Choctaw|Chickasaw Plantation (Location Key)


Faulkner uses the Indian settlement at the northern edge of what (about the same time the Indians themselves were removed) became known as 'Yoknapatawpha County' as the setting for three stories: "Red Leaves," "A Justice" and "A Courtship." The narrators of these stories and (in some cases) the Indians themselves refer to the settlement as a "plantation." The word 'plantation' pre-dates American slavery, and can refer to any large estate or new colony, but of course in Faulkner's world it is deeply saturated with the slave-owning economy of the Old South. One way to read the Choctaw plantation described in "Red Leaves" - about a slave trying to escape his fate at the hands of the people who claim to own him - is as the imaginative screen onto which Faulkner can project his earliest fictional representation of slavery. No white people appear in the story, but the plantation itself reveals the presence of the white settlers who have brought slavery into the Indians' world: the Choctaws have built a "quarters" (313), even "putting the young Negroes in the cabins in pairs to mate" (320) and increase the tribe's wealth; in an attempt to imitate the 'big house' of a Southern slave plantation the chief's house includes "the deck house" of a wrecked steamboat that had been hauled overland (317), and inside it are several artifacts European civilization which Issetibbeha, one of the chiefs, brought back into the woods of north Mississippi from a trip to Paris - including a "gilt bed" and "a pair of girandoles" (320). The plantation sits "in the center of ten thousand acres of matchless parklike forest where deer grazed like domestic cattle" (318); some of the woods have already been cleared by the slaves and "planted in grain" (320). In "A Courtship" Faulkner imaginatively goes back earlier in the history of these fictional Indians, who are now identified as Chickasaws. These "old days" (380) seem almost pre-lapsarian, antedating the arrival of slavery. Although a steamboat has already begun paying annual visits to the community for the purposes of trade, and one white man is a major character, there is no mention of slaves or quarters or cleared fields among the Indians prior to "the eight new slaves" that Ikkemotubbe brings with him three years after the main events of the story (363).

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Choctaw|Chickasaw Plantation