Jefferson Grocery Store (Location Key)

Code: 
435
Description: 

The representation of retail business in Faulkner's Jefferson occasionally acknowledges or overtly reflects the economic and racial stratifications that are a social fact of the town. In "Uncle Willy," at least, Willy Christian's seedy drugstore explicitly serves customers whom the white narrator of that story calls "country people" and "niggers" (226) - until a new clerk cleans it up enough to attract a "new town trade" among the white middle class (233). In The Sound and the Fury Jason Compson thinks about the white man in Jefferson who "made a lot of money selling rotten goods to niggers" (194). The six grocery stores in this entry seem to belong in the same category. In "Mule in the Yard" I.O. Snopes is accosted by Old Het "before a cheap grocery store" that seems to be patronized by "Negroes" (259). The narrator of Intruder in the Dust describes the store Mr. Lilley owns as "a small shabby street grocery whose customers were mostly Negroes"; Gavin Stevens mentions that the store sells them chewing gum, bluing, bananas, sardines, shoelaces, hair straightener, meat, candy, lard - presumably among other 'goods' (47). In "Uncle Willy," "Sonny Barger's store" in the Negro district of Jefferson seems to be as seedy a place as Willy's drugstore (234). Gail Hightower in Light in August does his "semiweekly marketing" in an "odorous and cluttered" store, with "flyspecked tins" of food on its "dingy shelves" (308, 309). In "Centaur in Brass" Flem Snopes spends "two or three nights a week" sitting by the stove in a "smelly, third-rate grocery" (152). It's less clear that the "grocer's" where Jason Compson's "friend from Memphis" buys food every weekend belongs in this category, but if we assume that she is probably a prostitute, it seems more likely than not - and we don't have to assume that he is Jason Compson. We can also assume that these kinds of businesses are on the edges rather than in the center of town. Like the store in Jason's reference, it's likely that they are owned by whites.

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