Jefferson Negro Church (Location Key)


In The Mansion, published in 1960 as Faulkner's penultimate book, the narrator says that the "Sunday School" where (the white) Linda Snopes Kohl teaches after her return from Spain meets in "one of the Negro churches" in Jefferson (104, 254). This is the only explicit indication in the fictions that Faulkner imagines more than one "Negro church" in town. There certainly always could have been two or more, but it seems that the more accurate way to represent the church variously attended by Dilsey (in The Sound and the Fury), Sam Fathers (in "The Old People"), and Tom-Tom (in "Centaur in Brass" and The Town) is to treat it in all five texts as the same church. Its denomination is never made clear, though it's definitely a Protestant church. It is most fully described in The Sound and the Fury, the only text to set an event there. The event is the Easter sermon preached by the Reverend Shegog that has such a powerful effect on the black congregation. The setting is "a weathered church" with a "crazy steeple" (292); inside it is decorated for Easter "with sparse flowers from kitchen gardens and hedgerows, and with streamers of colored crepe paper" (292). On the other hand, even if this is the "Negro church" Sam Fathers goes to "now and then" in "The Old People" (203), it can hardly be the one he attends in Go Down, Moses. The novel uses the same phrase - Sam goes to "the negro church now and then" (161) - but in that text Sam lives on the McCaslin plantation, which is fifteen miles from Jefferson, rather than the "farm four miles from Jefferson" where he lives in "Old People" (203). The McCaslin place puts a church in Jefferson too far away for the Negroes, many if not all of whom would have to walk there, so on the map of that novel we relocate the church to the county - which is what Faulkner must have done in his own imagination.

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Jefferson Negro Church
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Jefferson Negro Church