Jefferson Post Office (Location Key)


For most of Faulkner's career the Oxford post office was the portal through which he sent off manuscripts to agents, editors and publishers 1100 miles away in New York, and where he received back rejections, acceptances, royalties and advances. The Jefferson post office, on the other hand, plays a much less significant role in the fictions that refer to it. In "A Rose for Emily" the narrator mentions that sometime before 1920 "the town got free postal delivery" at home (128), though it is well after that date that, for example, that Jason Compson stops at the "postoffice" to get the mail (The Sound and the Fury, 189). The Mansion, which spans much of the first half of the 20th century, briefly notes how progress effects the postal system. In an event set around 1910, it describes "the small lot behind the postoffice where the RFD carriers' buckboards would stand until the carriers came out the back door with the bags of mail" (41); RFD - Rural Free Delivery to people living in places like the Yoknapatawpha countryside - began in the late 19th century, though horse- or mule-drawn "buckboards" were replaced by trucks and cars in most rural areas by the 1920s. It's how the Griers receive the official notification of their older son's death in World War II. In the summer of 1923 Monty Snopes mentions another sign of progress: the "cancelling machine inside the Jefferson postoffice" - though what Monty is thinking about is the federal statute against sending pornography through the mail and the pornographic photo in the envelope with the return address of his "Atelier Monty" on it (76). That is one of the more memorable things that pass through Jefferson's post office. The mail Jason picks up includes a poignant letter from Caddy, who can only communicate with her daughter through the mails; a note from his Memphis mistress that he promptly burns; and a grandiloquent request for money from Uncle Maury. In "Miss Zilphia Gant" Zilphia visits the post office once a week to get the reports from the Memphis detective agency that's keeping track of her former husband. But mostly the fictions describe the post office as one of the places in Jefferson where the local men hang around.

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