. Crime and Punishment: Sanctuaiy." In Faulkner, A
Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Robert Penn Warren, 127-
136. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Warren, Robert Penn, ed. Faulkner, A Collection of Critical Essays.
Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966.
Watson, Jay. Forensic Fictions. Athens: University of Georgia Press,
1993.
Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern Histoiy. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1993.
......... A Rage for Order: Black/White Relations in the American South
Since Emancipation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Woodward, C. Vann. Origins of the New South, 1877-1913. New Orleans:
Louisiana State University Press, 1951.
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Full Text

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A SOUTHERN CODE OF INJUSTICE IN WILLIAM FAULKNER'S SOUTH by Jonathan James Faulkner B.A., University of Colorado, 2002 J.D., Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, 2009 A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts English 2011

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Jonathan James Faulkner All rights reserved

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This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by Jonathan James Faulkner has been approved by Date

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Faulkner Jonathan 1 (MA, English Literature) A Southern Code oflnjustice in William Faulkner's South Thesis directed by Associate Professor Colleen Donnelly ABSTRACT This thesis examines the way William Faulkner imbued his novels with the recurring theme of a southern code and demonstrated the destructive force of its racism and classism by way of lynch mobs and extra-judicial vigilante killings. By examining the novels Sanctuary Light in August, and Intruder in the Dust, I probe how Faulkner elucidates the southern code by demonstrating the way it subjugates black minorities and poor lower-class whites, operates to bring about their extra-judicial destruction, and trumps legislative law resulting in flagrant injustice and tragedy. The time period studied in this thesis is primarily the late nineteenth century through the early twentieth century, and the location is the American South. Data have been collected from academic journals, books, and from Faulkner's novels. By looking into the unique history of the South, I investigate how a hierarchical system of community values was born out of the institution of slavery While these values were neither ratified by state legislatures nor codified in any statutes they were promulgated throughout southern communities as a means to maintain white power structures long after the Emancipation Proclamation Being beyond the reach of the codified law the southern code was enforced by vigilante lynch mobs who reacted against a perceived threat to the southern hierarchical order. I investigate how Faulkner's characters lived by this southern code and how the author employed the code to demonstrate its tragic consequences. Additionally, this thesis examines how Faulkner believed his literature might lead to social change, and how this theme pertains to his optimistic hope for the South's future race and class relations This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication. Signed Colleen Donnelly

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DEDICATION I dedicate this thesis to my parents, who were never too busy or tired to help their sons with their myriad school projects and homework assignments (and made sure they finished them), and whose patience and fortitude in encouraging the learning of their children nurtured a genuine respect for knowledge-a gift that I cannot possibly value in words. Thank you, Mom and Dad, you continually inspire me to earn the honor of my name

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT My thanks to m y advisor, Colleen Donnelly for her contribution s upport and patience as I developed the ideas and r esea rch behind thi s thesis. I also wish to thank all the members of my committee for their valuable participation and insights.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION ............................................. I 2. ANALYSIS OF THE TEXT ................................. 16 WORKS CITED ...................... .. .. ............................... 74 VI

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CHAPTER l INTRODUCTION When William Faulkner was a ten year old boy a black man named Nelse Patton was lynched in Faulkner's hometown of Oxford, Mississippi. A young William Faulkner very likely witnessed the lynching as his childhood home was merely blocks from the Oxford jail (Sassoubre, Ticien Marie, Criticism, 184). One can only imagine the impression such a horrific scene might leave on a young boy as well as his thoughts on what could possibly motivate this action What young Faulkner likely could not determine at the time was that the lynching of Nelse Patton was not authorized by any codified law Rather this lynching was the result of a well developed system of unwritten regional values which incited the local people The community based system of values which the lynch mob organized around is an ideology unique to the South, and I will hereafter refer to this structure of beliefs as the southern code. Rooted in the institution of s lavery the southern code is an unwritten ideology which operates to maintain white power structures '"' hile subjugating black minoritie s and lower-class 'vhites Undoubtedly a

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product of his own southern upbringing, Faulkner set his characters within his created southern county of Y oknapatawpha where they are trapped within the southern code's racist and classist social mores. With his novels Sanctum y ( 1931 ). Light in August ( 1932), and Intruder in the Dust ( 1948), Faulkner elucidates the southern code by demonstrating the way it subjugates blacks and poor whites operates to bring about their extra judicial destruction, and trumps legislative law resulting in flagrant injustice and tragedy. While it is difficult to pinpoint the place in time at which a particular ideology first arises we can be certain that the southern code existed in southern society during the entirety of William Faulkner s lifetime ( 1897 1962) The southern code necessarily relies on distinguishing between different groups of people and separating them into different classes and this distinction certainly existed in the South from the earliest days of the slave trade. By most accounts the first major establishments of African slavery in the South occurred in the middle of the seventeenth century. One objective indicator which can be used to measure the duration of the southern code is the existence of organized groups that espoused substantially similar tenets to the southern code such as the Ku Klux Klan. Founded on the notion of white supremacy membership in the Klan first began in the South in 1865. Though the 2

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organization does not have the same level of support it did in its heyday (the organization claiming between 4 and 5 million men as members in the mid 1920s), it continues to exist to this day The southern code finds its genesis in the institution of slavery. The antebellum South was a predominantly agrarian society, and it depended on slave labor to harvest and maintain the vast tracts of property held by white landowners. As one group of people enslaved another, the lower group was necessarily forced to occupy a subservient position of social class. The ruling slave owners perched at the top ofthis hierarchy, were empowered to organize society and its social rules. Proper decorum under these social rules mandated that black slaves act subservient to all whites. In this way the institution of slavery developed into a cast system which lingered even after emancipation. This classist society which existed well before the Emancipation Proclamation was based on more than just racism. Powerful white landowners and their families who owned vast tracts of land worked by scores of slaves occupied a higher class in society than those owners who could afford fewer slaves and less land Thus a social gulf grew between those who could afford a great number of slaves and those poor whites that could not, and this resulted in the poor whites also being slotted into a lower class in the social hierarchy. This lower class of whites, composed 3

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of those who had to perfonn their own labor, were slotted below rich upper-class whites in the social hierarchy. Black slaves, of course, were owned property, and occupied the lowest rung of the class ladder below all whites With emancipation and the subsequent collapse of the South's agrarian economy, both blacks as well as a growing class of poor whites (who joined free blacks in laboring for rich white owners for compensation), would continue to be slotted in this particular class system. Peavy observes, "A peculiar aspect of the institution of slavery in the South was that it developed the idea of class and caste among the slaves and a corresponding resentment among the non-slave holding poor whites''( Peavy Charles D., Go Slow Now: Faulkner and the Race Question 18). This class system is a key component of the southern code. Under its influence blacks and poor whites were subjugated by the powerful white elite at the top of the hierarchy The hierarchical system ofthe southern code led to a society in which acceptance of the inferior social position of the Negro as well as poor whites was generally understood and accepted. Notably, the tenets embodied in the southern code were not passed by the legislature and were not written down in state statutes: the southern code was not a codified system of laws. Rather, this southern code was transmitted and promulgated orally. It was latent in conversations people had in town, and 4

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was observed in the way whites and blacks were expected to behave and be treated Blacks and lower-class whites (given the demeaning title of white trash") were expected to be subservient and were thought of as simple and childish, while upper-class whites were dignified and proper. Due in part to the fact that the southem code was not written down, it became an ideology unique to the South and its peculiar history, distinct and separate from other geographic locations and times. Due to its raci s t and classist nature, the southem code served to advance injustice and resulted in the subversion of federal and state law. The southern code is separate and distinguished from the codified law which is written, authoritative and applicable not only to a distinct southern community, but to the diverse nation or state as a whole. Before we further investigate the distinction between the southern code and the codified law we must first discuss the existence and purpose of state and federal law. As the grandson, nephew and older brother of a lawyer William Faulkner well understood the importance of federal and state law in a society. With his upbringing Faulkner not only came of age in a regional society that exalted the legal vocation," but was "remarkably sensitive to the role played by the law in the articulation of that society's nom1s, codes and boundaries (Watson, Jay Forensic Fictions, 6) As a resident of Mississippi, Faulkner undoubtedly understood that official Mississippi 5

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laws came from two authoritative sources: the federal government and the state legislature. The United States Constitution, which is the prevailing law of the land, guarantees to all American people-including alleged criminals-the rights contained in the Sixth Amendment. These rights include the right of accused criminals to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, and to be infonned of the nature and cause of the accusation ; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor; and to have assistance of counsel for his defense. Further the Supreme Court applied the protections of this amendment to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits state and local governments from depriving persons of life liberty, or property without certain steps being taken to ensure fairness For matters pe1taining to the state, rather than the Federal Government, the criminal laws of the state are applicable. The criminal laws for the state of Mississippi are contained in a digest of statutes that define conduct that is prohibited by the state because it is held to threaten, hann, or endanger the safety and welfare of the public. Criminal law is enforced by the state, and it contains punishments to be imposed on those who break the laws. The laws themselves are determined by legislators 6

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who are democratically elected by the people who reside in the state and appropriate jurisdiction. These legislators work together to draft and amend laws Once the legislature detennines laws, they are codified and published to the public such that all people may be on notice of the applicable Jaws. In this way the laws are authoritative, applicable to all people within the jurisdiction. Mississippi's first book of statutes was published in 1799, and was "declared" to be the law of Mississippi Territory by Winthrop Sargent, who at the time was Governor of the Territory. The 1799 Mississippi Code was subsequently amended when Mississippi was granted statehood (1817), and was then redrafted numerous times as Mississippi continually updated its statutes. In fact, the present Mississippi Code Annotated ( 1972), which contains the statutes that are used in Mississippi today, is the seventeenth official Mississippi Code. The US Constitution and the Mississippi code do not have separate provisions for race or class, and are meant to apply equally to all citizens, regardless of their particular race, class or gender. These codified laws were not good enough for those wishing to preserve the racist and classist ideals of southern society. Thus, emboldened by a community which tacitly accepted the southern code, men acted in defiance of the law to enforce the southern code in their society. This defiance of the law only 7

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became stronger after the South suffered a crushing defeat in the Civil War and was forced to accept and recognize the Thirteenth Amendment (which officially abolished slavery) as a condition of reentry into the Union. Arguably, this Amendment legally sanctioned the destruction of the South's plantation economy because it freed the slave labor Southerners depended upon. Howe points out succinctly that the social hierarchy of southern society became threatened as "the agrarian economy was being pierced by salients of industrial urbanism," the most prominent threats being the sudden absence of cheap labor to work the land and the burning of much of the fertile crop land by the North (Howe, Irving, William F au Ikn er. A Critical Stud_y, 11-12). In response to the agricultural depression that threatened the South's hierarchy of white land owners and dependent black labor the institution of sharecropping arose which "reproduced the traditional southern racial hierarchy in the form of dependent black labor bound to specific plots of white-owned land"(Sassoubre, 188) Additionally, Jim Crow laws were created which preserved the social hierarchy while realigning official law and southern custom '"through the legal enforcement of segregation in public spaces, employment, housing, and the systematic disenfranchisement of blacks through poll taxes, property requirements, and literacy tests"(Woodward, C. Yann, Origins o(the New 8

