Issetibbeha's Grave (Location Key)


Before "Red Leaves" begins, Issetibbeha's grave has already been dug; it remains unfilled even at the end of the story.

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Issetibbeha's Grave
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"Red Leaves" never reaches "the door of the earth," as the Indians call the grave that has already been dug before the story begins, the grave in which their dead chief, Issetibbeha, will be buried along with "his horse," "his dog," and his unnamed Negro slave ("Red Leaves," 326, 327). But the expectant emptiness of that hole looms over the entire story, as the slave who is slated for sacrifice runs from it and the tribe chases him down. Captured, the slave is being taken toward the grave as the story ends. (Faulkner treats this burial ritual as an Indian custom; Issetibbeha's father, Ikkemotubbe, was buried with his horse, dog and Negro "servant," as the slave is often labeled. Some world cultures have put people to death as part of a leader's last rites. However, there is no evidence of any such practice among the Indians of North America. Interestingly, many of the aboriginal peoples in northern Mississippi built mounds as burial sites. There are "Indian mounds" in several Faulkner fictions, but neither in "Red Leaves" nor anywhere else does he associate the mounds with cemeteries. When another Indian Chief dies in "A Justice," the narrator twice refers to his body "entering the earth," but there is no direct reference to how or where he is buried, Collected Stories, 350).

Occupants: Issetibeha, Unnamed Negro Servant, Issetibeha's horse, Issetibeha's dog.

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