Boston, Massachusetts (Location Key)


Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and its largest city. Quentin spends part of the last day of his life there in The Sound and the Fury: in a restaurant, a jeweler's and a hardware store - those places each have a separate entry in this index, but it should perhaps be noted here that Faulkner uses Boston and its environs in that novel, first, as his equivalent to the Dublin that Bloom wanders through in Joyce's Ulysses, and also as a representation of modernity along the lines of T.S. Eliot's "Unreal City" in The Waste Land: his 'Boston' is urban, industrial, squalid, and non-Anglo-Saxon. In a sense it's the antithesis of the Old South, at least as Quentin nostalgically conceives that time and place. Similarly, The Hamlet uses "Boston" as a kind of cultural shorthand to represent 'the North'; V.K. Ratliff refers to "Boston, Maine" - probably with his tongue in his cheek - as a different kind of place from Yoknapatawpha (89). Go Down, Moses uses "Boston" to represent the same kind of distinction, though in that context it is associated in particular with the abolitionists whose anti-slavery campaign helped bring on the Civil War: that text refers not just to "the New England mechanics" and [Boston] "bankers," but also, disparagingly, to "the Boston-bred (even when not born in Boston) spinster descendants of long lines of similarly-bred and likewise spinster aunts and uncles whose hands knew no callus except that of the indicting pen" and whose civilized world was defined by Boston's "Beacon Hill" (273). In Requiem for a Nun "Boston" is one of four non-Southern cities (along with "Chicago and Kansas City and Philadelphia") that is cited as an epitome of municipal political corruption (192). Harvard, the prestigious university in Cambridge, Massachusetts, just next to Boston, is mentioned as one of the places at which the novel's hypothetical non-Southern reader may have been educated: "yourself the stranger, the outlander from B.A. (or perhaps even M.A.) at Harvard or Northwestern or Stanford" (205).

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