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South 1877-1913 71). Southern legislators who were, "frightened by the prospect of New negroes who didn t stay in their place ," found a security in Jim Crow laws which "ensure[d] social, political, and economical subordination of blacks in every facet of daily life"(Donaldson, Susan V., Faulkner's inheritance : F au Ikner and Yoknapatmtpha, I 07). These laws effectively maintained the hierarchy already established within the community by mandating de jure racial segregation in all public facilities. This inevitably led to facilities for blacks that were inferior to those provided for whites. When the Federal Government overturned Jim Crow laws with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which outlawed major fonns of discrimination against blacks) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (which outlawed discriminatory voting policies), the South understood that if the racist and classist mores of southern code were to be maintained, it would have to be enforced outside of the law. Southerners who observed the structures of the southern code could not rely on the law to achieve the "justice" they desired, and so the men in a community organized into groups with the purpose of executing their ovm vigilante "justice ." Vigilantes thus took it upon themselves to enforce the southern code which would subjugate black people and white trash back to the bottom of the social ladder where the southern code deemed they belonged. The southern code was 9

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maintained and enforced by vigilantes most noticeably through the terror of mob lynching. Tolnay and Beck note "historically, southern racial and economic order had been expressed through the culture of lynching, which effectively intimidated black labor and reinforced the power and status of white owners"(Tolnay, Stewart E, and E.M. Beck, A Festiml of' Viol e nce: An AnaZvsis ofSouthem Lynchings, 1882-1930, 19). There are different theories regarding the primary motivation behind a lynching. For example, Ronald Baker observes : In oral legends as well as in written literature and ritualized violence the primary motivation for the lynching of a black man is the alleged rape of a white woman or violation of some social taboo concerning the relations of a black man and white woman, and the emotional stimulation of the lynching mob is the protection of white womanhood"(Baker, Ronald L., F abula, 318). Baker fails to note, however, that there is more to the phenomena of lynching than simply protecting white women and property. In the South, "lynching was deeply tied to the maintenance of a racial hierarchy and control of black labor''(Tolnay and Beck, 18). In fact, a lynching is the racially and classist motivated extra-judicial destruction of another person. It is not codified in the law and is thus never officially sanctioned by the government. Most frequently lynchings were pcrfonned by the method of hanging, but it was also common to burn victims doused in gasoline. Lynchings were public, perfonned by white members of the community, 10

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and were intended to serve as a visual lesson and warning to others, especially blacks, who might push against the white power structure. In this way, the spectacle of lynching publicly resolved any race, gender, and class ambiguities by "brutally conjuring a collective, all powerful whiteness"(Hale, Grace Elizabeth Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in the South, 1890-1940, 203 ). Lynching thus became a visible expression of defiance of the law and the persistent existence of the wrath of the southern code. The violence of lynching carried out by vigilantes was further justified in part by what was perceived to be a growing threat to law and order by a "new" Negro, who, once free of the fetters of slavery, would regress to a natural state of savagery and bestiality. This threat was exacerbated by a growing number of alleged sexual assaults on white women perpetrated by black men. Williamson describes how "the single most significant and awful manifestation of black retrogression was a [perceived] increasing frequency of sexual assaults on white women ... by black men"(Williamson, Joel, A Ragefor Order: Black / White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation, 71 ). This myth was broadcast by popular and professional sources. Phillip Alexander Bruce, editor of the prestigious Virginia journal of history, published an article in the New York Evening Post in which he noted, "there is something strangely 11

PAGE 19

alluring and seductive to them [blacks] in the appearance of a white woman ... it moves them [blacks] to gratify their lust at any cost and in spite of every obstacle"(Williamson, Rage, 88). The widespread dissemination of this myth served to embolden vigilantes while justifying their enforcement of the southern code. Another expert oft quoted was a statistician for the Prudential Insurance Company of America named Frederick L. Hoffman. When the respected American Economic Association published his study, Race Traits and Tendencies of the American Negro, in 1 896, the public read how during slavery, "the negro committed fewer crimes than the white man, and only on rare occasions was he guilty of the more atrocious crimes, such as rape and murder of white females"(Williamson, Rage, 89). Yet Hoffman then asserted that in the 1890s crime was increasing at an alanning rate, and so he reasoned, "the rate of increase in lynching may be accepted as representing fairly the increasing tendency of colored men to commit this most frightful of all crimes [rape]"(Williamson, Rage, 89). Due to the widespread dissemination of the writings of popular critics such as Bruce and Hoffman, racist radicalism was mainstream in the south by the turn of the twentieth century, and the lynching of black men by white Southerners occurred at an alanning rate. Few studies have been attempted to measure the rate of occurrence of lynchings in the 12

PAGE 20

South. In one, Trudier HatTis notes that '"between 1882 and 192 7, an estimated 4,951 persons were lynched," and of that number, "3513 were black''(Harris, Trudier, Exorcising Blackness: Historical and Litermy Lynching and Burning Rituals, 7) In a separate study, Frank Shay listed 5 112 victims of lynching from 1882 through 1937, more than four-fifths of\vhom were black (Kiotman Phyllis R, Black Am e rican Literature Forum, 55). The violence carried out by vigilantes also received support from the community as represented by elected officials. In Mississippi, for example, extra-judicial violence was supported by the state s elected Governor from 1904-1908, James K. Vardaman, who argued that blacks were increasingly criminal and blamed this increase on the aspirations of blacks to social equality (Williamson, Faulkner, 157) With this perceived support from the community, offered as opinions by different writers in the media as well as through the words of public officials, vigilantes were steadfast in defying the law to enforce the southern code. This thesis aims to probe the way Faulkner imbued his novels with the recurring theme of a southern code and demonstrated the destructive force of its racism and classism by way of lynch mobs and extra-judicial vigilante killings. Alwyn Bemland note s how Faulkner evaluated human behavior by continually examining the codes by which his characters live He observes how one of Faulkner's recutTing themes is "that human 13

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beings must live by some code-some value system or structure of belief''(Berland, Alwyn, Ligh1 in August. A Study in Black and White, 83). By conducting a close reading of Faulkner's texts against the southern code, I will investigate how Faulkner's characters lived by a so uthern code, and how the author employed the code to demonstrate its tragic consequences Additionally, this analysis will investigate why Faulkner wrote about the southern code, how he belie ve d his literature might lead to social change, and how this theme pertains to his optimistic hope for the South's future race and class relations. Faulkner reveals the s outhern code saliently in San ct umy, Li g ht in A ugu sl, and Intruder in !he Dust, and he elucidates the code and presents a portrait of its flaws by way of complex and nuanced characters. Additionally, the logic behind the ritualized reassertion of the southern code through violence is a recurring theme. Faulkner first draws attention to the so uthern code by por1raying its destruction of a poor white man without effective legal recour se in Sanctum:\'. Lee Goodwin, a white trash character of low soci a l class, is killed in a bon-fire by a mob of vigilantes who believe he raped a young upper-class white debutante. Then, with Light in August, publi s hed one year l a ter Faulkner describes the southern code's seemingly fated annihilation of Joe Christmas, a lower-class drifter who is rumored to have been fathered by a black man. After he allegedly 14

PAGE 22

sleeps with and murders a white woman, this black'' man is shot and killed by a racist vigilante. Finally, Faulkner offers a very different story of the southern code with Intrud e r in the Dust, published a full sixteen years after Sanctuary, in which Lucas Beauchamp a black man is hunted by an extra-judicial mob which seeks to lynch him for allegedly murdering a white man. Remarkably, Mr. Beauchamp achieves freedom despite the southern code. While Faulkner identifies the southern code and portrays it as prevalent, powerfuL and even fated in his earlier novels the author suggests with his later-written novel Intruder in the Du s t an oppmiunity to rise above and move beyond the southern code. The South, Faulkner believed must act on its own accord to address the pervasive wrath of the southern code Before we discuss Faulkner's vision for the way the South may accomplish this, howeYer let us first observe the southern code in action and the way it poisons F aulkner's southern world. 15

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CHAPTER 2 ANAL YSJS OF THE TEXT Sanctuary SanctuGiy opens with a traveler, Horace Benbow as he wanders along dusty southern roads into Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha County. Over the course of the novel, he v.. ill journey across the South's social and legal landscape in a quest for justice. Horace is not just any traveler, he is an educated passionate man who was raised in Yoknapatawpha by an upper class family of respectability. Though he was born in the city of Jefferson he moved out of the city to live with his \vife and her daughter. Horace is a lawyer, and he ascribes to the belief that the fairness and power of law will triumph over the southern code. Horace sees the law as a solution and means of delivering justice, a belief which is demonstrated in his posed solution to the problem of drunken philandering. Holding the beliefthat laws will move people to behave in accordance with virtue and decency, Horace rationalizes that in an ideal society he could, "have a law passed making it obligatory upon everyone to shoot any man less than fifty years 16

PAGE 24

old that makes, buys, sells or thinks whisky"(Faulkner, William, Sanctuary, 166)[hereafter Sanctuary]. As Horace discovers the injustice ofthe southern code proves to be most formidable. As a lawyer, a professional who inhabits the upper class in society, Horace Benbow has potential for promoting justice and morality, based on the law. upon the landscape of Yoknapatawpha. Yet it is evident early on that Horace perceives justice differently than the other characters he encounters in Yoknapatawpha. Horace takes up the defense of alleged murderer Lee Goodwin, a lower-class white man, whom the people of Yoknapatawpha are prepared to lynch without a trial. Other characters in the county, being under the influence of the southem code, do not adhere to the rule of law (including due process and constitutional rights for all people) that this attorney embraces, and Horace becomes the target of considerable backlash for his unpopular support of white trash Goodwin. Beleaguered by citizens ofYoknapatawpha (and his sister, most saliently) Horace exclaims, "cant you see that perhaps a man might do something just because he knew it was right, necessary to the hannony of things that it be doneT(Sanclum}, 275) He is met \vith a response from characters firn1ly entrenched in the southern code, who merely shake their heads and respond, "he's crazy," and can't help but comment, "(t]he fool. .. the poor fooi"(Sa11ctuan;, 15, 16). 17

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What makes Horace so "crazy," according to his peers, is that his defense of lower-class Lee Goodwin runs directly contrary to the mores of the southern code. White trash do not deserve due process of law, and Horace is thought a fool for wasting his time on Goodwin's defense. What's even more outlandish is the fact that Horace believes he may exculpate his client. Even Lee Goodwin his client, believes he is doomed regardless of any legal defense Horace might provide him. A poor bootlegger who lives in a house described as a "gutted ruin rising gaunt and stark out of a grove of unpruned cedar trees"(San c tuary, 8), Goodwin understands the grim fate reserved for such a man of low status in the southern code. When asked what he wants with a lawyer, Goodwin responds, "just promise to get [my] kid a good newspaper grift when he's big enough to make change"(Sanctumy, 116). Undeterred, Horace remains steadfast in his faith in justice which will be obtained under Mississippi law. Horace roots his belief in the legal system in his spiritual faith: "God is foolish at times," he admits, "but at least He's a gentleman"(Sanctumy, 280). Still, events in Yoknapatawpha seem to surprise Horace in their degree of decrepit immorality. Temple Drake was not just given "a lift to town"(Sanctumy, 160) as Horace had assumed when she disappeared with the older man named Popeye: rather. she was sexually assaulted, kidnapped, and imprisoned by him in a 18

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Memphis brothel. Horace is fUJ1her shocked to reali ze that Ruby Lemar, Goodwin's wife, believes she will pay Horace for his legal services with sex, a fonn of cunency she has used before. Horace's bewildered surprise at Ruby's offer of her body for legal service is indicative of his flawed presumptions about the ''institution of law and its promises of equality, equity, and a chance at justice"(Lahey, MichaeL Wom en's Studies, 523). Confused by the fact that Horace looks perplexed Ruby tells the man "I thought that was \vhat you meanf'(Sanctuwy, 275), which prompts Horace to whisper, "Good God ... what kind of men have you known?"(Sanctuwy, 276). Horace glimpses the moral depravity and injustice latent in the southern code that is swarn1ing in Yoknapatawpha, but it is still darker and more pervasive than he could imagine Goodwin's murder trial offers precisely the oppm1unity Horace seeks to justify once and for all the potential of the law to triumph over the southern code and uphold justice. If no other place, Horace believes, truth and justice must be upheld in a court of law. He tells Ruby on the eve of the trial, "my soul has served an apprenticeship that has lasted for forty three years"(Sanctum:l, 280). Now, after forty-three years of life, Horace believes he has the dignified role of securing legal justice for his white trash client, even despite the southern code. Horace fully expects to demonstrate for the court and the entire county how justice, impartial and 19

