Secretary

Display Name: 
Secretary
Sort Name: 
Secretary
Race: 
Black
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Free Black
Rank: 
Secondary
Vitality: 
Alive
Occupation: 
Domestic Service
Specific Job: 
Chauffeur|Pilot
Biography: 

Secretary is the "negro boy" whom Willy hires to drive his car (235). In Faulkner's South, even adult black men are often called "boys" by white people, so although the juvenile narrator says that Secretary is "about my size" (235), he also says that Secretary is "older than me" (241) - though we have no way to know how much older. Both the narrator and Willy describe Secretary as "burr-headed," i.e. with short, bristly hair (235). In some respects the story casts him in a stereotypical role for a black servant; he not only serves Willy faithfully, "he reckoned he belonged to Uncle Willy" (235); the narrator's father refers to both Secretary and Job as "just irresponsible niggers" (245). But in other ways Secretary could be said to challenge stereotypical assumptions of black inferiority; he learns "pretty quick" to drive the car even in Memphis traffic (236), and later, when Willy buys an airplane, Secretary learns to fly "in two weeks" (245). He may, in fact, be the earliest example in American literature of an African American aviator.

Individual or Group: 
Individual

digyok:node/character/13603