Griers' Farm (Location Key)


Although many of the families in Frenchman's Bend are tenant farmers or sharecroppers, the Grier family that is at the center of three stories at the time of World War II - "Two Soldiers," "Shingles for the Lord," "Shall Not Perish" - has apparently owned their land since before the Civil War. These stories are all narrated by the family's unnamed younger son, who in the first one describes his home as a "little shirttail of a farm" (84); in the last story its size is given as seventy acres. The place seems poor even by the standards of rural Yoknapatawpha: in "Shingles" the father admits, perhaps with some hyperbole, that "I don't own anything there that even I would borrow" (34). "Two Soldiers" goes into an unusual amount of detail about the kind of work that has to be done on one of these small farms, although "Pap" (like Anse Bundren in As I Lay Dying) expects all the work to be done by his sons. The older son, Pete, is a good hand: he has the ten acres that Pap gave him "busted out and bedded for the winter" with vetch by early December; "Pap," his younger son notes, "was still behind, just like he had been since me and Pete had knowed him" (82). In another seasonal task, the males chop firewood "at the wood tree" (83). The family owns a mule and at least one cow. Leaving aside the middle story, where the father's incompetence and laziness is destructive, the stories suggest that it is in country places like these subsistence farms that America will always find the men who will keep it safe in times of crisis. In this the younger Griers, at least, resemble the somewhat more prosperous MacCallums of Flags in the Dust and the McCallums of "The Tall Men," and as representations of lower class Southern whites provide a kind of counterpoint to the Snopeses.

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