PAGE 27

fair, will be the end result when the system of law is allowed to run its due course. A trial lawyer has the responsibility of using witnesses and evidence to persuade a jury to side with his client. In Sanctuary, Goodwin's acquittal rests on the ability of his trial attorney Mr. Benbow, to persuade the jury of Goodwin' s innocence by recreating for them the sequence of events that led to Tommy's murder. Benbow must then provide an alibi for Goodwin which removes him from culpability for the murder. Horace has only one witness, but it is a good one: Ruby was present at the murder scene the entire evening leading up to the morning on which Tommy was shot, and she can provide strong testimony regarding the credibility of Goodwin's alibi. In fact after Ruby testifies on the first day of trail, Horace is certain he has the case won. After coaching Ruby throughout the evening in preparation for a possible cross examination on the following day, Horace declares, "By noon he'll [Goodwin] walk out of there a free man: do you realize that?"(Sanctum:v, 280). If Horace is correct, then an innocent man will be acquitted before a jury of his peers, Horace's ideal of justice will prevail over a southern code which victimizes white trash, and all the citizens of Yoknapatawpha will bear witness to it. 20

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Faulkner casts a spotlight on the juggernaut that is the southern code by running this passionate man of law straight into its maw. Tragically, Horace discovers that his belief in justice and righteousness of the law have no power over people who hold intractably to a southern code. Everything in Benbow's idealist reality comes crashing down inside the solemn walls of the Jefferson cow1house where, ironically, Horace's nai've confidence in the efficacy of reason to secure justice inevitably leads to Horace's downfall and a flagrant miscarTiage ofjustice. The first surprise awaiting Horace is already sitting in the courtroom when Horace arrives. It is Temple Drake. the daughter of a judge, an upper class white man Like Ruby, she was also present at the scene of Tommy's murder, yet Horace had not believed she would be present to testify. None the less, Horace immediately understands she has the potential to exonerate Mr. Goodwin by offering testimony to explain the truth of how it was Popeye not Goodwin, who shot and killed Tommy. Horace cannot be aware ofthe machinations undertaken by other parties in this case (including an unnamed Jewish lawyer, the prosecutor on the case District Attorney Graham, and even Judge Drake) to find and remove the girl out of her Memphis dwelling. Additionally, Horace is perfectly nai've about Temple's relationship in Memphis with a man named Red her lover, and he cannot know how Red was also recently murdered. Horace thus has no 21

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clue about this young woman's state and the reason for her willingness to return to Yoknapatawpha. While it may be appropriate to blame Horace for failing to perform due diligence in this case, his failure to comprehend the unified effort unde11aken by these three other men of law (the Jewish lawyer, Graham, and Drake) to advance the southern code is understandable. As such, Horace is surprised a second time when Temple is called as the first witness and proceeds to offer false testimony that damns Goodwin. The District Attorney asks her questions relating not to the murder, but rather to the identity of a man who had raped her at the same location and near the same time that Tommy was found dead. Even as Temple lies and te s tifies that Goodwin raped her Benbow sits idly by and does nothing to disrupt the scene or object to the District Attorney's leading questions. At the very least, an able attorney would object to the District Attorney's questions on grounds of relevancy. This is a murder trial not a rape trial and the sexual abuse suffered by Temple i s itTelevant in this case. But Horace says nothing and T e mple finishes her te s timony while the prosecutor in the case, District Attorney Mr. Graham, declares, "[y ]our honor and gentlemen, you have listened to this horrible this unbelievable story which this young girl h as told ... I shall no longer subject this ruined, defenseless child to the agony .. .. "(Sanctum:\, 288). 22

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Of course both the reader and Benbow know that Temple Drake has just lied through her teeth. At this critical moment in the trial, Horace is silent. The law accords the defendant's attorney the opportunity to cross-examine any witness Being refused such an oppm1unity is grounds for a mistrial. A satisfactory cross examination would draw out the inaccuracies of Temple's accusations and reveal the deception in her fraudulent testimony. Such a cross-examination would counter the momentum built up by the District Attorney and temper the emotions in the courtroom, which are in an emotional fren z y, seething in a collective "long hissing breath"'(Sanctum y 288) Horace should counter the courtroom pathos ignited by Mr. Graham by bringing the case back to an investigation of reason and logic regarding Tommy's murder. But Horace never conducts a cross-examination ofTemple Drake. In a bewildered state, he hesitates, and before he knows it his opportunity (and his obligation) to act is lost. Immediately after the District Attorney finishes questioning Temple the girl's father (Mr. Drake) walks right up to the Bench and seems to demand, rather than inquire, "is the Cow1 done with this witness? (Sanctum:v 288 ). Without waiting for an answer, he lift s her up and takes her down otTthe stand and straight out of the courtroom This is a calculated movement by Mr. Drake, of course, as it penn its Temple to 23

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leave the courtroom appearing as a proper young woman who was victimized by white trash. Confused, and perhaps overwhelmed, Horace must know that the trial is lost. Regardless of what further actions he takes, his client has already been convicted in the minds of the jury by Temple's testimony. The jury believes a debutante was raped by white trash, an egregious violation of the southern code, and the jury deliberates for all of eight minutes before returning precisely what the District Attorney asked them for: a guilty verdict. Horace assumed that society would act justly, rationally humanely. When they do not-when Temple petjures herself and the jury believes her-Goodwin's case is lost and Horace's faith in the power of law to triumph over the southern code is shattered. Shock renders Horace Benbow speechless. When he is face to face with Temple, a victim who falsely testifies inside the sacred com1 of law rather than bring the legitimate offender to justice, this man "given to much talk and not much else"(Sanctuary. 13) is silent. Horace actually has the truth in this case, but his beliefs and aspirations for justice become muted and his vision destroyed when put on trial. The southern code pervades even the cou11room in Yoknapatawpha. Olga Vickery points out that "God, whom Horace believed to be 'a gentleman,' remains genteelly indifferent to the subversion ofl-lis divine [justice] by human ones [laws]"(Vickery, Olga, 24

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Faulkner, A Collection ofCriticol Essays, 128). If people listened to Horace and followed him, an innocent man would be set free and a guilty man would have been brought to justice (ironically Popeye still gets his due when he is later executed for a crime he did not commit). But the people are influenced by the southern code, and punishment is merited for white trash that abuse upper-class white women. Horace's professional training in the law is outmatched by the powerful southern code, and he watches impotently as a fraud is perpetrated on the court and legal jus tice is bypassed How did this happen and what is going on with Temple Drake? She has, after all only just returned to Yoknapatawpha after spending an extended amount of time in a dark room in Memphis as Popeye's prisoner. Temple has no apparent reason to inculpate Goodwin in any crime, much less a capital crime such as murder. But she still single handedly secures his guilty verdict, and her reason s for doing so demonstrate, once again. the power of the so uthern code. In Faulkner's novels young upper-class women are taught to adhere to the southern code by powerful paternal figures. Young women I ike Temple, howev er. are certainly not powerless. A s tunning coquette, Temple finds her source of power in her se xuality. With a body that makes men desire her uncontrollably s he tests and exploits this power with her coquetry (a s an 25

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indication of her reputation Horace di scove rs her name written on a lavatory wall at the train s tation) But, as Ruby Lemar points out, she does not realize that she is playing with fire: "You poor little gutless fool Ruby says (Sanctuar y, 70). To protect Temple and to prevent promiscuity, Temple's father, Judge Drake, represses and restrains his daughter's sexuality and subjugates her within the southern code. lf she is to be a "proper southern lady," she must take her place in the so uthern code which elevates her (and her lusty desires) above blacks and white trash below her. Temple' s father is detern1ined to ascribe to his daughter her rightful position in the hierarchy and commensurately force her to become a disciple to the southern code. Aided by a walking stick, a tool of discipline and punishment, Judge Drake represents not just Temple's father, but a patriarchal deity who sits atop the southern hierarchy: a pinnacle of the southern code. More impo11antly, Temple treats him as such. When in the face of danger his daughter calls upon the name of her father the Judge, not the name of God: "[S]he could not think of a single designation for the hea ve nly father so she began to say 'My father's a judge; my father s a judge' over and over. .. "(Sa n c tuar y, 51). Further she calls upon him for protection "Anything you say. My father will give it to 61 ). Still, learning to obey the will of a demanding father does not come 26

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quickly to most teenagers, and Temple is no different. Only after being removed from the southern code will she eventually retum to it as an adherent. If Temple is to se cure an identity separate and distinct from merely being a proper lady belonging to a powerful white father, she must escape the watchful eye of her father and the social code of Yoknapatawpha The power Temple harbors in her sexuality-a power which is repressed or forbidden by her lordly father is flaunted as a beacon to pro spec tive suitors to "rescue" her from her proper lady prison Ironically rather than being rescued from the southern code by a gallant hero and taken away to a place where she might be liberated to establish her own identity free of the code's fetters Temple's would-be-''rescuer,'' Popeye, is instead a man who does not even embrace the sexuality of Temple for himself. Popeye is impotent, and offers Temple's sexuality to others to secure his own commercial profit. After she is sexually abused by Pope ye with a corncob in Goodwin's barn, Temple is subsequently taken by him to a Memphis brothel where she inhabits a dark room and subsists on a diet of cigarettes and whiskey. Her escape from the southern code, Temple finds has led her to a dark sanctuary where rather than being repressed by the southern code, her sexuality-her sole source of power -is taken from her and sold as a commodity 27

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By symbolizing the danger of escaping the social hierarchy and an insouciant fall into depravity, Temple actually serves as an advocate for the southern code After all, both the law and the southern code are the structures in place to prevent such base circumstances as have befallen Temple. But both the law and the southern code are curiously absent in Memphis. Had she remained a prim and proper lady under the guidance of her father, Temple would not have fallen into the pit of despair in Memphis. Yet, in order to enjoy an elevated status in society, Temple must subjugate herself beneath the paternal southern code, a code which limits and constricts her sexual identity and power. Temple realizes the unfortunate fate reserved for herself and other nubile women. There on the stiff bed in Memphis, Temple "l[ay] on her back, her legs close together, she began to cry hopelessly and passively, like a child in a dentist's waiting room"(San ct uary 150) This image is childlike and na"lve: a young girl awaiting a masculine dentist to examine or operate on her in a structured setting. The procedure may indeed cause pain, but ultimately it is for her bettennent (that is, her good health and healing). It is also a sexual image, as Temple holds her legs close together to secure her source of power striving (in a hopelessly futile way) to lock it against the darkness (incarnate in Memphis) which hungers to t ake it from her. This forlorn, hopeless image expresses the futility faced by a young 28

