(Old Man) Ash

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(Old Man) Ash
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Ash, (Old Man)
(Old Man) Bush
Uncle Ash
Free Black
Domestic Service
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Personal Servant

Servant of Major de Spain who accompanies the white hunters each fall. Ratliff describes Ash as "Major's nigger, a-helping around camp" (67), but he appears to be the highest ranking of the black servants at the camp, in charge of the kitchen and controlling the "jug" of whisky (68). As a black servant, Ash is overlooked by the white men in camp - Ratliff admits at the beginning of his tale that he "never knowed who Old Man Ash was, no more than Luke did" (67) - but Faulkner's narrative reveals Ash to be observant and smart: when he overhears Ratliff's suggestion that Luke seek a cure for his hiccups from John Basket near the Indian mound, he immediately recognizes an opportunity to get revenge against this one white man. In the original Saturday Evening Post publication of the story, his character was named Old Man Bush. For both Collected Stories and Big Woods, Faulkner changed his name to Ash; in the latter volume, he is further described as son of "Ash Wylie."

DELETED: too much plot: When Ash learns that Luke has taken Ratliff’s advice, he sees an opportunity for revenge against Luke for burning his collar at the Negro church picnic some twenty years earlier. Only at the end of the story does Ratliff discover Ash’s role in the joke against Luke: Ash had gone to John Basket and told him “a new revenue agent [was] coming up dar tonight, but dat he warn’t much en dat all dey had to do was to give um a good skeer en likely he would go away” (78). When pressed for why he had perpetrated the joke against Luke, Ash reveals that Luke had burned his collar, which he had bought for “fo’ bits” (50 cents) and which “wuz blue, wid a red picture of de race betwixt de Natchez en de Robert E. Lee running around hit”; the story ends with Ash saying he makes ten dollars a week now, “En I jest wish I knowed where I could buy another collar like dat fer half of hit. I wish I did” (79).
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