Flem Snopes' Bungalow (Location Key)


It's interesting that in the Yoknapatawpha fictions several characters live in something that Faulkner calls a 'bungalow': the Gants (in "Miss Zilphia Gant"), the "Gavin Stevenses" in Requiem for a Nun, Jason Compson in The Mansion - and as one of the rungs on the ladder he climbs from a sharecropper's cabin to the mansion of a bank president, Flem Snopes. Flem's bungalow is first mentioned first in "Centaur in Brass": "a new little bungalow on the edge of town" in an poor neighborhood where half the little houses are "inhabited by Negroes," and "scrapped automobiles and tin cans" litter the yards and ditches (168). But apparently there's no relationship between living in a bungalow and economic or class status, since in Requiem Temple Drake Gowan refers to their residence as "a new bungalow on the right [i.e. fashionable] street" (124). The combination of these two passages suggests that for Faulkner the term 'bungalow' signifies a more recently-built place, without any of the grace of the older Jefferson homes - but that's not ever made explicit. In "Centaur" and The Mansion Flem's bungalow is just mentioned, but it's an important site in The Town. He lives there with his wife Eula and daughter Linda. It's "a small rented house in a back street near the edge of town" (9). Behind it is it is a big ditch where Gowan hides "every afternoon for almost a week" watching to see if his Uncle Gavin is spying on Mrs. Snopes (55). The house itself has a "flimsy porch" or "gallery" on which Flem sits and keeps an eye on the water tank after resigning his post at the power plant (30, 31). Referred to as "Mrs. Snopes's house" and "Linda's house" by various narrators, Chick Mallison speculates that Flem must have bought it after he became vice president of the bank "because they had begun to fix it up. It was painted now and Mrs. Snopes I reckon had had the wistaria arbor in the side yard fixed up" and hung the hammock under it (198). When Gavin Stevens visits Eula he learns that Flem indeed purchased the house four years previously. It was also Flem who acquired the furnishings from a store in Memphis, paying the owner's wife to select the pieces. According to Gavin, the house is decorated to be a reproduction of a photograph in "say Town and Country labeled American Interior" (231): "the coffee, the low table, the two intimate chairs" that Gavin views as an "assault not on the glands nor even just the stomach but on the civilised soul which believes it thirsts to be civilised" (231).