Gavin Stevens

Character Key: 
Display Name: 
Gavin Stevens
Sort Name: 
Stevens, Gavin
Race: 
White
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Upper Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Alive
Family: 
Stevens
Occupation: 
Professional
Specific Job: 
Lawyer
Date of Birth: 
Tuesday, January 1, 1895 to Friday, December 31, 1897
Origin: 
Jefferson
Biography: 

The most educated man in Yoknapatawpha - Harvard, Heidelberg and the "State University" law school (3) - Gavin Stevens is one of Faulkner's favorite characters. In Intruder in the Dust he plays three main roles: public, personal and rhetorical. Although no longer the county's District Attorney, as both a lawyer and the descendant of one of the oldest families in Jefferson, he acts with the Sheriff to handle the crisis precipitated by the killing of Vinson Gowrie (and is even consulted by the school superintendent about closing the schools, 132). Although Chick Mallison's father is alive and present, it is his Uncle Gavin who presides over the boy's maturation: Gavin's voice, speaking aloud or in Chick's thoughts, provides a kind of soundtrack to the story. To Chick it seems to articulate "everything which as he himself became more and more a man he had found to be true" (190) - though at one crucial moment in the text Chick decides to stop listening to "the significantless speciosity of his uncle's voice" (78). And to many readers, what Gavin tells Chick about the South, the North, the issue of race relations and the future of the nation also serves as a way for Faulkner to speak from the pages of the novel to his contemporaries, to define his position on the place of the black man in the white south and the place of the white south in the larger nation.

Social Status: 
has influential social contacts (family, business, political)
Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 

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