Ned William McCaslin

Character Key: 
Display Name: 
Ned William McCaslin
Sort Name: 
McCaslin, Ned William
Parent: 
Race: 
MixedBlackWhite
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Free Black
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Dies
Family: 
McCaslin
Family (new): 
Occupation: 
Domestic Service
Specific Job: 
Coachman
Date of Birth: 
Sunday, January 1, 1860 to Monday, December 31, 1860
Biography: 

Introduced into the story as "Grandfather's coachman" (31), Ned McCaslin plays a major role in the narrative, and becomes, at times at least, one of Faulkner's most complex African American characters. Lucius calls him "our family skeleton" (31). He was "born in the McCaslin back yard in 1860," at which time he would have been enslaved (31). His grandfather is Lucius McCaslin, the white man who owned his mother - and after whom Lucius himself is named. In 1905 he is married to the Priest family's cook (one of his four wives). Lucius' mother wants her children to call him "Uncle" Ned. She is a McCaslin-Edmonds, and may intend to acknowledge the family relationship, but it is also possible that she is using "Uncle" in its familiar cultural sense: to patronize a black male. Lucius notes, for example, that Ned is "not Uncle Remus" around himself, "members of his own race," or when treated as a fellow human being by a white man like Sam Caldwell (178). That uncertainty on this point reflects the ambiguous way he is depicted in the narrative: at times as a figure of comedy, with a clownish laugh and an affinity for larceny that leads the "reivers" into much of the trouble that befalls them; at others as an intelligent man whose race exposes him to shameful abuses, and whose scheming seems entirely justified by his social disenfranchisement. He dies at age 74.

Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 
Date of Death: 
Monday, January 1, 1934 to Monday, December 31, 1934

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