Lonnie Grinnup's Trotline (Location Key)


A trot line is a long rope or cord with many separate lines of fishhooks attached to it, used for catching large quantities of fish, primarily catfish. In "Hand upon the Waters" Lonnie Grinnup's trotline "of light cotton rope" runs the width of the river near his hut, and around the house are "short lengths of cord just cut from a spool near by, and a rusted can of full of heavy fishhooks, some of which had already been bent onto the cords" that are ready to be baited and attached to the rope (68). In the story it also becomes one of the oddest burial sites in the fictions.

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Lonnie Grinnup's Trotline
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Although in "Hand Upon the Waters" Lonnie Grinnup's body ultimately rests in one of the Frenchman's Bend churchyards, he is first 'buried' in the river hanging from "his own trotline" (70). A trotline is a long rope or cord with many separate lines of hooks attached to it, used for catching fish - in Faulkner's country, usually catfish. Grinnup's trotline "of light cotton rope" (68) runs across the river "from bank to bank, between two trees" (69). In the story, two different men are killed, impaled on fishhooks, and 'buried' in the water. One is Lonnie himself, whose real name is Louis Grenier. He is the namesake and last surviving descendant of the original Grenier, the Old Frenchman, Yoknapatawpha's first great slave-owner and planter. By having him end up in this undignified grave, being actually eaten by the fish he set out to catch, "in almost the exact center of the thousand and more acres his ancestor had once owned" (71), Faulkner may have intended to suggest the fate of the aspirations of the Old South - much as in Absalom, Absalom! two children of Colonel Sutpen, whose slave plantation and mansion are even larger than Grenier's, are burned to death inside the fire that destroys his big house. Lonnie's murder is avenged by his only companion, who then 'buries' the man who killed Lonnie for money at the end of another fishhook on the same line.

Occupants: Lonnie Grinnup, Boyd Ballenbaugh.

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Lonnie Grinnup's Trotline
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Lonnie Grinnup's Trotline