Jack Houston

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Jack Houston
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Houston, Jack
Zack Houston
Middle Class
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Jack (or "Zack," as his name appears in The Town) is a "childless widower who lives alone with [his] hound and a negro man to cook for them both" (197). In The Hamlet, he is a thirty-three-year-old man (240) who has spent the last four years mourning the loss of his wife, Lucy Pate, with a "black, savage, indomitable fidelity" (227). In the earlier short story "The Hound," Houston is prosperous but, in this novel, his unpaid debt to Will Varner and the resulting foreclosure on his property have diminished his wealth. The borrowed money funded a new house and furnished it, but Houston's eventual inability to repay the sum leads to the loss of a significant portion of his property, which plays some part in his eventual enmity with Mink Snopes, who rents that land from Varner. Houston still possesses a house and some remaining land as is evident in Ike Snopes stealing his grazing cow and a judge ruling that Mink Snopes pay Houston three dollars pasturage (178), even though the land belongs to Varner (100). Faulkner describes Houston as a highly competent individual who enters manhood at the age of fourteen being already "acquainted with whiskey" and "the possessor of a mistress - a negro girl two or three years his senior" (228). Houston's early adolescence was spent learning to run his father's farm and was followed by a brief education until he left Yoknapatawpha at the age of sixteen in order to escape the inevitability of marrying Lucy Pate and due to his "lust, not for life, not even for movement, but for that fetterless immobility called freedom" (228). Over the next thirteen years, he worked first as a time-keeper in a railroad construction camp in Oklahoma and then as a "Kansas wheat-hand," moving to "herding sheep in New Mexico" and then working "with a construction gang in Arizona and West Texas and then a longshoreman on the Galveston docks" (234). He eventually settles in El Paso "as a locomotive fireman" living with a woman whom he took "out of a Galveston brothel" (234). With the death of his father, he splits his savings in half, giving one portion to and abandoning the woman with whom he lived for seven years. He returns home to Mississippi, lives for one year off of his savings and then marries Lucy, who dies sixth month later. He is eventually shot dead by Mink Snopes.

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