County Poorhouse (Location Key)


Before the Social Security Act of 1935, many localities in the U.S. had 'poor houses' or 'poor farms' to give destitute elderly or handicapped people some place to live (at poor farms they were often required to work for their support). In Flags in the Dust Will Falls lives at "the county Poor Farm," which is three miles out of town (3). All we know for sure about "the poorhouse" where Old Het lives in "Mule in the Yard" is that it is "a three-mile walk" from Mrs. Hait's house in Jefferson (264). But since that's exactly the same distance from Jefferson as the poorhouse in which Old Will Falls lives in Flags in the Dust, and she is black while he is white, it seems possible that "the poorhouse" (249, 264) is one of the very few integrated spaces in Yoknapatawpha. On the other hand, when Faulkner revised the story of I.O. Snopes and the mule in Mrs. Hait's yard for inclusion in The Town, one of the changes he made was to halve the distance Old Het has to walk to get back to "the poorhouse": it's now a "mile-and-a-half walk" (268). We assume Will's "Poor Farm" and Old Het's "poorhouse" are the same Location, but it's not out of the question that Faulkner's change shows his desire to segregate them.

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