V.K. Ratliff

Character Key: 
Display Name: 
V.K. Ratliff
Sort Name: 
Ratliff, V.K.
AKA: 
Vladimir Kyrilitch Ratliff
V.K. Suratt
Race: 
White
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Lower Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Alive
Occupation: 
Sales and Service
Specific Job: 
Itinerant Saleman
Narrator: 
First Person
Biography: 

V.K. Ratliff, an itinerant sewing machine and radio salesman, is unmarried, intelligent, observant, and highly articulate in his regional vernacular. He is portrayed as a down-to-earth intellectual, a "rural bucolic grassroots philosopher and Cincinnatus" (391). As Gavin Stevens's "special crony" (391), he serves as a counterpoint to the former's cosmopolitanism; despite Ratliff being "unschooled, untravelled, and to an extent unread, Ratliff had a terrifying capacity for knowledge or local information . . . to match the need of any local crisis" (419). He keeps track of the Snopeses' behavior in Jefferson and intervenes at key moments, such as to cause Clarence Snopes's downfall in his political campaign and to help secure the early release of Mink Snopes. V.K. stands for Vladimir Kyrilytch, a family name passed down through the generations since the American Revolution, "one Ratliff in every generation for them whole hundred and fifty years since your durn Yankee Congress banished us into the Virginia mountains" (175); he explores his ancestral roots during a trip north-east to New York and Saratoga with Gavin Stevens. He is one of Faulkner's favorite characters, a major figure in the Snopes trilogy, and one of the several first-person narrators in both The Town and The Mansion.

Individual or Group: 
Individual
Character changes class in this text: 

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