Jefferson Church (Location Key)


According to Absalom, Absalom!, there are at least "three churches" in Yoknapatawpha as early as 1833. That number probably includes the one that Sutpen attends, which is outside Jefferson; it is most likely Episcopalian, the preferred denomination for the planter class. And one of them is the Methodist church in Jefferson in which Goodhue Coldfield is a steward. Nothing more is said in Absalom about the third church, but one of the narrators of the The Town says that the two "oldest congregations in the county" are the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians (321). On the other hand, on the page before in The Town the same narrator, Charles Mallison, says "ours was a town founded by Aryan Baptists and Methodists, for Aryan Baptists and Methodists" (320). Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist - these four denominations are the only organized religions in Yoknapatawpha throughout the fictions. Various texts refer to one or another of these by name. The 'Baptist church,' for example, is mentioned in three other texts. Gail Hightower's church in Light in August is identified as Presbyterian. And according to The Town the small Episcopal church is "the oldest extant building in town" (321). This entry, then, gathers together the Jefferson churches that are mentioned but not described or denominated. Besides the 'third' in Absalom!, this group includes the church that Hawkshaw "joins" soon after arriving in town in "Hair" (141); the church where Uncle Willy and the boy who narrates his story attend Sunday school; the "church bells" in the "Sunday steeples" that ring out in The Town to celebrate the end of the First World War (118); and the "two churches" in Jefferson that, in Requiem for a Nun, are built before the Civil War using the same brick molds as were used in building the courthouse. If Faulkner is being consistent, one of these would be Episcopalian, as described in The Town, which is presumably the same as "the right church" that Temple Drake Gowan says she and Gowan belong to (124) - 'right' here referring to the class status of the congregants, not their theological beliefs. And the other would be Presbyterian. However, we can never assume Faulkner is being consistent. Despite that line in The Town about the age of the Episcopal church, in several other texts the Holston House, a tavern, is described as the 'oldest extant building in town.'

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