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woman like Temple. Essentially, she has only two options: either exchange her identity and power for the protection and safety of the southern code, or escape the code and thus open herself to base depravity in the dark underworld. Temple does not pursue her escape from the southern code with alacrity, though she certainly does not shy away from it, and when the novel sees her whisked away into Popeye s dark world of sex and depravity, she does not cry out for help. Rather, she simply replaces the voice of her father with the perverse commands of Popeye. Whether it is her lordly father or a sinister sexual deviant, Temple allows men to control her. There within her dark sanctuary, Temple succumbs to the depravity of her new surroundings and comes to substitute Popeye for her father, Judge Drake, evidenced by her frantic invocations to Popeye of"Daddy. Daddy . Give it to me daddy"(Sanctum : v, 236). The ease with which she substitutes Popeye for her father alerts readers that the run-away Temple is not, as Tebbet suggests, a "modernist rebel, reclaiming her identity and her sexuality from an oppressive social system '(Tebbet Tenell, The Faulkner Journal, 56). No, she is merely a young woman who lets men control her as she is taken from one setting to another, from a university campus, to the Memphis underworld, and even as we shall see, in a court of law. 29

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Temple eventually emerges from the Memphis undenvorld when she is taken to another sanctuary: the courtroom. Once again, Temple does not act on her own volition; rather, she pennits herself to be controlled by men. This time, it is patriarchs ofthe southern code who remove her from Memphis and take her to a courtroom-a supposed ''temple" of justicewhere she will be forced to inhabit her proper role beneath the southern code once again. Lahey notes that while Faulkner's male characters frequently expend their energy trying to neutralize empowered women under the code, female characters, "are most helpless, or most punished for their threat of equality in the forum of male-construed male-centered institutions"(Lahey 517). Nowhere is this more apparent than in ""the institution Faulkner returns to again and again, the law: with the male representation ofwomen in the court; with the claims, outcomes, attitudes, and verdicts regarding women and their legal identities; with the lack of chance for women ... to represent their own interests''( Lahey 517). In this case, Temple is examined in the court of l a w and the men represent and advocate for her identity as a proper southern lady. Temple does not represent her own experience or interests: rather, her experiences (her testimony) and interests (indeed, the interest ascribed to her by the southern code) are represented on her behalf (whether she wants it or not) by the ambassadors of the southern code. 30

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When Temple testifies in the Jefferson courtroom in that pivotal moment as justice and the fate of Lee Goodwin hang in the balance, Judge Drake intervenes by swooping into the courtroom like an avenging god. His approaching the witness and taking her away violates decorum in a way that would allow the sitting judge to charge him with contempt. No such warning comes; rather, the entire courtroom-everyone from the judge down to the attorneys to the people in the gallery are spellbound by the aura and presence of this man. Judge Drake is a tangible symbol of the southern code and he acts at will within the courtroom of law Judge Drake is shown the utmost respect and honor by the trial judge who supplicates to his request as he glides with confidence right up to the witness stand, carries away a critical witness, and leaves no questions asked With his intrusion into the courtroom, .Judge Drake ensures that Temple will be reassimilated under the code as he places his daughter back into her proper position. Further Judge Drake s actions demonstrate the power of the southern code to trump proper decorum of the law. As Temple is esc011ed out of the courtroom by Drake we see one final symbol of Temple's entering the southern code When Temple drops her platinum bag onto the floor, Judge Drake sees it but does not return it to her. Rather he kicks it away with his foot. Inside the bag is her compact which she uses to present herself to the world as she would be. The 31

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platinum bag was given to Temple by Popeye, and without her compact and the other necessary sundries inside it Temple has nothing but her father, the Judge, to depend on. Temple thus becomes "a prisoner in the Judge's house as she was in the bordello"(Tebbett, 57). With Sanctumy, Faulkner presents a setting where the southern code operates to advance the "constricting, defining shaping, [and] controlling ... of woman"(Lahey, 524). With the character of Temple Drake the author demonstrates how the southern code represses women by slotting them in their appropriate subservient position in the hierarchy As Temple is rea ss imilated into the code, Goodwin bums on a bon fire built by vigilantes. Under the law, Goodwin still needs to be sentenced for the crime for which he has been convicted. But he receives no such opportunity because the law is usurped by the southern code. Worked up in a frenzy on the news of Goodwin's guilt and throbbing with a sense of so uthern code duty pertaining to this man who violated an upper-class white girl, the men of Yoknapatawpha destroy Goodwin in a public conflagration. In a novel full of victims of the so uthem code (notably Temple and Goodwin), we must not forget that Horace belongs on this list as well. Horace Benbow's joumey ends with an ultimate and complete sunender to the powerful so uthern code. Horace had set out to fight for just ice under the law, assuming he would succeed because truth and 32

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justice must inevitably triumph, or so he believed. During his journey throughout the novel, he reali zes that this idealism does not exist in reality and it is crushed by the southern code. He retreats back along the dusty roads taking him out of Yoknapatawpha, away from the frenzied mobs, and back to the security of his controlling wife at home. Early in the novel when his sister had asked him "why mix up in it ... [ w ]hy must you do such things?" Horace had replied "J cannot stand idly by and see injustice-"(Sanctumy, 119). Horace acted, he saw legal justice defeated by the southern code, and he now removes himself from the setting altogether. Ms. Jenny was indeed correct when she told him at the beginning of the novel, "[y ]ou wont ever catch up with injustice, Horace"(Sanctumy, 119) A defeated Horace is left to believe she is right. Faulkner hints early on that Horace's absolute faith in legal justice is na ive and misguided Horace s existence in a place like Yoknapatawpha where justice is elusive is sy mbolized in the image of him kneeling to the earth to drink from a spring. We read, "In the spring the drinking man leaned his face to the broken and myriad reflection of his own drinking. When he rose up he saw among them the shattered reflection of Popeye's straw hat, though he had heard no sound"(Sanctumy, 4 ). As he leans over to drink from the earth, Horace views his reflection minored in the water. Then horrifically he watches his own reflection become intersper se d with 33

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that of Popeye s and he watches as the lapping water unites Popeye s reflection within his own. Popeye is abnonnal, sterile, and the epitome of base depravity. As a child he cut up birds and kittens with scissors With a face that has a "queer, bloodless color, as seen by electric light," and like "a wax doll set too near a hot fire and forgotten,"(Sanctumy, 4-5) Popeye is described as scary, unwell, and wrong. When the essence of Popeye is latent in the very water and nature of the county, the reader perceives that something is ugly and wrong in Yoknapatawpha. Further we see that this image of Popeye also dwells within Horace, ambassador of the legal system. Thus, Popeye's reflection in the spring hints at both the endemic ugly southern code in Y oknapatawpha, as well as the potential of something going awry with Horace Benbow and the legal system he stands for. Both of these suggestions turn out to come true, as we see injustice occur in both the southern code and the legal system. First, we have already seen how the \Vrath of the southern code in Y oknapatawpha claims the life of Goodwin in a bon-fire set by vigilantes. However Popeye also plays a crucial role in our understanding of s tatutory law and justice. Though he is never blamed for Tommy' s murder Pope y e is still actually processed all the way through the legal system The irony is that, like Goodwin, he is convicted by a jury for a crime he did not commit. In fact, 34

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Popeye is convicted in Birmingham for killing a police officer at the same time and day that he was preoccupied killing a different man in Memphis (Red, Temple's lover). So while we know that Popeye is guilty of Red's murder, we also know that he is innocent of the murder for which he is tried. None the less, Popeye is judged guilty for this crime and he is sentenced to hang Popeye is not victimized by the southern code but he is defeated (unjustly) by the legal justice system. Still, he seems intent on doing all he can to ensure his demise within the legal system. Popeye does not win any friends in the courtroom, alienating the judge as well as all potential defense attorneys that are present in the gallery. As a reward, the judge appoints Popeye with a newly minted attorney right out of law school. A raw untested litigator is clearly not the seasoned veteran one would hope for in a capital murder case Then after he is convicted, Popeye refuses to appeal, despite the fact that the D A. is certain he will and is even making his plans for an appeal immediately after they exit the courtroom: "lt was too easy," the D.A. exclaims, noting Popeye, probably got a Memphis lawyer already there outside the supreme court door now waiting for a wire ... everybody knows it [the verdict] wont hold"(Sanctumy, 312). And yet to the s urprise of everyone, Popeye does not appeal. He simply accepts the jury's misguided decision and remains content to sit in his cell and smoke the days away. Perhaps feeling a 35

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burden of guilt or a sense of karmic justice, Popeye seems content to be hanged by the legal system, and he is. While the southern code subverts legal justice in Goodwin's case (Goodwin is tried in court but he is destroyed by vigilantes before he is legally sentenced), it does not come into play for Popeye. As a white man with money he is not victimized by the southern code the way racial minorities and white trash may be. Rather, Faulkner has Popeye meet his demise by the legal system. Although the jury's ruling is inconect, Popeye received all of the justice guaranteed to him by the law. He received a trial, was represented by counsel, was judged by a jury of his peers, and was sentenced in court. Still, why did Faulkner choose to have Popeye convicted of a crime he didn't commit? He could have simply had Popeye convicted of Red's murder. The answer reveals Faulkner s understanding of an imperfect legal system Though there are procedural and constitutional safeguards, the system is not perfect, and sometimes an innocent man is judged guilty: even the legal system can fail. Faulkner hinted as much when Popeye's base image appeared interspersed with that of Horace, the legal system's ambassador. Nothing is perfect in Y oknapatawpha. The southern code usurps the law and destroys Lee Goodwin, and the legal system convicts and destroys Popeye for a crime he didn't commit. Though both systems of "justice" fail in Sanctuary, 36

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there is no mistaking that one system is blatantly racist and classist, and the other operates with a judge, jury of peers, guaranteed legal counsel, and chance for app eal. Unlike the southern code, the legal sys tem is set up to be fair to all people. Still, justice for accused criminals remains e lusive in Sanctum} ', being thwarted by southern code vigilantes and incorrect legal rulings, and we should have known this would be the case after seeing Popeye's vile image dwelling in the spring water. Light in August With Light in August, published just one year after Sanctuary, Faulkner provides another glimpse of the entrenched southern code and its damning denouement. In this tour deforce. Faulkner once again features the southern code, and the reader se nses a mal ais e upon Y oknapatawpha from the first page A tall column of yellow smoke ris ing at the opening of Light in August her a lds an ominous portent for the county. Newly a ware that the smoke rises from a burning home, and that Joanna Burden has allegedly been murdered by a black man within it, a crowd mobili zes "within thirty minute s . as though out of thin air . parti es and groups ranging from single individuals to entire families. Still others came out from town"( Faulkner, Li gh t in August, 287 [hereafter, Light]) The 37

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existence of a dead white woman puts everyone on alarm, and they begin to frantically ask, "who did it? . By God, ifthat's him, what are we doing, standing around here? Murdering a white woman the black son of a ... "(Light 290-91 ). Rumor spreads immediately that the man responsible for this crime was the enigmatic drifter, Joe Christmas. While Joe Christmas's race actually remains ambiguous (his father was most likely Hispanic, not black), he tells others that he is part black and he has been identified as a black man by his fotmer business pm1ner Joe Brown. When Mr. Brown is detained and questioned by the police he knows he holds a trump card when he tells the Sheriff, "Go on. Accuse me . Accuse the white man and let the nigger go free Accuse the white and let the nigger run"(Light, 97). The victim of the crime, Joanna Burden was a recluse who lived on the outskirts of Jefferson. The I ittle that people knew of her consisted mostly of rumors regarding her abolitionist family roots, her pursuit of advancing the black race, and most shocking to gossipers, her rumored salacious relationship with a black man. Yet. in the instant the crowds discover that a white woman has been nearly decapitated, the historical specificity of Joanna Burden disappears and the foreigner stigma is replaced with the myth of the unguarded southern white lady. Chuck Jackson notes succinctly that Burden s death transfom1s the Yankee38

