Louis Grenier

Character Key Number: 
410
Display Name: 
Louis Grenier
Sort Name: 
Grenier, Louis
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 
Yes
Biography: 

Louis Grenier occupies a special place in the history of Yoknapatawpha as the "Old Frenchman" after whom Frenchman's Bend is named. He himself never directly appears in any of the nine texts that mention him, though he gets closest to the narrative in "A Name for the City" and Requiem for a Nun, which describe the county during the antebellum years Grenier was there. In half of the fictions he is referred to only as "the Old Frenchman," and it's likely that none of the inhabitants of the Bend would recognize his name if they heard it. Identified as the younger son of a Huguenot aristocrat in several of the fictions, he was one of Yoknapatawpha's original white settlers, bringing with him from Carolina the county's first slaves. His antebellum plantation was among the county's largest, though from its first appearance (in Sanctuary) through the Snopes trilogy its mansion house - designed by a Paris-educated architect, or in Intruder in the Dust by Grenier, who is described there as an architect as well as a planter - looms as a kind of Gothic ruin. It is the scene of Temple Drake's terrible ordeal in Sanctuary, and several of the texts note how the poor white farmers who live in the Bend have been tearing it down for firewood over the decades since the Civil War. No one seems to know what happened to Grenier himself during or after the War. His one descendant who still lives - or rather, squats - on a piece of the original estate is feeble-minded, and completely unaware of his aristocratic lineage. Grenier's ultimate legacy seems to be the anti-heroic story of decline and fall.