Nancy Mannigoe

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Nancy Mannigoe
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Mannigoe, Nancy
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As "Nancy" this black woman appears in "That Evening Sun" (1931) as a laundress and part-time servant of the Compson family who also sells herself as a prostitute to white men who don't always keep their promise to pay her. She is terrified of the black man in her life, whom Faulkner provocatively names "Jesus." Nancy prays that her Jesus will not come again, but the story ends without settling that issue. There is evidence that in the early 1930s Faulkner apparently began a longer narrative that would develop Nancy's life and character more fully, but it was never completed. Two decades later, however, when Faulkner decided to write a sequel to Sanctuary - also published in 1931 - he decided to include Nancy in it, as "Nancy Mannigoe," a servant in the Stevens rather than the Compson family. Temple Stevens (nee Drake) hires her to take care of three children: her son, her infant daughter and herself, or at least the part of Temple herself that remains haunted by her own experience with the dark side of life. The three-act drama at the center of Requiem for a Nun is not Nancy's story, but it is organized around Nancy's sentencing and execution for the murder of that infant, whom "she smothered in its cradle" in what she believes is a just cause, one that her God will forgive (39). (In a kind of aside, the Governor and Stevens discuss "Nancy's heritage," as reflected in that last name Faulkner gives her in the novel (94). Manigault (pronounced manigo) is, as the Governor notes, an "old Charleston name" (94). Historically, Peter Manigault, a slave owner and politician in South Carolina, was probably the richest man in colonial America. Gavin goes further, replying that the name "Maingault" connects Nancy to the "Normans" who conquered England in 1066.)