County Jail (Location Key)


The jail in Jefferson appears in 16 different texts. In Flags in the Dust, the first Yoknapatawpha fiction, it's Bayard Sartoris who spends a night there; although he has been drinking, the jailer treats him as a guest rather than an inmate. In the other instances its inmates are lower class characters and, especially, Negroes. Jabbo Gatewood, for example, in The Town, is a black man who is regularly jailed for drunkenness. The jail includes the "living quarters" of the jailer and his family, a "bullpen" where black prisoners are confined in a group, and a single cell usually reserved for white prisoners, though there are major exceptions to this - including Lucas Beauchamp, a central character in the detective fiction Intruder in the Dust, which originated in Faulkner's idea to have someone falsely accused of murder solve the mystery from inside a cell. In Requiem for a Nun - which organizes the story of Jefferson's early years around the jail and includes a final act titled "The Jail" - Gavin Stevens says that the best way to learn "the history of a community" is to study the graffiti drawn by successive generations of prisoners on their cell walls (168). Faulkner never does that, though one of the jail's windows includes the signature that a jailer's daughter scratched there with a diamond ring during the Civil War (he tells three versions of that story: The Unvanquished, Intruder, Requiem). Among the jail's most significant inmates are Lee Goodwin (in Sanctuary), Joe Christmas (in Light in August), Rider (in "Pantaloon in Black"), Mink Snopes (in all three volumes in the Snopes trilogy), and Nancy Mannigoe (in both "That Evening Sun" and Requiem).

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