Jefferson Drugstore (Location Key)


Jefferson drugstores appear in 15 different fictions, where they often play an important role. The drugstore is where Emily buys arsenic, Dewey Dell tries to get an abortion, a hired killer from Memphis buys a tell-tale pack of cigarettes. Its rack of paperbacks is the town's only 'bookstore.' In Sanctuary the drugstore even dispenses music to the country people who stand around the doorway (112). The soda fountain in the drugstore is a major site in the town's social life: young people regularly gather there to court each other, and it's where Gavin Stevens provides Linda Snopes with ice cream confections and avuncular wisdom. Jason Compson stops at the soda fountain for a "dope" (191) and a "shot" (243) or a "headache shot" (251) - all colloquial terms for a Coca-Cola. Like doctors, drugstores in the 'dry' state of Mississippi could dispense alcohol for medicinal purposes, though this only seems to be the case in "Dry September," where the soda fountain clerk supplies Minnie Cooper with liquor. Curiously, in two stories two different Negro employees of the drugstore sell moonshine whiskey they keep hidden in two different trees behind the store. The disreputable character whose names are Skeet MacGowan, Skeets Magowan, and so on, works at the drugstore in four different texts - he's the man who promises to 'treat' Dewey Dell's condition - and even with those variations in his name, he's a more consistent link among the texts than the store's owner or pharmacist. In the last two volumes of the Snopes trilogy Faulkner settles on "Christian's drugstore" as the name of the business, but originally, in "Uncle Willy," Christian's is the second and even more disreputable drugstore in town, in part because it is Willy himself who consumes all the drugs the store dispenses (see "Christian's Drugstore" in this index). And when that hitman buys his cigarettes, it's at West's Drugstore. In most of the texts no owner's name is mentioned. We assume that all the stores linked to this entry are versions of the same 'Jefferson's drugstore,' but it's possible that Faulkner sometimes imagines his town having more than one drugstore on the Square.

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Jefferson Drugstore