Beyond|Heaven (Location Key)


By placing the icon for "Heaven" above the "World" on the world maps for "Beyond" and Absalom, Absalom!, we are not trying to make a theological statement. When Brother Fortinbride preaches Granny's eulogy in "Vendee" and confidently predicts "where she has gone," we can agree or not, depending on our beliefs. But our project requires every 'Event' to have a 'Location' and every 'Location' to appear on a map, so when Faulkner sets a scene with Flem Snopes in hell (in The Hamlet) or with Sutpen and Wash in heaven (in Absalom!) or with Judge Allison in a place called "Beyond" in the story with that name, while we wince at the way the way the limits of our scheme can bump up the complexities of his imagination, we have our job to do. "Hell" has its own Location. This entry represents the other two places, treating them as similar enough to bring together. Absalom! describes the place to which both Sutpen and the man who killed him "maybe" have both gone as "serene, pleasant, unmarked by time or change of weather," and even with a new "scuppernong" arbor in which they can sit - and where, curiously, their war against the Yankees can continue (152). Most of "Beyond" takes place in a landscape that the story carefully refuses to name, or to attach to any particular religion. It's not even clear whether it is an actual place or just a product of the judge's imagination. But "Beyond" has certain distinct features. It has a "narrow entrance" (795) through which arrivals crowd and at which some people seem to linger in wait for others to arrive. Inhabitants seem to be able to wander there at will, and it has features of a conventional earthly landscape: a bench, for example, "inside a park" (788) where a child plays in the dust with his toys (792) and a boy named Howard "rides past every day on his pony" (794). It contains people who have killed themselves, who carry weapons, who have money and tobacco, and who have servants, as well as middle-class and poorer folks. It is possible to leave Beyond, as the judge does, but everyone he meets seems to be content to remain there, even characters who on Earth doubted or denied the existence of an afterlife.

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