Major de Spain

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Major de Spain
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De Spain, Major
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Two characters referred to as "Major de Spain" appear in fifteen different fictions. Only one was a real Confederate "Major" during the Civil War; the other is his son, Manfred, who fought in the Spanish-American War as a Lieutenant but is called "Major" as a courtesy, and as a sign of the family's high status in Yoknapatawpha. They never appear together, but in four texts - "Shall Not Perish," The Town, The Mansion and The Reivers - both are referred to, and in those cases, it is easy to tell which "De Spain" Faulkner has in mind. In several others cases, however, it is impossible to be sure. And in other cases - "Delta Autumn," "The Bear" - Faulkner's revisions of the first published version had the effect of changing the character from son to father. Scholars often disagree about whether a particular De Spain is the father or the son, and some our choices can be second-guessed. But according to those choices, Major de Spain the father appears or is mentioned in a dozen texts. His experience in the Civil War is never described in any detail. Instead, the focus of those texts is on his service as the county sheriff ("Wash," Absalom, Absalom!), his behavior as a planter and landlord ("Barn Burning," The Hamlet), and especially his actions as a hunter in the big woods ("Lion," Go Down, Moses, Intruder in the Dust and The Reivers). It was this "Major de Spain" who bought the hunting cabin and hunting ground around it where the annual large game hunts take place from Thomas Sutpen. In general the fictions make the Major's aristocratic class standing clear; for example, according to The Reivers, he "culled and selected the men he considered worthy to hunt the game he decreed to be hunted" (18-19). His personality, however, remains less well-defined, except in his encounters with Ab and Sarty Snopes in "Barn Burning" and again in The Hamlet. His son Manfred is much more vividly characterized.

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