Episcopal Church in the County (Location Key)


The church where the Sutpen family worships in Absalom, Absalom! is identified on Faulkner's 1936 map only as "Church (which Sutpen rode fast to)" ([314]). This novel does not mention the church's denominational affiliation, but if the Sutpens - the owners of the largest and wealthiest planation in Yoknapatawpha - attend it, it's almost certainly Episcopalian. And it's just as likely that this is the same location as the Episcopal Church north of Jefferson that the Sartorises attend in The Unvanquished, written almost simultaneously with Absalom! In that text Bayard describes the church's location relative to the mule pen at Sartoris: "not toward the cabin but across the pasture toward the road" (146), a direction which leads to the spot where Faulkner puts Sutpen's church on that map. And both novels mention "the hitching grove" behind the church that "would be full of carriages from the other plantations" (Absalom!, 17; Unvanquished, 135). In Sutpen's case there is no description of the interior of the church, but the details provided in The Unvanquished indicate the architectural peculiarity of plantation Christianity, which brought masters and slaves together on Sundays in a strictly segregated space: while the Sartoris family has a pew in the front of the altar, enslaved people sat above them, in a gallery along the walls that could hold 200 Negroes. Bayard contrasts the current congregation - "the old men and the women and the children and the maybe a dozen niggers that didn't have any white people now" (134) - with his memory of services before the war: "Doctor Worsham in his stole beneath the altar, and for each white person in the auditorium there would be ten niggers in the gallery" (135). It's also possible that this may be one of the "three churches" that, according to Absalom!, are already in Jefferson in 1833 (24).

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Episcopal Church in the County
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Episcopal Church in the County