Jefferson Farmers' Supply Store (Location Key)


The economy of Jefferson - the business that is done in the banks and the stores - revolves largely around the needs and wants of the farmers and planters who live in the surrounding county. But three texts refer specifically to a "farmer's supply store" in town; when in Faulkner's last novel Lucius Priest visits it on his weekly round collecting money owed his father's livery stable, it is even named the "Farmer's Supply" ("Mule in the Yard," 257; "Appendix Compson," 333; Reivers, 43). The one text that describes it is the "Appendix," in which it is the place where Jason Compson has an office of sorts as a "cotton dealer" (333). When the town librarian goes to see him there, it is described as a "gloomy cavern which only men ever entered - a cavern cluttered and walled and stalagmitehung with plows and discs and loops of tracechain and singletrees and mulecollars and sidemeat and cheap shoes and horselinament and flour and molasses" (333). The narrative explains that the gloom has a racial inflection: "since those who supplied Mississippi farmers or at least Negro Mississippi farmers for a share of the crop" were anxious to sell their black customers only what they needed to make the crop, and so the store's merchandise was "hidden" from view (334). This description clearly distinguishes 'supply stores' from the 'hardware stores' that serve the farming population in other fictions; Jefferson's hardware stores are not so strongly defined by gender and racial segregation. I.O. Snopes can "usually be found" at the "farmer's supply store" in "Mule in the Yard," and he's white - though of course he is also a Snopes (257). We can speculate that Faulkner thinks of supply stores as serving a poorer and darker clientele, but there's not really enough evidence in these three texts to feel comfortable with such a generalization.

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Jefferson Farmers' Supply Store
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Jefferson Farmers' Supply Store