Frenchman's Bend (Location Key)


Frenchman's Bend - the 'hamlet' in the title of the first novel in the Snopes trilogy - is used as a setting or is mentioned often in the Yoknapatawpha fictions. It's a very rural community usually located twenty miles southeast of Jefferson, though Faulkner isn't consistent about the distance. Its population is almost entirely white. It gets at least part of its name from Louis Grenier, the Frenchman who established the first slave plantation in Yoknapatawpha but who disappeared after the Civil War, so that now the residents of the Bend don't even know the 'old Frenchman's' name. Faulkner never says whether the 'Bend' in the name refers to the road that runs through the hamlet or to the fact that, as several fictions note, when he created his plantation Grenier used slave labor to straighten a bend on the Yoknapatawpha River. Throughout the fictions the man who owns much of Frenchman's Bend is Will Varner, and many of the other residents are tenant farmers on properties he owns; a number of the other small farms around the Bend, however, are owned by the families that work them. The narrator of The Hamlet describes the area this way: "Besides Varner's store and cotton gin and the combined grist mill and blacksmith shop which they rented to the actual smith, and the schoolhouse and the church and the perhaps three dozen dwellings within sound of both bells, the village consisted of a livery barn and lot and a contiguous shady grassless yard in which sat a sprawling rambling edifice . . . known as Littlejohn's hotel" (31). The Bend is perhaps best known in the larger Yoknapatawpha narrative as the place from which the Snopeses keep coming. Many separate Bend locations have their own entries in this index, including the 28 the appear in The Hamlet.

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Frenchman's Bend