Alabama (Location Key)


Alabama figures in a dozen different texts. The real town of Florence, in northwestern Alabama, is mentioned in two of them: "Hair," where it is one of the places where Hawkshaw works as a barber, and The Reivers, where it is the ultimate destination of the train that the 'reivers' take from Memphis to Parsham. Alabama's largest city, Birmingham, is where Popeye is arrested for a murder he didn't commit: this is mentioned in both Sanctuary and Requiem for a Nun. Popeye spends time in two other places in the state: Mobile, on the Gulf of Mexico, and the unnamed Alabama town where (in Sanctuary) he is tried and executed (in Requiem he is hanged as well as arrested in Birmingham). Faulkner calls the city where Elly's aunt lives in "Elly" 'Mills City'; this is probably a fictional name for Birmingham, which was founded just after the Civil War to be an industrial center - like the city in England after which it was named. The other major Alabama location in "Elly" is a sharp curve on the road that leads into and out of Mills City. Emily Grierson, in "A Rose for Emily," has "two female cousins" who live somewhere in the state. The border between Mississippi and Alabama is not far from the fictional site of Yoknapatawpha, and in The Unvanquished stories, set during the Civil War, Granny, Bayard and Ringo travel there to recover the Sartoris silver from the Yankee army, which has moved eastward after conquering Mississippi. On the way they stay overnight at Hawkhurst, the Alabama plantation that belongs to Granny's sister's family. The several Alabama locations in "Raid," the Unvanquished story that describes their journey, have their own entries in our database (on the road, Hawkhurst, Union camp) but this entry includes the passage in the later story, "The Unvanquished," where Bayard recalls the trip. And the Unvanquished story "Vendee" features one other Alabama location, the farm where Bayard, Ringo and Buddy McCaslin find the injured woman and boy during their pursuit of the outlaw who killed Granny. Although these stories show the effects of the Civil War, Faulkner makes only indirect references to any of the combat that took place in the state. It is just after the war ends that the daughter of the jailer in Jefferson, named Cecelia Farmer in Requiem, travels with her new husband, a Confederate lieutenant from Alabama, to his "small hill farm" (185) about "a hundred miles" from Jefferson (203); the narrative never takes us there, but does mention the "dozen" boys she gives birth to - an increase in the population of Alabama that as far as I can recall is not equaled by any of the families who come to or remain in Faulkner's Mississippi.

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