Mardis Cemetery (Location Key)


The family cemetery of Cornelia Mardis is located in the cedar grove on the farm. In the course of the story "Smoke" it is the scene of a grave violation, a beating and a murder - at the hands of three different characters.

Cemetery Label: 
Mardis Graveyard
Cemetery Description: 

The "cedar grove where five generations" of the Mardis family are buried is also a murder scene ("Smoke," 9). Anse Holland, the man who is killed there, is actually 'murdered' twice. First by one of his sons, Anse Junior, who confronts him "digging up the graves where [his mother's] flesh and blood" - and his mother too, born Cornelia Mardis - "was buried" (24). But the beating his son gave Anse on the spot only appeared to kill him. Another man, a cousin, finishes the job, staging the scene to make it look like a riding accident. In the first case the motive was outraged filial piety. In the second, the motive is material: to acquire the Mardis estate, "two thousand acres of some of the best land in the county" (21). The whole estate, however, is referred to by Gavin Stevens in his reconstruction of the crime as a kind of cemetery, not just Cornelia's "heritage" but also her "mausoleum" (18). A circle is closed when the man who is killed there is buried there. What is never explained is why "Old Anse" was digging up the graves of his wife and her family in the first place.

Occupants: Five generations of Mardises, Cornelia Mardis Holland, Anse Holland.

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Mardis Cemetery
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Mardis Cemetery

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