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foreigner into violated southern white woman whom the mob instantly identifies as one of their own''(Jackson, Chuck, The Faulkn e r Journal, 202). Acting on rumors regarding his race, and influenced by the mold of the southern code the people of Yoknapatawpha cast Joe into the character of black rapist and murderer who must be destroyed Fittingly Joe is depicted in the text as a tempting black serpent as he stakes out Burden's home from behind the bushes near her house, lying "in the copse on his belly on the dark earth (Light 228). As Nelson observes Burden s death thus puts into motion the beginnings of a lynching nanative, where "black men are a threat to white women, the white family, white racial purity, supremacy, and ultimately the nation"(Nelson, Lisa The Faulkner Journal, 53). We have already discussed the way the southern code operated within its racist and classist mores to subvet1 legal justice and provide for the extra-judicial destruction of Lee Goodwin, a lower-class \vhite man Now, we will witness the way the southern code again bypasses legal justice as a racist vigilante kills this "black" man who is alleged to have raped and murdered a white woman. As soon as Christmas is returned to Jefferson from Mottstown, Percy Grimm, a local young Captain in the state National guard, reports to the commander of his local Post that "We got to preserve order. .. we must 39

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Jet the law take its course''(Light, 451 ). Aware of the volatile anger ofthe citizens of Jefferson, Percy reasons, "It is the right of no civilian to sentence a man to death ... we, the soldiers in Jefferson, are the ones to see to that"( Light, 452). The legion commander disagrees, noting "dont think there is any need of it. And ifthere was, we would all have to act as civilians. l couldn't use the Post like that. After all, we are not soldiers now"(Light, 452). Undeterred, Percy is zealous in his desire for power, and he refuses to adhere to the commander's position. With a vision and leadership style that is 'so sincere, so humorless"(Light, 452), this young man assumes leadership over the commander and the other local National guardsmen who acquiesce to his leadership because there is "something irresistible and prophetlike''(Light, 453) about him. As he organizes a ragtag platoon of legion-members to patrol the streets of Jefferson and maintain order, the citizens of Jefferson notice Percy's leadership and believe that he is "the captain of them. Special officer sent by the governor. He's the head of the whole thing. Sheriffaint got no say in it today"(Light, 458). This leadership position belongs rightfully to the sheriff of Yoknapatawpha, Mr. Kennedy. Yet Kennedy seems to be disengaged from the entire situation. While Percy is organizing platoons of men to patrol the streets, Kennedy isn't even at his sheriffs otTice; rather. the elected 40

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lawman is at home assumed to be "[ e ]ating, I reckon. A man as big as him has got to eat several times a day"(Light, 454 ). When Percy finally tracks the sheriff down, he is told that his men may not CaJTY pistols. However, despite the sheriffs demands that Percy leave his pistol at home, Percy refuses to comply, and the sheriff caves in to Percy, saying, ''[w]ell ... I reckon I'll have to make you a special deputy. But you aint to even show that gun unless I tell you to. You hear me?"(Light, 455). To this Grimm replies "certainly not," at once answering the sheriffs later question while also asserting his superior position by refusing the sheriffs demand. With his soft stance which permits Percy and his men to carry pistols, the sheriti offers Percy his tacit endorsement to patrol the streets with fireanns. Remarkably it is not only the sheriff and guardsmen of Jefferson that give their endorsement to Percy but the people in town as well. In fact, the people of Jefferson place their faith and confidence in this young man, almost without knowing they had done so: Without knowing that they were thinking it, the town had suddenly accepted Grimm with respect and perhaps a little awe and a deal of actual faith and confidence, as though somehow his vision and patriotism and pride in the town, the occasion had been quicker and truer than theirs (Light, 456-66). There are two primary reasons why the all of these parties respond to the leadership of Percy Grimm. First and most importantly, Percy is a 41

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man with a pistol who is outside ofthe law and he has the potential to enforce the southern code. The sheriff will not do it he is a man ofthe law intent on keeping Christmas locked in jail until he is tried in a court of law and sentenced. Percy, on the other hand, can be understood to be searching for his opportunity to get at this "black'' murderer who slept with a white woman. After all, he has overreacted to the intensity of the situation when Christmas is brought to Jefferson. There a re no raging mobs waiting to lynch Christmas upon his arrival and even Percy's legion command asks "How do you know that anybody is planning anything .. Have you heard any talk?"(Light 452). He has not y et Grimm escalates the intensity of the situation and talks his way into being pe1mitted to guard the streets with armed men. Then, as Percy gathers recruits to fom1 his platoon, the men are all in agreement with the legion commander that "the official designation of the legion must be kept out of it (Light 453). Why would they insist on this? Without any official designation, the men are nothing more than an armed group of men, keeping a lookout on the accused "black'' m a n secured inside the county jail. Percy's men explain "This is Jefferson's trouble, not Washington's," and by keeping the any govemment designation out of it, they reason 'we can do what we want without that. Better. Aint th a t right, boys?''(Light, 454 ). What this anned group of whit e men want, understandably, is to 42

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execute vigilante justice on Joe Christmas. Indeed, the men betray their underlying intentions when they call out to the night marshal who keeps watch at the jail to "throw the son of a bitch out"( Light 457). Make no mistake, Percy is the leader of an organized lynch mob just waiting for a chance to usurp the law and execute the southern code, and they will get their man Joe Christmas. This brings us to the second reason why Percy is able to assume leadership in Yoknapatawpha. The young man inspires confidence because of his decisive action and the certitude in his mission. While charismatic confidence was grown in Percy over time. his mission and the beliefs that propel it are intrinsic to the character. Percy is not born a natural leader, he is actually aimless until he discovers his calling. Percy spent his early years "like a man who had been for a long time in a swamp, in the dark. It was as though he not only could see no path ahead of him, he knew there was none"(Light. 450-451 ). Thought by his own family to be lazy and "perfectly worthless," something remarkable happens to Percy shortly after he enters adulthood which changes his life forever: "[S]uddenly his life opened definite and clear[.]" and Percy "could now see his life opening before him, uncomplex and inescapable as a banen conidor, completely freed now of ever having to think or decide. the burden which he now assumed and canied as bright and 43

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weightless .... "(Light, 451 ). This watershed event occurs the moment he assumes "a sublime and implicit faith in ... blind obedience and a belief that the white race is superior to any and all other races'"(Light, 451 ). Percy finds himself as he embraces the southern code, and his faith in racial superiority justifies his existence and his actions. No longer aimless, Percy is certain of his mission in life. He holds a remarkable, unfailing confidence in this fate, and his commitment to enforcing the southern code will be ruthless. When Joe Christmas escapes from jail, Percy Grimm reacts immediately. Almost as if he expected the scenario to play out in a certain way, Percy, "knew at once what had happened," and "his reaction was definite and immediate"(Light, 458). Brimming with confidence and with arrogant, unwavering fortitude, he pursues Christmas while the townspeople "made way," recognizing in him how "he seemed to be served by certitude the blind and untroubled faith in the rightness and infallibility of his actions'"(Light, 459). Percy chases the fugitive with "the implacable undeviation of Juggernaut or Fate," and he does so "as though under the protection of a magic or a providence . . '"(Light. 460, 462). Berland observes how Percy"s demeanor seems almost supernatural or ordained. noting Grimm's 'pursuit of Joe Christmas associates Grimm with the echoing tone of some infallible inflexible Jehovah. relentlessly 44

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pursuing the enemy ... "( Berland, 53). Berland is conect in spotting the detenninism in Percy's pursuit but she stops short in identifying the source of Percy's drive Percy Grimm is driven by the southern code. This is indicat e d in the fact that when he finally catches up to Joe Christmas, Percy does not try to anest the fugitive and return him to jail where he can be later tried in court. Rather, he dashes into the home with his pistol drawn, "already tiring" into the room where Christmas is cowering. Percy wants to kill Christmas himself, to de s troy this "black" man who dared to sleep with and then murder a white woman. Ominously, even after shooting Christmas with the pistol Grimm is not yet finished with Christmas, and his final repulsive action against the man is a convincing finale that explains all of his actions leading up to it. Grimm grasps a butcher's knife and emasculates the immobile Christmas. As "the pent black blood seemed to rush like a released breath out of the slashed gam1ents about Christmas's loins Grimm says "[n]ow you'lllet white women alone, even in hell"( Light, 464 ). The southern code drove Percy to first become involved in patrolling Jefferson while it held an alleged "black'' rapist and murderer. The code fueled his chase after Christmas as well as his use of deadly force to destroy the man. Finally, the so uthem code is th e motivation behind his torture of Christmas in a symbolic 45

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emasculation. With these actions, and a name that evokes the Grim Reaper, Percy Grimm is unmistakably an executor of the southern code. Faulkner adds another layer of interpretation to this episode by portraying the victim ofthe southern code as an archetypal symbol. Joe Christmas's fated destruction is paralleled to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Though Faulkner deflected queries into his intention of doing so, I believe it would be a mistake to dismiss the parallels between Jesus Christ and Joe Christmas, as they are myriad and prevalent. Like Jesus, Joe is born to an unmarried mother, and he is found at the front door of an orphanage on Christmas day. He is named Joseph Christmas, thus having the initials J.C. His feet are washed by Mrs. McEachern who, like the crowds in Jerusalem, carries "a palm-leaf fan''(Light. 148). Like Jesus, the years of Christmas's teens and twenties are nebulous, until when at the age of thirty-three Joe arrives in Jefferson. Joe is betrayed to the authorities by his pm1ner Lucas Birch, a parallel of Judas, for one-thousand pieces of silver. Christmas t1ees Jefferson and arrives in Mottstown where a man recognizes him and asks, "Aint your name Christmas?" Just like Christ, Joe's response is that "he never denied it.''(Lighl. 331 ). Finally, at the age of thit1y-three (the age of Christ when he was crucified), Joe Christmas receives five wounds (stigmata) as he is killed on a Friday; we may call it "Good Friday." Finally, Faulkner's minister in the novel, Reverend 46

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Hightower, prophesized this demise, believing Christmas was "the doomed man . in whose crucifixion [a church] will raise a cross"(Light, 348). Faulkner pins the archetype of Christmas and Percy Grimm, executor of the southern code, against each other in a cosmic showdown in the temple of a man of God. There in Rev. Hightower's home Joe Christmas finally succumbs to death at the hand of Percy Grimm. Because he is an archetype of Christ, Christmas' destiny is fated. Nelson notes how, ''the story of Christ, and by extension any story allegorically structured on it, would of necessity be both fated and fatal: bow it ends would and could not change, and the protagonist would die''(Nelson, 57). Despite having a pistol, Christmas does not tire it at Percy; he instead stoically accepts his fate. The narrator admits it was as though he had set out to and made his plans to passively commit suicide''(Light, 443 ). In Joe Christmas's final moments he, "just lay there, with his eyes open and empty of everything save consciousness." Then, with ''peaceful and unfathomable and unbearable eyes Joe becomes a stoic victim to the southern code as his "pent black blood seemed to rush like a released breath''(Light, 465). With this understanding of the southern code and vigilante Percy Grimm, we discover the fascinating way Faulkner employed these 47

