Uncle Willy Christian

Display Name: 
Uncle Willy Christian
Sort Name: 
Christian, Uncle Willy
Race: 
White
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Middle Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Dies
Occupation: 
Sales and Service
Specific Job: 
Drugstore Owner
Date of Birth: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1868 to Wednesday, December 31, 1873
Origin: 
Jefferson
Cause of Death: 
Accident
Other Texts: 
Biography: 

Willy's last name is Christian, his first name is probably William, and as the narrator says, "he wasn't anybody's uncle" (225). The narrator and the other boys with whom Willy associates call him "uncle" as a sign of affection. Other people call him "Mr. Christian and Uncle Willy and Willy, according to how old they were or how long they had lived in Jefferson" (230). He was born in Jefferson soon after the end of the Civil War, the son of a man who opened a drugstore in town in the 1850s; Willy still owns the store, but keeps it mainly as a way to supply his own morphine addiction. The narrator twice calls Willy "the finest man I ever knew" (225, 239), though to "the good women in Jefferson" (225) he is a sinner who must be "saved" (238), which is to say both "cured" of his addictions - first to morphine, then to alcohol, then to Memphis prostitutes (one of whom he marries), finally to the thrill of flying - and restored to an adult role in "the practical world," from which he dropped out at some point long before the story begins (232). The narrative is very un-Faulknerian in its refusal to provide any details about Willy's past - although Willy himself does mention that he "graduated from a university" (245); the narrator either does not know how the sixty-year-old man became so estranged from adult life, or is satisfied with the reason he himself supplies for Willy's unconventional behavior: "he had had fun all his life in spite of what they had tried to do to him" (239). Willy seems to be summing up his life when, after asking those good women to "please go to hell," he says he wants to get there at his "own gait" (231). Deciding how Faulkner wants readers to view this 60-year-old man whom the narrator worships and the town condemns, who is both child-like and willing to allow real children to help him inject morphine or steal alcohol, and whose death may be as much a suicide as an accident, is one of the story's challenges.

Property Status: 
owns house
owns business
Individual or Group: 
Individual
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Character