The story begins with two generations of Compson in the same carriage: Grandfather, Caddy, Jason - and the narrator who is never named but whom readers of The Sound and the Fury will recognize as Quentin. Not mentioned in the story are the children's parents, which creates a contrast with the story Quentin hears when the carriage reaches the aristocratic family's county farm - about how the mixed-race Indian who lives with the farm's black tenants got the name "Had-Two-Fathers" (345). The story's title resonates ironically too, for the story Sam Fathers (as he is now called) tells Quentin is about racism, slavery, miscegenation and the vexed Southern past. "I was just twelve then," Quentin says at the end, where he doesn't know how to answer when Grandfather asks him "What were you and Sam talking about?" (360). It was Grandfather's father who bought Sam and his violated mother when Sam was about Quentin's age. The story only suggests the interrelationship between its white and non-white families; even after hearing Sam's account, Quentin declares his faith in his own family and its past: "we all believed [Grandfather] did fine things" (360). In some ways, however, "A Justice" anticipates what will happen in Absalom, Absalom!, when Grandfather, Quentin and the short story's missing father return compulsively to "talk about" that larger past and its legacy.

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Affiliated Characters

Caddy - "A Justice"
Grandfather - "A Justice"
Great-grandfather - "A Justice"
Jason - "A Justice"
Quentin Compson - "A Justice"