IkkemotubbesInGDM

Most readers probably know the Ikkemotubbe|Issetibbeha family best from the way their story is linked to the McCaslin-Edmonds-Beauchamp story in this 1942 novel. They are linked through what could be considered a third, non-biological but recognizably familial relationship between Sam Fathers and Ike McCaslin, who commune across racial, cultural and generational lines that seem almost to disappear in the wilderness. The novel's treatment of Sam's Indian family as a family is much less resonant. It adds a new and potentially moving note of pathos to the story Faulkner has so often told before about Ikkemotubbe's rise to power when it provides his cousin, Moketubbe, with an eight-year-old son who is almost certainly killed by Ikkemotubbe; there is no mention of a parent's grief or any other human feeling, however, in its brief report of either the event or Moketubbe's subsequent "abdication" (158). And a new inconsistency appears in the family's genealogy: when the Chickasaw chief Issetibbeha is first mentioned, in "The Old People" chapter, he is identified by the narrator as the "uncle" of Ikkemotubbe (157), but when talking with his cousin in "The Bear" chapter, Ike refers to "Ikkemotubbe's father old Issetibbeha" (245). There is no textual reason to attribute the lapse to Ike rather than Faulkner. (Our graph represents him as an uncle, the place he occupies in all but one of the other texts.) Yet the novel's description of Sam's enslaved mother not as a "Negro" but as a "quadroon" (157) - that is, someone with three white and one black grandparents - connects the story of Sam's family in new ways to the recurring wrongs of Southern history, and makes his own body the tragic scene of the conflict that remains unresolved whether he lives as a "Negro" in society or an "Indian" in the woods. Ike tells his cousin that "Sam Fathers set me free" (285), but Sam himself has no similar opportunity to renounce his lost patrimony - or his inheritance from his mother.

Display Name: 
Go Down, Moses
Sort Name: 
Ikkemotubbe Family in Go Down, Moses
Family Key: 

Affiliated Characters

Ikkemotubbe - Go Down, Moses
Issetibbeha - Go Down, Moses
Issetibbeha's Sister - Go Down, Moses
Moketubbe - Go Down, Moses
Moketubbe's Son - Go Down, Moses
Sam Father's Step-Father - Go Down, Moses
Sam Fathers - Go Down, Moses