Jefferson Hardware Store (Location Key)


Given the size of Jefferson, it's likely that the hardware store on the Square is the only hardware store in the town, but like the drugstore its history in the fictions is confusing. In Flags in the Dust it's "Watts' hardware store," according to Virgil Beard, who covets the air rifles for sale there (108). Because Jason Compson is working there on Good Friday, 1928, the hardware story is a major location in The Sound and the Fury, but in that novel it's owned by a man named Earl. In four other texts that mention it - the short story "Fool about a Horse" and Faulkner's last three novels - it's "Isaac McCaslin's hardware store" (The Reivers, 14), though (1) when Faulkner revises the story for The Hamlet he decides to call the store "Cain's," a name that doesn't appear in any other text, and (2) in The Mansion Jason Compson ends up in charge of "the McCaslin Hardware Company" (355). McCaslin's role is surprising in itself, since Ike is a carpenter in Go Down, Moses, where he is the central character, and usually associated with hunting rather than commerce, but Ike's ownership is also chronologically impossible to reconcile with Watt's and Earl's titles to the store. Although this kind of inconsistency is not uncommon in the fictions, in this case Faulkner himself seems to have been troubled enough by it to attempt in The Mansion to straighten out the intertextual narrative: there Earl is renamed Earl Triplett, who managed the store in The Sound and the Fury for McCaslin, until Triplett "eliminated Uncle Ike from the business" and then Jason "eliminated Triplett" (355) - an explanation that is likely to leave most readers still more confused, especially considering how frequently and unequivocally in The Sound and the Fury Jason himself asserts that the store belongs to Earl. What remains more consistent, however, is the nature of the store. It seems to cater mainly to customers from the farms in the county (Jason calls them "rednecks," 211). It stocks merchandise like cultivators, hame strings, butter churns and a new invention called a milk separator, the purchase of which plays a decisive role in the plot of "Fool about a Horse."

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