Gowan Stevens' Mother

Character Key Number: 
Display Name: 
Gowan Stevens' Mother
Sort Name: 
Stevens, Mother of Gowan
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

Gowan Stevens' mother never appears in person, but three Yoknapatawpha fictions mention her. If we re-arrange their order of publication as the sequence of events in her biography, her youngest mention occurs in The Town, where she accompanies her husband for the duration of his State Department assignment to "some far place" - which explains why she sends her son Gowan from Washington to Jefferson (3). The next mention occurs in Sanctuary, when after her disgraced son has fled the county she writes Narcissa Sartoris a letter that Jenny Du Pre makes fun of; that passage strongly implies she now lives in Jefferson. And in Requiem for a Nun, set eight years later, Gavin Stevens suggests that the car Gowan and Temple Drake were driving back in Sanctuary might have been Gowan's "mother's" (107). Even arranged this way, the mentions don't tell us much at all about her character; however, her married name, at least, locates her (like Narcissa Benbow Sartoris and Jenny Sartoris Du Pre) among the county's upper class ladies.