Mrs. Res Grier

Character Key Number: 
446
Display Name: 
Mrs. Res Grier
Sort Name: 
Grier, Mrs. Res
Parent Character Key: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 
Yes
Biography: 

In "Two Soldiers," the first of the three stories about the Grier family that Faulkner published in 1942 and 1943, the mother of the 'soldiers' is called "Maw." Unlike her shiftless husband, although she wishes her son Pete wasn't determined to enlist, she accepts his decision to do so. Through her tears, she sends him off with mended and clean clothes and "a shoe box of vittles" (85). She also functions something as a family bridge between the World Wars, as her brother served in World War I. In the second story, "Shingles for the Lord," her role is much smaller; there she 'mothers' her husband with liniment and toddy. The same narrator who called her Maw at first calls her "Mother" in the third story, "Shall Not Perish, where she takes center stage. In this story about men at war (including her grandfather and brother, who fought in the Civil War and World War I, respectively), Faulkner uses her as the voice of sympathy, wisdom and resilient patriotism. She also brings Yoknapatawpha's highest and lowest white classes together when, as the mother of a son who has died in the fighting in the Pacific, she consoles Major de Spain over the loss of his son. As she does so, her voice loses any vernacular inflections, sounding more like Faulkner will over the coming decades: "All men are capable of shame. . . . Just as all men are capable of courage and honor and sacrifice. And grief too. It will take time, but they will learn it. It will take more grief than yours and mine, and there will be more. But it will be enough" (108).