Res Grier

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Res Grier
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Grier, Res
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Res, the farmer at the head of the Grier family, appears very differently in each of the three stories Faulkner wrote about the family during the early 1940s. In the first, "Two Soldiers," he appears almost stereotypically, as a 'shiftless' poor white farmer who is perpetually behind on his work and against his oldest son's enlistment, apparently so that he can keep his labor on the farm: "the country ain't being invaded," he says, and besides, he spent almost eight months during the first World War in uniform in Texas, which should be "enough for me and mine to have to do to protect the country" (85). In "Shingles for the Lord," although still characterized by his poverty - "I don't own anything that even I would borrow," he claims (34) - he shows himself as a trickster, and over-reacher, and a cock-eyed optimist. In the last of the three, "Shall Not Perish," he appears a hard-working farmer, a thoughtful husband, and a father who takes care even to make sure his son's shoes are well-shined. These differences are typical of Faulkner's willingness to adapt even his recurring characters to the imaginative needs of a new text. The fact that when this character recurs in two texts from the 1950s he has a different first name is typical too, given Faulkner's carelessness about checking previous fictions when he wrote new ones. So in "By the People" and again in The Mansion, it is Eck Grier rather than Res who tries to get ahead by swapping a dog for a piece of work, an incident first described in "Shingles for the Lord."