European Theater in World War II (Location Key)


The Second World War plays a smaller role in Faulkner's Yoknapatawpha fictions than the First, but three texts refer to various wartime events in Europe. Requiem for a Nun mentions three European locations that were the sites of significant moments in the history of the war. "Warsaw and Dunquerque" appear together in the account of how black farmers and field hands in Yoknapatawpha left the region or became otherwise unavailable for working on the big plantations (193). Although the U.S. didn't enter the war until the end of 1941, the government began drafting young men in 1940 in response to what happened in these two places - among others around the world. Warsaw is the capital of Poland, which was invaded by the German army on 1 September 1939. "Dunquerque" (usually anglicized as Dunkirk) was the coastal city in northern France from which England had to evacuate 47,000 troops after German forces overran the country in May 1940 (193). "Utah Beach," also mentioned in Requiem, was the code name that the Allies gave to the westernmost of the five Normandy beaches where in June 1944 the D-Day invasion of occupied Europe put 156,000 troops back in France (193). The main events of "Knight's Gambit" take place between December 4 and December 6, 1941, right on the eve of the attack on Pearl Harbor that launched the U.S. into the War. Both explicitly and implicitly, the war in Europe forms a significant background to the story's events. 'The Battle of Britain,' the World War II aerial campaign during four months in 1940 during which the British "Royal Air Force's fighter command" triumphed over Germany's bombers (205), whet 17-year-old Charles Mallison's "thirst" to "get to England some way" to share in the glory that he associates with combat (206-07). And sometime after the U.S. declaration of war, England is where Benbow Sartoris has been sent on "something hush hush" for the war effort (251). Two other Mississippians serve in the war's European theater. In "By the People" and again in The Mansion, Colonel Devries, from a county next to Yoknapatawpha, serves with distinction as the commander of a unit of Negro troops, earning a Congressional Medal of Honor. The one Yoknapatawphan in who serves in Europe, though with less distinction, is Charles Mallison, who in The Mansion flies over Nazi occupied territory as a bombardier until his plane crash lands and he spends the remainder of the war in a prisoner-of-war camp in Limbourg, Belgium, where the biggest threat turns out to be the weekly bombing raids by the Royal Air Force on a German "marshalling yard" next to the stalag (324).

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European Theater in World War II