Horace and Narcissa's sibling relationship is still close to the center of this novel, but the latent sexual passions that seemed to define it in Flags in the Dust have been pushed outside the family and made all-too-explicit in the book's sensational scenes of lust and voyeurism, prostitution and rape. Horace's relationship with his wife's daughter is contaminated by desires that he cannot acknowledge, but strictly speaking Little Belle Mitchell is not a Benbow. The scenes between brother and sister are intense, and one even takes place with her sitting on his bed in the dark, but what pulls them together and apart here is the collision between Horace's Quixotic pursuit of justice and Narcissa's fierce obsession with her genteel reputation. Although the novel takes place a decade after Flags, the Benbow house in Jefferson is still there; as a family home, however, it is devoid of any memories older than Horace. Narcissa does mention "our father and mother" to him (118, 184), but only to enlist their shades in her campaign to refuse him any emotional sanctuary in what she calls "my house." Both the family past and the sibling relationship have been attenuated to a vanishing point. Nor, despite the minor presence of Narcissa's son, is the novel interested in imagining a future for the Benbow family.

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Benbows in Sanctuary
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