Jefferson Cemetery Monuments (Location Key)


Eventually there are two recognizable 'monuments' in the Jefferson public cemetery. The first appears in the first Yoknapatawpha fiction, Flags in the Dust. Colonel John Sartoris' imposing "effigy and statue" stands tall on a height overlooking the railroad he built, wearing a frock coat and an expression described as that "haughty arrogance which repeated itself generation after generation with a fateful fidelity" (399). There seems to be no question but that Faulkner based it on the statue of his great-grandfather, William C. Falkner, in the cemetery at Ripley, Mississippi. This statue only appears in this one text, but here Faulkner gives it a significant role to play. The car accident, for example, in which young Bayard Sartoris is responsible for the death of his grandfather, old Bayard, the Colonel's son, occurs "directly" under "John Sartoris' effigy" with "its florid stone gesture" (326), and the Colonel's sister's visit to the cemetery near the end of the novel provides an occasion to describe the statue, and quote its inscription, and sound the elegiac note on which Flags closes (399). At the other end of Faulkner's career, in the last two volumes of the Snopes trilogy, another monument is erected in this cemetery. It's paid for by Flem Snopes, who is in many ways the Sartorises' antithesis, and if there are good reasons to question the heroic claims made by the Colonel's statue and its epitaph - "For man's enlightenment he lived," etc. (Flags, 399) - the tribute Flem pays to his wife Eula on her monument - "A virtuous Wife is a Crown to her Husband," etc. (The Town, 372) - is preposterous. But the marble "medallion" of Eula's face that her daughter Linda and her would-be knight Gavin Stevens have had made in Italy and then affixed to the marble "monument" that Flem erected is clearly meant to evoke the kind of great passions associated with tragic loss (366). To quote what V.K. Suratt says about it in The Mansion: "that face that even if it was carved outen dead stone, was still the same face that ever young man no matter how old he got would still never give up hope and belief that some day before he died he would finally be worthy to be wrecked and ruined and maybe even destroyed by it" (165-66).

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Jefferson Cemetery Monuments
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Jefferson Cemetery Monuments