Lucas' Hiding Place|Indian Mound (Location Key)


In the short story "A Point of Law" Lucas Beauchamp moves his dismantled moonshine still "farther into the [creek] bottom" to hide it from the officers he expects are coming to the McCaslin-Edmonds place (215). The deputy sheriff who finds it calls the hiding place "a brier brake in the creek bottom" (217). (A "brake" in this usage is a place overgrown with one particular kind of vegetation.) In the revised version of the story that Faulkner includes in Go Down, Moses, Lucas tries to hide his still in one of the mounds built by the aboriginal inhabitants of northern Mississippi. This mound is described as "squat, flat-topped, almost symmetrical" (37). It rises out of the flat valley four miles away from Edmonds' house. There are a number of 'Indian mounds' in Mississippi and elsewhere along the rivers. The indigenous peoples of the Americas constructed them for religious and ceremonial, burial, and residential purposes. The mound in Go Down, Moses once attracted a team of archaeologists who conducted a dig around it. We don't know what they found, but when Lucas digs into the mound in the dark, he is struck by something that the narrative calls an "admonitory pat from the spirit of darkness and solitude, the old earth, perhaps the old ancestors themselves" and somehow given "a single coin" that he "knows" is gold (38). With this beginning the story could be heading in a number of different directions; in the event, it's a comedy. The old earth seems to be playing the same trick on Lucas - 'salting' the ground to make someone believe there's treasure in it - that Lucas plays on a white man in the story. Faulkner has described this scam before, in The Hamlet. Yet despite the metaphorical "jeering and prolonged laughter" that lurks in this episode (38), I can't help but wonder if there isn't a kind of self-reflexive aspect to it. Faulkner himself found 'Yoknapatawpha' by digging so brilliantly into the 'postage stamp of [his] native soil' - although given how broke he was at the time he was composing Go Down, Moses, he might have wondered if he too was being conned. (See also Indian Mound in Big Woods in this index.)

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Lucas' Hiding Place|Indian Mound
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Lucas' Hiding Place|Indian Mound