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symbols and archetypes in Light in August to deliver a penetrating, lasting critique against the southern code. The southern code energizes Percy to pursue Christmas, the embodiment of the mythic southern rapist, until he is ultimately destroyed. The character of Percy Grimm, Faulkner explains, "exists everywhere ... and he's not prevalent but he's every where"(Gwynn, Frederick L. and Joseph L. Blotner, Faulkner in the Universi(v, 41 ). This vigilante's defeat of Joe Christmas demonstrates the relentless destructive power of the southern code. Further, Faulkner employs biblical allegory in the novel, Nelson writes "precisely for its overdetern1ined, fatal quality"(Nelson. 57). Joe Christmas's destruction plants itself in the conscience of its readers and will remain there a stinging reminder of the wretchedness of the southern code. This code motivates Percy Grimm to torture a critically wounded Christmas in such a way that when people "saw what Grimm was doing one of the men gave a choked cry and stumbled back into the wall and began to vomit''(Light, 464). This spectacle of Percy Grimm's execution ofthe southern code and the demise of Joe Christmas which induces physical expulsion will not be forgotten by the reader, rather the symbol of Christmas will "rise soaring into their memories forever and ever. .. it will be there, musing, quiet, steadfast, not fading'' (Light, 465) 48

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Intruder in the Dust With intruder in the Dust, Faulkner offers a final pm1rait of the southern code. Published when the author was fifty-one years old, and after a life-time spent in the South, Faulkner was ready to pen a novel that explicitly focused on the southern code. Robert Penn Warren observes that this novel is more of a polemic, a tract which focuses directly on the race issues (Warren, Robert Penn, Faulkner, A Collection olCritica/ Essays, 33). With this in mind, we observe a familiar setting in which a black man stands accused of a heinous crime Yet this time things take a different tum in the story and the southern code is defeated as the black man walks free. How and why this happened, and Faulkner's reason for creating such a plot, will reveal the author's optimistic hope for the future generations of the South. intruder in the Dust opens as a peal of bells erupts in the crowded square ofYoknapata'vvpha County on a Sunday, announcing the anival of Lucas Beauchamp as he is ushered to jail. Lucas is in a bad spot, standing accused of shooting a white man in the back. and a black man murdering a 49

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white man will inspire vigilantes under the southem code intent on destroying the man. To make matter s worse, Lucas has the reputation of an insolent middle-aged black man who refuses to adhere to his proper place in the so uthern code b y acting appropriately according to his sta tus in society. At such a moment of crisis, a powerful lawyer could really do something s ignificant here by providing a s taunch and zealous defense for this accused black murderer. As he watches the scene unfold amidst the crowd, Charles Malory a middle-class white teenager suddenly becomes part of the action when he is summoned by the prisoner and told, "[t]ell your uncle I want s to see him"(Faulkner, William. Intrud e r in th e Dust, 44 [hereafter Intrud e r]). Charles Malory (Chick) relays Lucas's request to his uncle and Gavin Stevens travels to the jail cell. Gavin wastes no time in betraying his opinions regarding this insolent black man. Entering the jail, Gavin begins his conversation with Lucas by saying, "Well, old man ... you played hell at last "(lntrud er, 57). When asked what he will do with Luca s Gavin replies, "Me? ... Nothing My name aint Gowrie. It aint even Be a t Four"(lntmder, 58). The Gowries live in a pa11 of town called Beat Four. and Gavin's words infer that a lynch mob composed of these men will have their way with Lucas. Lucas is persistent in seeking due process of the law, saying, "I mean the law. Aint yo u the county lawyer?"(lntrude r 50

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58). Gavin is in fact the county lawyer, but even though he eventually agrees to represent Lucas, he has no confidence in Lucas's chances at court, telling him "you'll plead guilty ... [t]hen they wont hang you; they'll send you to the penitentiary ; you probably wont live long enough to be paroled but at least the Gowries cant get to you there" (Intrud er, 63). Lawyer Stevens is quick to advise this plea that would send the man to prison for the remainder of his life because he knows that the community would rather just lynch this accused black murderer. Gavin doesn't even give Lucas a chance to speak and explain his innocent role in the alleged crime. Still. even if had the chance to speak, Lucas wouldn't tell him who really killed Vinson Gowrie. Lucas knows that Gavin, a powerful white man entrenched in the southern code, won't believe him anyway, and he also understands that naming a white murderer would carry its own kind of death sentence by the mobs waiting outside. Lucas believes (and he is intractable enough to never deviate from his beliefs) that he has to let Mr. Stevens and other powerful white people figure it out for themselves, if he is to be exonerated. Lawyer Stevens cannot help Lucas in this predicament as he is too sure of Lucas's guilt; rather, if he is to achieve legal justice, Lucas must look for a sympathetic ear from those characters that have not yet been poisoned by the southern code. 51

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Certainly, Lucas would be better off having an influential white attorney to advocate on his behalf. A lawyer is in a unique position in society to influence the community with his words and actions. He is a sott of "la\\)'er-paternalist: guiding both blacks and whites in the right direction" while at the same time "protecting community-based norms ... "(Sassoubre, 205) The problem in Yoknapatawpha is that Faulkner's lawyer is imbued with the tenets of the southern code and this "lawyer-paternalist" thus promulgates the southern code in the county. Norms of the southern code rooted in racism and class ism are a deterrent to social equality and legal justice, and Lawyer Stevens does not speak out against them. Gavin instead promulgates what he identifies as "the rules : the nigger acting like a nigger and the white folks acting like white folks and no real hard feelings on either side ''(intruder, 48). Faulkner's intentional use of "then-word" further reinforces the racial hierarchy endemic to the southem code and espoused by Gavin Stevens. The word functions as a marker of identity, and the name "nigger'' evokes an entire way of racial perception by both blacks and whites that is continually codified by each use ofthe word. Sugimori points out how the denomination of "nigger'' molds "blacks" into 'acting like niggers'' and wanting to kill "whites'' like Vinson Gowrie (Sugimori, Masami, The Faulkner Journal, 63). This trope not only suppresses a 52

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Black individual's diversity individuality and personhood but it also "attaches to them stereotypically inferior attributes such as ignorance,' 'cowardice,' childishness, subservience,' 'savageness' and brutality"'(Sugimori 56). Lucas howeve r, refuses to play the role assigned to him and thus becomes a constant source of frustration to Gavin Stevens and the rest of the white community who are detennined to "make him be a nigger ." (Jntmd er, 18). The Negro community also resents Lucas s arrogance in refusing his position in the hierarchy. Aleck Sander expresses this sentiment when he says, "Jt's the ones like Lucas makes trouble for everybody (Jntruder 85). "The ones like Lucas the reader comes to under sta nd, are the ones who act not black nor white either not arrogant at all and not even scornful: just intolerant inflexible and composed"(!mruder, 13 ). Thi s ambiguous, unclassifiable behavior incites the citizens of Yoknapatawpha all the more as they insist on imposing the nigger'' label upon Lucas. Gavin too is aware of the community's resentment, and he reminds the prisoner, "if you just said mister to white people and said it like you meant it you might not be sitting here now"(Jntmd e r 60). Yet Luca s still specifically reque sts Gavin Stevens to aid in his defen se. He does this despite the fact it is foreseeabl e that Gavin may do more to hurt Lucas's plight than he will to help Lucas calls upon Gavin 53

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because this lawyer has a convincing way with words. Not only are attomeys respected professionals who are often looked to for guidance and leadership, the good ones also have a gift of rhetorical persuasion. This fact was not lost on Lucas, but more poignantly, it was not lost on Faulkner, who intentionally and deliberately uses the lawyer figure in this novel to elucidate precepts of the southern code. Litigation, after all, is in and of itself a verbal activity that occurs when disputes are argued via narrative for an audience. Gavin has the power to influence and manipulate people to reorder reality the way he believes it should be. Whenever Gavin sets upon weaving a tale, the reader observes along with Chick Mallison the way the other characters become absorbed in listening to and believing Gavin's stories. Gavin is often depicted as speaking through a cloud of enchanting smoke emanating from his omnipresent tobacco pipe, talking ''not just through the smoke but into it and with it"(lntruder, 217). Evidence of Gavin's persuasive skill is depicted in the way the rhetorician's audience blinks and stares while entranced by his stories. Chick observes how when Gavin speaks in his "rapid condensed and succinct" manner his I isteners watch him in a sort of hypnotic state, their "little hard eyes go flick tlick. slick ... then back to his uncle again. staring at his uncle for almost a quarter of a minute without even blinking''(lntruder, I 07). 54

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Gavin s gift of rhetoric becomes problematic when the reader understands he promulgates the southem code in this way. For example, when Chick wams Gavin to suppose what might happen if the mob gets Lucas in the jail, Gav in responds, Suppose it then. Lucas should ha v e thought of that before he shot a white man in the back"(fntruder, 79). This response does not sit well with Chick, who presses Gav in further regarding the safety of Lucas in the jail. In response Gavin offers, "If anything was going to happen they would have done it out there, at home, in their own back yard; they would ne ver have let Mr. Hampton [the sheriff] get to town with him In fact I still dont understand why they did (lntruder, 80) Clearly Gavin is not a staunch defender of Lucas's right to a legal trial, and he unmi s takably identifies his position on the southern code his when he tells Chick : We (I mean all of us: Beat Four will be unable to sleep at night until it has cancelled Lucas Beauchamp ((or someone else)) against Vinson Gowrie in the same color of ink and Beat One and Two and Three and Five who on heatless principle intend to see that Beat Four makes that cancellation) dont know why it i s valuable. We dont need to know Only a few of us know that onl y from homogeneity comes anything of a people or for a people of durable and lasting value .. Someda y Lucas Beauchamp can shoot a white man in the back \ V ith the same impunity to l y nch-rope or gasoline as a white man; in time he will vote anywhen and an y where a white man can and send his children to the same school anywhere the white man's children go and travel anywhere the white man tra v els as 55

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the white man does it. But it wont be next Tuesday (intruder, 151-152). Gavin may believe that the South will eventually solve its southern code issues of race and class, but it will take a long time As for now, Gavin uses his speech to order his universe, allotting characters and events into their proper s phere according to the southern code he espous es As a youthful protege to Gavin Stevens, Chick has been the recipient of Gavin's ideology throughout his entire life A nephew of the lawyer Chick is a constant companion to Gavin and looks up to the man with respect and admiration. Throughout his young life Chick has accepted at face value the stories that his uncle would tell. Chick is conspicuously bereft of a father in the novel, and Gavin has assumed the role of paternal guide and counselor for the teenager. Still y oung Chick is perhaps unaware of the true depth of his own observ ation when he notes you really were the sum of your ancestry (lntrud e r 95) The sum of ancestry Schreiber writes means that Chick inherits generations of a social hierarchy that separates black from white and prohibits any infom1al easy relationship between the races. For white Yoknapatawpha County, blacks remain inferior and suspect, vulnerable to the whims of white power structures"(Schreiber, Evelyn Jaffe, A Gath e rin g a/Evidence: Essay s o n William Faulkner's Intruder in the Du s t 251 ) After climbing to 56

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the top of a plateau in a vehicle driven by his Uncle Gavin Chick Malison looks out over the earth below : Now he seemed to see his whole native land, his homethe dirt, the earth which had bred his bones and those of his fathers for six generations and was still shaping him into not just a man but a specific man not with just a man's passions and aspirations and beliefs but the specific passions and hopes and convictions and ways of thinking and acting of a specific kind and even race : and even more: even among a kind and race specific and unique ... (Intrud e r 148). Chick is a malleable young man, and without some sort of intervention he will inevitably be shaped by the southern code as he grows into an adult Though Gavin has adopted the southern code and will not escape its ideology Chick has not yet made it his own. Chick observes the code and watches those close to him profess the code, but his world-view has not yet been overtaken by it. Faulkner uses a color metaphor involving black coffee and white sugar and milk to illustrate Chick's difficulty in accepting the southern code. Chick struggles to consume his beverage when he sits to drink coffee with his family the morning after discovering Montgomery in Vinson Gowrie's grave There is something wrong with the drink that he can't quite put a finger on Still he forces himself to, "drink the [black] coffee which . he didn't like and didn't want but not enough for him to . not drink it: tasting sipping then adding more [white] sugar to it until each-coffee and sugar-ceased to be either and 57

