Memphis in Light in August (Location)

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Founded in 1819, Memphis, Tennessee, had over 162,000 residents in 1920, making it the closest big city to Yoknapatawpha County. It plays a role in many of Faulkner's novels and stories, especially as the place where people from Jefferson went to misbehave: to buy liquor and gamble in the nightclubs or have sex in the hotels and brothels in the notorious Beale Street area. Hightower's wife goes there looking for something her marriage cannot provide, and kills herself in a Memphis hotel (64); Bobbie is only one of the Memphis prostitutes whom Max imports into the town where Joe meets her. In Light in August, though, Memphis is most importantly the site of the orphanage where Joe spends the first five years of his life, described as "echoing building of dark red brick sootbleakened" by its chimneys and the factories that surround it. The "ten foot steel-and-wire fence" around it makes the building look like a "penitentiary or zoo" (119). The orphanage is a bleak, quiet place for the many children who live there. Many scenes in the novel take place inside its interior spaces, which include the sleeping quarters, the dietitian's room, the furnace room, the office, and some interior stairs. Like all of Tennessee and Mississippi at this time, the city was racially segregated. Beale Street was in the black district; Joanna Burden's attorney, E.E. Peebles, has an office there. And there's a separate orphanage in town "for negroes" to which Joe would be moved if the authorities decided he was black (134).

Site of Event
City; Brothel; Hotel