Character Key Number: 
Display Name: 
Sort Name: 
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

In the first five texts that mention this character, she is referred to as either "The Man's|Issetibbeha's sister" or "Ikkemotubbe's|Doom's mother." She is a member of the family of chiefs in the tribe of Indians who lived in Yoknapatawpha when the white settlers began arriving, but Faulkner defines the tribe (variously called Choctaw or Chickasaw) as patriarchal, and so as a woman neither she nor her son is in the direct line of succession. How her son becomes "The Man," as the chief is ceremonially titled, is a story Faulkner often re-tells, but over the course of the 9 texts in which Doom's mother appears - beginning with "Red Leaves" (1930) and ending with The Mansion (1960) - her place in the culture of the tribe and the saga of Yoknapatawpha becomes more powerful. In the sixth text in which she appears - Requiem for a Nun (1951), Faulkner's most sustained account of the settlement's early existence - she is finally given a name and is referred to as the "Chickasaw matriarch" (210). Even in that role, however, her story is still constrained, in this case by the historical circumstance of dispossession and exile: after signing "all the conveyances as her son's kingdom passed to the white people" (17), she leads the tribe away to the land they have been promised west of the Mississippi, riding "in a wagon behind two mules, under a silver-handled Paris parisol held by a female slave child" (25). And in her last appearance Faulkner misremembers the name he had given her: The Mansion calls her Mahataha instead of Mohataha (367). (A number of scholars have noted how the Mahataha|Mohataha of these late texts is loosely derived from a real Chickasaw matriarch named Hota, who similarly signed land conveyances for much of the property in Oxford, Mississippi.) She is also either the great-grandmother (in "The Old People") or (in Go Down, Moses) the grandmother of Sam Fathers, but not named in either case.