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became a sickish quinine sweet amalgam of the worst ofboth" (lntruder, 126). He tries to blend black and white in his coffee cup and consume the sum yet it is just not right. Uncle Gavin, who downs his blended coffee with ease, notices the ado and yells at his nephew, ''Danmit, stop that"(lntrud er, 126). Gavin then goes to the kitchen where he brings ''a soup bowl and dump[s] the coffee into the bowl and pour[s] the hot [white] milk into it ... "(Jntruder, 126). Gavin's solution to make the drink well, s imilar to his southern code ideology, is to dominate the black by making the white more powerful. Chick stares for a moment at his beverage until Gavin yells at him, "Go on. Forget about it. Just drink it" (Intrud er, 126) Chick may not like it but Gavin instructs him to just accept it. and go on. Of course, Chick still has yet to "go on" to accept the southern code. Yet when Lucas Beauchamp winds up in jail and Chick is a direct witnesses to Lawyer Stevens' interaction with the black accused murderer, he is forced to confront this decision head on. Either he gets on board with the southern code espoused by his mentor (and thereby refuse to listen to Lucas when he asks Chick to dig up the grave of a white man allegedly murdered by a black man), or he must take a stand against the southern code and do what he believes is necessary to exculpate this wrongly charged black man. Frustrated that his uncle does not take action to expose 58

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Lucas's innocence, Chick searches for the source of the attorney's intractable position. He investigates the language used by Gavin, and he "marveled ... at the paucity, the really almost standardized meagerness ... of Vocabulary itself, by means of which even man can live in vast droves and herds even in concrete warrens in comparative amity: even his uncle too''(lntruder, 79). Gavin's words convince Chick that Gavin and the southern code cannot and will not bring justice to Lucas. This youth, who still can and does think outside the southern code, requires an additional catalyst to push him away from the ideology of the southern code promulgated by Gavin and reveal to him an alternate route to justice. Chick needs the help of an outsider, an "other": a woman, and an unmarried one, who by not being a member of the patriarchal structure that wields power, remains outside it. Ms. Habersham, a "kinless spinster of seventy," exists on the fringes of society in Yoknapatawpha. Despite having a name that is "the oldest which remained in the county," she has been rendered powerless after being cast aside by society(Jntruder 75). Being a septuagenarian without any spouse, children. or kin can have the effect of pushing one out ofthe social fold. Remarkably, being an outcast from society has also removed her from the clutches of the southern code As a kinless spinster, she has no motive to retain a code that disenfranchises those who are not 59

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white and powerful. This has the predictable effect of rendering her invisible to society: people ignore her. The first time the reader encounters Ms. Habersham she is speaking with a muffled voice behind closed doors with Gavin in his home Excited with the potentially exculpatory infonnation he has just received from Lucas Chick rudely throws the door open and intenupts the meeting, exclaiming [ e ]xcuse me. rve got to speak to Uncle Gavin: Uncle Gavin-"(lnrruder, 76). Gavin cuts him off quickly, and with an unmistakable tone reminds Chick that, "so is Miss Habersham"(lntruder, 76 ). Chick does not heed Gavin's rebuff, and continues to speak because "he had already forgotten Miss. Habersham, even her presence"(Jntruder, 77). Even after he finishes his brief conversation with Gavin Chick again "had forgotten Miss Habersham. He had dismissed her; he had said 'Excuse me' and so evanished her not only from the room but the moment too as the magician with one word or gesture disappears the palm tree "(Intruder, 77). Ironically, the person Chick most needs to speak with is right in front of him and he does not notice her. He needs a guide to help him: he has received important information from Lucas which could set the man free, but he is also well aware ofthe inadequacies ofthe southem code in achieving justice for an accused black man. \Vhile Gavin trapped within the southem code-already believes Lucas is guilty and only seeks to get 60

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him a fair trial, Chick believes in Lucas's innocence. But his youth is a handicap and he needs the confidence an adult can instill. Further, he desperately requires moral counseling that goes beyond the tenets of the southern code. Such a remarkable feat requires a special character, and Faulkner gives Ms. Habersham the features appropriate of such a character. Symbolically, she is adorned with a glimmering golden hear1, which she literally wears on her blouse sleeve. It is a gold in a hunting case suspended by a gold brooch on her flat bosom almost like and in almost the same position as the heart sewn on the breast of a canvas fencing vest"(lntruder, 75). The woman with a golden heart is the guide Chick needs to lead him beyond the southern code. There in the darkness outside of lawyer Stevens' home, Faulkner finally brings Habersham and Chick together. Ms Habersham seems to manifest before Chick such that, ''at first he thought it was his uncle coming rapidly around the house ... because he no longer remembered anyone else available for it to have been "(fmruder, 86). The figure draws closer, becoming visible as she calls his name, "'Charles:' in that tense urgent whisper"(lntruder, 86). Chick hears her, then finally sees her, and when he s peaks to her and reveals his discussions with Lucas, he disco vers she is very different from others he knows. She had tried to persuade Gavin to further investigate Lucas's case rather than seek a plea deal but 61

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Gavin doesn "t listen to her. Comprehending the inadequacies of Gavin's southern code to proffer justice for Lucas, the aged woman explains to Chick: Naturally he [Lucas] wouldn't tell your uncle. He"s a Negro and your uncle's a man ... Lucas knevv it would take a child-or an old woman like me: someone not concerned with probability, with evidence. Men like your uncle ... have had to be men too long, busy too long (Intruder, 88). Habersham understands and communicates to Chick that Lucas had to find someone like them in order to save himself from vigilantes intent on destroying the black man who had allegedly shot a white man in the back. Only an outcast spinster and teenagers would heed Lucas's request to "violate the grave" of a white man "in order to save a nigger murderer from its vengeance"(lntrud e r 93 ). White men operating under the southern code (like Gavin Stevens, for example) would never take this step to dishonor a white man in such a way in order to save a black man from an alleged crime. Habersham is similar to Chick in that they both understand the southern code will operate to thwart legal justice for Lucas unless they take action. However, because Habersham had been invisible to Chick, this young man "only later. .. would realise his uncle was speaking to Miss Habersham too,'' when, regarding lynch mobs. Gavin 62

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bad said, "Lucas should have thought of that before he shot a white man in the back (Jntruder, 79). Carl Dimitri further describes the significance of Habersham's observations about the exchanges (or lack thereof) between Gavin and Lucas by noting that "being a man, or being busy "too long" implies that white men are preoccupied with maintaining power and order''( Dimitri, Carl The Faulkner Journal, 20). Dimitri is spot on: white men have had been preoccupied with maintaining power under the southern code rather than promoting legal justice under the law When the focus is on enforcing racial and classist precepts rather than the law truth and justice can be missed or become secondary considerations White men at the top of the social hierarchy in the southern code invest their time in "working within and affirming the rules established by a thoroughly racist order"( Dimitri, 20). Within this order, of course, Lucas is damned to be the victim of a mob lynching or, if he escapes the mob, a lifetime in prison under a plea deal. Chick understands that this is fundamentally v.rong. Pondering the words of his new guide, Chick notes, "what Miss Habersham paraphrased was simple truth not even fact and so there was not needed a great deal of diversification and originality to express it because truth was universal .. (lntruder, 88). With fortitude and leadership from Habersham, 63

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the pair set off to investig a te Luc as 's request which will prove his innocence (and thereby defy the southern code which assumes his guilt), even as Chick realizes they "have irrevocably accepted a gambit they are not at all certain they can cope with: only that they will resist it"(lntrud er, 87). Ms. Habersham's actions in guiding Chick to defy the southern code a code belonging to "they" who will resist -cannot be missed She drives in her produce truck to Vinson Gowrie's grave with Chick and his teenage Negro friend, Aleck Sander. Then as Chick and Aleck bore into the soil to retrieve the body of a dead man Ms. Habersham stands above the two teenagers, one white and one black, supervising, directing, and legitimi z ing their actions. When the three discover an empty coffin and realize Vinson's body has been removed in an eff011 to hide evidence that would exculpate a black man, the gravity and force of the southern code becomes apparent in a very tangible way Lorie Fulton observes that while digging into the soil, "Chick unearths something far more disturbing than a dead body ; he discovers the depth of Jefferson's ingrained racial prejudic es and realizes the lengths to which its citizens will go to maintain their self-serving ideology of white supremacy'"(Fulton, Lorie Watkins, The Southern Lit erw:1 Journal, 66) Fulton conectly notes the existence of the southem code, yet she fails to note the important symbolism of the action. Chick's deliberate invasion into the southern soil, "the dirt the 64

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earth which had bred his bones and those of his fathers for six generations .. "(Intruder 148) is a symbolic penetration of the southern code. As he digs into the eat1h under the guidance and authorization of Ms. Habersham, this "intruder in the dust" cracks the foundation of the so uthern code and literally embarks on a ground-breaking joumey that will reveal a new vision of social justice. A powerful deterrent in this pursuit still remains in the ch a racter of Gavin Stevens. If he is to escape the southern code, Chick must become capable of resisting the spell of the code promulgated by his eloquent uncle. Dimitri notes how "one of Chick's challenges in his passage to manhood and in his fight for liberty is to escape the immobilizing effect of Stevens' lectures"(Dimitri, 21 ) A more fitting tem1 for Gavin's lectures would be "paralyzing." Faulkner does not present characters who become temporarily stuck in the c ode's ideology b e fore they are later freed. Ci tizens of Yoknapatawpha are locked in the code's p a ralysis and Chick is in d a nger of becoming a pem1anent disciple to the so uth ern code. Once again Ms. Habers ham intercedes to assi st Chick at this pivotal juncture. Contrary to all other chara cter s in the nov e l Ms. Habersham does n o t fall under the hypnotic spell of Gavin Stevens when he perpetuates the southem code with his enchanting rhetoric. Near the end of the novel, Gavin, as usual, is s peaking hi s thoughts, the words 65

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dancing offofhis lips while he "talk[s] through the pipe stem with the smoke as though you were watching the words themselves,''(Intruder, 221) when suddenly Chick is distracted by something he had never previously noticed. Chick breaks from Gavin's hypnotic tale a remarkable occurrence in itself, and he watches Ms. Habersham recoil in response to Gavin's discourse. Gavin is talking about the Gowrie murder when Chick notices "there it was again and this time he knew what it was Miss Habersham had done something he didn't know what ... something had occurred, not something happened to her from the outside in but something from the inside outward ... and his uncle hadn't even noticed '(lntruder, 222). Something coming from the inside outward from the woman with a golden heart has caught the attention of Chick. He continues watching Ms. Habersham until she suddenly interrupts Gavin, interjecting "[h]e [Crawford Gowrie] put him [Vinson Gowrie] in quicksand." Gavin quickly replies, "Ghastly wasn't it," before immediately continuing with his tale using his words to numb how ghastly the fratricide really was. Gavin has no emotional reaction when he speaks of the murder. Ms. Habersham is terribly disturbed by the tale; she does not accept it as a simply fact and dismiss the emotional and immoral aspects of the crime as easily as Gavin does. Chick notices her continue to react initably to Gavin's speech until she interrupts the lawyer a final 66

