Manfred de Spain

Character Key Number: 
413
Display Name: 
Manfred de Spain
Sort Name: 
De Spain, Manfred
Parent Character Key: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 
Yes
Biography: 

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, Manfred de Spain appears in nine fictions. He was born after the Civil War, probably around 1870. Along with the honorary military title, he inherits his father's wealth and status, as well as the hunting camp where, also like his father, he leads annual hunting excursions. But unlike his father, he is also a president of the Sartoris bank and a mayor of Jefferson. In that office he is identified with a more modern sensibility: according to The Town, the sporty and noisy EMF Roadster he drives, one of the first cars in Jefferson, symbolizes his role as the "champion, the Godfrey de Bouillon, the Tancred, the Jefferson Richard Lion-heart of the twentieth century" (13). He becomes a major figure in the Snopes trilogy because of the long-standing affair he carries on with Flem's wife Eula. That novel describes him as a lifelong bachelor who leaves Jefferson after Eula's suicide, but in "Shall Not Perish" he is still in town during World War Two, and in angry mourning for the death of his son in combat.