Cumberland Gap|Cumberland Mountains (Location Key)


The "Cumberland Gap" plays a major role in the history of the U.S. - and in several of Faulkner's later texts, a significant one in the history of Yoknapatawpha. Historically, the Gap is a narrow pass through the Cumberland Mountains near the intersection of the states of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. After the pass was discovered in the mid-18th century and Daniel Boone blazed the 'Wilderness Trail' through it, it became the portal through which the settlers who first inhabited the frontier southwest passed through the Appalachians. In Faulkner's fictions the first mention of the Gap seems ominous: in Absalom, Absalom!, it provides Thomas Sutpen with the way to bring the heavy marble tombstones he imported for his wife and himself from the eastern theater of the Civil War to Sutpen's Hundred in Yoknapatawpha. The next three texts to mention it - "Hand upon the Waters," "A Name for the City" and Requiem for a Nun - all note that the first white men to settle Jefferson make their way to Mississippi through the Gap. In the first of those texts the three are named Holston, Grenier and Stevens, and they all come from "the Carolinas" (70). In the next two texts the men who ride "across Tennessee from the Cumberland Gap" are named Holston, Grenier and Habersham (Requiem, 7). Faulkner's last novel, The Reivers, mentions the Cumberland Mountains along with the Ozarks as summer resort destinations (189), omitting the historical dimension.

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Cumberland Gap|Cumberland Mountains