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time. With a "calm and implacable finality," Habersham moves her hand to the golden brooch at her bosom, and states "[h]e put his brother in quicksand"(Jntruder, 226). Ms. Habersham speaks from a position separated from the racism and classism endemic to the southern code. As Chick astutely noted on his first meeting with her outside Gavin's office, she speaks consistently in a "simple truth." The simple truth is that a man killed his own brother over a matter involving timber, and then threw his brother into quicksand to conceal the evidence. Gavin does not balk at these details. To him, the Gowries are white trash: they don't matter under the southern code, their travails and decrepit morality are ofno consequence. To Habersham the Gowries are more than trash they are human beings, and, regardless of their class, such an act is an abomination, and a sin against nature which cannot be dismissed. Importantly, as she constantly interrupts a man of law and power and questions his perspective Ms. Habersham demonstrates that she is skeptical of Gavin's southern code. Even more importantly, she does this in the presence of Chick Mallison, who is also forced to reexamine the words offered by his uncle. She is no longer invisible to this young man, she hasn't been since she started working with him and Chick discovers the reality she inhabits outside of and contrary to the southern code. 67

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Because he is exposed to the possibility of an alternative explanation represented by Habersham, Chick becomes the hope for future change in Y oknapatawpha. This boy has broadened his perspective to include wider sympathies and a sharper ethical conscience. More importantly, Chick Mallison changes into a character that has developed the strength to challenge the beliefs advanced by the ruling elite, here embodied in the character of Gavin Stevens. In the final chapters of the novel Gavin is discussing the difference between killing a black man and killing a sibling when Chick probes by asking So for a Jot of Gowries and Workitts [white men] to bum Lucas Beauchamp to death with gasoline for something he didn't even do is one thing but for a Gowrie to murder his brother is another.' 'Yes,' his uncle said. 'You cant say that,' he [Chick] said"(lntruder, 196) This is not a single outlying occurrence, it becomes a trend, and it signals Chick s growth away from the ideology of his uncle. It happens again later, when Gavin is offering another of his lectures Chick interrupts him and avers, "No. that's not true''(lntruder, 234 ). Gavin continues telling his tale when Chick again resolutely tells Gavin "I still don't believe it" (Intruder 234) The gravity behind this occurrence of Chick vocally disagreeing with his uncle should not be dismissed. After he has witnessed Habersham's skepticism regarding Gavin's stories, Chick is emboldened to voice his own response to the 68

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lawyer who puts his spin on reality. In doing so Chick emerges at the end of the novel far different from the young adolescent who listened to his uncle's stories and let them (and the code operating within) penneate his mind. Gavin notic es this change in Chick, and the elder encourages his protege to "just don't stop" believing in a different code that is not laden with the flaws and biases of the code holding dominion in the South While Gavin comes to s upport Chick in his efforts to set Lucas free, Gavin s till remains inculcated with the ideology ofthe southem code. Still, after witnessing the bra ze n ac tions taken against the so uthem code by Chick and Habersham he ad mit s, ma y be I m not too old to leam either"(Jntruder, 124 ). D es pite this, Gavin places his hope for the future in his nephew, telling him "It's all right to be righteous, maybe you were right and they were wrong. Just don't stop (Jntruder, 205). "Just don't s top" becomes a mantra that Gavin repeats to Chick many time s over. At the conclusion of the novel the lawyer light s his pipe and tells Chick: you and Mi ss Habersham ... did not only what nobody expected you to but all Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha County would hav e risen in active concord for once to pre ve nt you if the y had known in time and even a year from now some .. will r emember with di sa ppro va l and dista s t e not that you were ghouls nor that you defied yo ur color. .. but that you violated a white grave to save a nigger so you had every reason why you s hould have. Just don't stop (Intrud er, 236). 69

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Chick Mallison epitomizes Faulkner's hope for the next generation in dealing with and moving beyond the southem code. This is illustrated in a pivotal scene when Chick returns to the jail house alone to visit Lucas a second time. Through his interaction with Lucas, the reader observes Chick's denial ofthe reigning social hierarchy and its strict social borders. When Chick calls to Lucas to come talk to him, the black man is seen, "approaching, taking hold of two of the bars as a child stands inside a fence"(Jntruder 67). Then, remarkably, the narrator reveals how "'looking down he saw his own hands holding to two of the bars, the two pairs of hands, the black ones and the white ones, grasping the bars while they faced one another above them: 'All right,' he said"(Jntruder, 67). All right indeed. Chick and Lucas at this moment are both reaching out towards the other as their arms grasp the steel bars that separate them. These steel bars remind us of a sturdy barrier that stands between the two races: a well established bunker that distances the races within the southern code. This image suggests that "both races are somehow unfree, both enslaved to a condition devoid ofbrotherhood andjustice"(Dimitri, 19); while black people suffer from a literal oppression, Faulkner indicates the white person, as a consequence ofthis oppression, "is jailed by his own guilt, shame, and spiritual unease"(Dimitri, 19). As they acknowledge each other's struggle behind the prison bars, Chick and Lucas represent a new 70

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relationship between the races. The two are ambassadors of a new potential that goes beyond the southern code, whereby whites acknowledge their debt to blacks for an era of racism under the southern code, and they vow to personally pursue justice under the law. Unlike both Sanctumy and Light in August, the narrative of Intruder in the Dust does not end in tragedy. Legal justice is achieved, the southern code does not destroy an accused black murderer, and Lucas is set free. Though Lucas is never publicly exonerated in the novel and the heroism of Chick, Aleck, and Ms. Habersham is not acknowledged, the efforts of these characters reshape the beliefs of individuals located in and beyond Yoknapatawpha. This personal reflection on beliefs held by the individual, Faulkner believed, was a necessary prelude to challenging and renegotiating the southern code. This occurrence was important enough for Faulkner to recommend to his readers that, among all his novels, they first read Intruder in the Dust, because it "deals with the problem which is most important not only in my country, but ... important to all people"(MeJTiwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, Lion in the Garden, 166 ). In constructing a polemic where the plight of a licit black man permeates the conscience of an entire county, Faulkner suggests a future where innocence will no longer be sacrificed for the sake of the 71

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southern code. But, as we witnessed with the individual actions of Chick, Habersham, and Lucas, it all must start with the individual. By placing his characters in a setting suffering beneath the racist and classist mores of a pervasive southern code, Faulkner offers a critique on the proud South, its scourge of slavery and lingering caste system which afflicts both blacks and poor whites, and its enduring interconnectivity in race, class, and the law. Judge Drake enters as a symbol of the power of the southern code that will not be challenged, while his daughter, Temple Drake, discovers a world of depravity when she is removed from the fetters of the southern code's paternal protection. Weak legal idealists such as Horace Benbow demonstrate the fate reserved for those who do not understand or respect the power of the code, while a different attorney, Gavin Stevens, promulgates the southern code with his enchanting speech. When Lee Goodwin and Joe Christmas are destroyed by Percy Grimm and other vigilantes, Faulkner demonstrates the way Southerners defied the law to maintain the racist and classist ideology of their southern code. Still, Faulkner offers a hope for the future of the South with Chick Mallison, Lucas Beauchamp, and Ms. Habersham, an outcast old spinster who serves as a guide and altemative influence on 72

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Chick. Ms Habersham assists Chick, representative ofthe next generation in understanding the perversion of justice latent in the racist southern code, and she guides him in escaping its dominion and towards a pursuit of justice under the law. Due to their actions, an accused black man is granted legal justice and freedom, and that public spectacle of condemnation and racial subjugation once witnessed by a ten-year-old William Faulkner in Oxforda lynching is averted. In his now famous Nobel Prize acceptance speech given in Stockholm in 1950, Faulkner declared, "I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance"(Berland, 1 04). With this, we understand that though his fiction paints a grim portrait of the southern code and its wrath in the South-complete with its subversion of justice, its racial and classist subjugation, and its destruction of innocent men Faulkner is clear in his belief that through individual efforts to pursue enduring legal justice, the South will escape the dominion of the southern code. 73

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WORKS CITED Baker, Ronald L. "Ritualized Violence and Local Journalism in the Development of a Lynching Legend." Fabula 29.3 (1988): 317325. Berland, Alwyn. Light in August, a in Bla c k and White. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1965. Dimitri Carl. "Go Down, Moses and Intrud er in the Dust: From Negative to Positive Liberty ." The Faulkn erJourna/19. 1 (2003): 11-27 Donaldson, Susan V. "Light in August, Faulkner's Angels of History, and the Culture of Jim Crow." In Faulkner's Inh eri tan ce: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha, 2005, edited by Joseph R. Urgo and Ann J. Abadie, 101-123. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi 2007. Faulkner, William. ln!ruder in the Dust. New York: Vintage Books, 1948. ----------. Light in August. New York: Vintage Books, 1932 ---------. Sanctuwy. New York: Vintage Books, 1931. Fulton, Lorie Watkins. "Intruder in the Past." The Southern Literwy J ournal38.2 (2006): 64-73. Gwynn, Frederick L., and Joseph L Blotner, eds Faulkner in rhe [ ; nil ers i(v. Charlottesville: University Pre ss of Virginia, 1995. Hale Grace Elizabeth. Making Whiteness: The Culture of'Segregarion in the South, 1890-1940. New York: Vintage, 1999. Harri s, Trudier. Exorcising Blackness: Histori ca l and LiTerary Lynching and Burning Rituals. Bloominton: Indiana UP, 1984. 74

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Howe, Irving. William Faulkner, A Critical Study. New York: Random House, 1952. Jackson, Chuck. "American Emergencies: Whiteness, The National Guard, and Light in August." The Faulkner Journa/22, I -2 (Fall 2006/ Spring 2007): I 93-208. Klotman, Phyllis R. "Tearing a Hole in History: Lynching as Theme and Motif." Black American Literature Forum 19.2 (I 985): 55-63. Lahey, Michael. "Women and Law in Faulkner." Wom en's Studies 22 (1993): 517-524. Merriwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, eds. Lion in the Garden: lnt el"l'iews with ff"i!!iam Faulkner: 1926-1962. New York: Random House, 1968. Nelson, Lisa. "Masculinity, Menace, and American Mythologies of Race in Faulkner's Anti-Heroes ." The Faulkner Journa/19.2 (2004): 49-68 Peavy, Charles D. Go Slow Nov..: Faulkner and the Race Question. Eugene: University of Oregon Books, 1971. Sassoubre, Ticien Marie. "Avoiding Adjudication in William Faulkner's Go Dmvn, Moses and Intruder in the Dust.'' Criticism 49.2 (2008): 183-214. Schreiber, Evelyn Jaffe. "The Sum of Your Ancestty: Cultural Context and f11truder in the Dust.'' In A Gath e ring (?f \'id e nce: Essays on William Faulkn er's Intruder in the Dust, edited by Michel Gresset and Patrick Samway, 251-258. New York: Fordham University Press, 2004. Sugimori, Masami. "Signifying, Ordering, and Containing the Chaos: Whiteness, Ideology and Language in 1ntmder in the Dust." The Faulkner Joumal (Fall 2006 / Spring 2007): 54-73. Tebbet TetTell. "Sanctuary, Marriage, and the Status of Women in 1920s America.'' The Faulkner Juunwl 19 I (2003 ) : 4 7-60 75

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Tolnay, Stewa11 E, and E.M. Beck. A Festiml of Violence: An of Southern Lynchings, 1882-1930. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, I 995. Vickery, Olga. "Crime and Punishment: Sanctumy." In Faulkner. A Collection ofCritical Essays, edited by Robert Penn WaJTen. 127-136. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966 WaJTen, Robert Penn, ed. Faulkner. A Collection o(Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1966. Watson, Jay. Forensic Fictions. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993. Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern HistOJ)'. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. ----------. A Rage for Order: Black / White Relations in the American South Since Emancipation. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986. Woodward, C. Vann. Origins of the Ne>1 South. 1877-1913. New Orleans: Louisiana State University Press, 1951. 76