Beat 4 Boundary Line in Intruder in the Dust (Location)

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Beat Four
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Context (text, as interpreted)

In this novel Faulkner's readers learn that Yoknapatawpha is sub-divided into five "beats" that are based on "survey co-ordinates" (35). The novel never makes clear where "Beat One and Two and Three and Five" are (194), noting that only Beat Four is known by this numerical designation. The boundary line for Beat Four is specifically "five miles from town" at the start of the pine hills to the northeast of Jefferson (91). As the word "beats" suggests, administratively the purpose of these divisions seems to be to organize the policing of the county, with each "beat" having its own "constable" who works for the sheriff's office. Beat Four has a constable like the others, but is described as a law unto itself; as one townsman says, "Hope Hampton might be sheriff in Yoknapatawpha County but he's just another man in Beat Four" (39). This "region of lonely pine hills dotted meagrely with small tilted farms" is inhabited by "brawlers and farmers and foxhunters and stock- and timber-traders" along with "whiskeymakers" for whom the hills that make it hard to grow cotton or more corn than a moonshiner needs remind the inhabitants of "the Scottish highlands" their ancestors came from (145). The hills also serve as the ramparts of their "stronghold against the county and the federal government too" (35). The name "Beat Four" is a "synonym for independence and violence" (35). According to "a local wit," "the only stranger ever to enter in [to Beat Four] with impunity was God and He only by daylight and on Sunday" (35). After dark, "strange white men" passing through stay close to the highway, and "no Negro" goes there at all (35).

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