Beat Four Boundary Line (Location Key)


Like real Mississippi counties, Yoknapatawpha is divided into administrative districts called "beats"; Joel Williamson suggests that that term, with its police background, acknowledges the importance of "the policing of slaves" to the state's antebellum white population (William Faulkner and Southern History, 78). When Lafayette County, the real county on which Faulkner's is based, was created in 1836, it was divided into four beats; later a fifth was formed by sub-dividing Beat 4. Readers of Intruder in the Dust learn that Yoknapatawpha similarly contains five "beats" (35). The novel never makes clear where "Beat One and Two and Three and Five" are (194), but notes that the county's northeast quadrant is regularly referred to as "Beat Four." (According to Williamson's account, the southern half of Lafayette is made up of Beats 4 and 5. In The Mansion, on the other hand, the southeastern quadrant which includes Frenchman's Bend is Beat Two. That later novel also calls the northeastern part "Beat Nine," though that may be by mistake; see the entry in this index for Beat Nine.) In Intruder 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). Beat Four has a "constable" who works for the sheriff's office, 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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Beat Four Boundary Line
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Beat Four Boundary Line