Lucius Quintus Carothers McCaslin

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Lucius Quintus Carothers McCaslin
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McCaslin, Lucius Quintus Carothers
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Lucius Quintus Carothers McCaslin - often referred to as "Old Carothers" - was one of Yoknapatawpha's earliest and wealthiest white settlers, the slave-owning patriarch of the racially diverse family that Faulkner puts at the center of two novels: Go Down, Moses and The Reivers. In two other texts - The Unvanquished and Intruder in the Dust he is a minor presence. He himself is never physically present in any of these four novels, having died well before the Civil War, but his legacies - material and moral - haunt many of his descendants on both sides of the color line. This is especially the case in Moses, where the 'black' branch of his family, the Beauchamps, is the result not just of miscegenation and concubinage but incest, when he has sex with his own enslaved daughter. "Old Carothers" is one of the most powerful examples in the fiction of how, as Faulkner famously put it, "the past is never dead." He is also "an evil and unregenerate old man" (280), and as such a radical re-vision of the figure of the Old Southern planter, the type that Faulkner had originally embodied in the glamorous Colonel Sartoris. When Faulkner returns to the extended McCaslin family in his last novel, this 'past' is not dead, but it is revised. Although The Reivers also includes a "family skeleton" (31), its re-presentation of the sins of the father is much less dark, and his "actual grandson," though illegitimate and biracial, is a newly created character who is conceived without any hint of incest (126).