Road Between Jefferson and Frenchman's Bend (Location Key)


The road that runs southeast from Jefferson to Frenchman's Bend is frequently traveled in the fictions. It is variously named the "southeast road" (The Town, 4), the "Jefferson high road" (Hamlet, 390), and even the "Valley road" ("Shall Not Perish," 106) - though elsewhere the "valley road" is the one that runs north from Jefferson (Flags in the Dust, 132). The distance between the town and the hamlet can vary in length from fiction to fiction; it's "eight miles" in "Hand Upon the Waters" (70) and twenty-two miles in "Two Soldiers" (88), but most often about twelve. There is no fiction in which it is described as paved, despite the designation of "high road," a designation that seems very inappropriate in As I Lay Dying, where it's the road that the Bundrens can't travel because of the flooding at Haley Bottom (185). In "Fool About a Horse," where there is good reason to be concerned about whether the mules will last the trip, the road is described as going "up them long hills" and then "down the hills" (124); it is definitely more hilly closer to Jefferson. At the end of the first chapter of Light in August it is from the "crest of the final hill" outside town that Lena Grove sees the "two columns of smoke" rising above the town's skyline (30). It is on this road within four miles of Jefferson that Cotton fails to kill himself in "The Hound"; see Site where Cotton Tries To Commit Suicide in the index. It is along this road that Flem Snopes and his relations advance in what the fictions often depict as an assault on Jefferson. It is on this road, riding Solon Quick's home-made bus back to the Bend, that the young narrator of "Shall Not Perish" has his epiphany about "America" (114-15). But among all the events that happen on this road, perhaps the most moving is V.K. Ratliff's unspoken vision of tragic "waste" as he drives back to the Bend after learning about Eula Varner's marriage to Flem in The Hamlet: it is September, and alongside the road "the cotton was open and spilling into the fields"; the "pickers" are seen "in stooping attitudes," "fixed amid the constant surf of bursting boils like piles in surf" (165).

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Road Between Jefferson and Frenchman's Bend
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Road Between Jefferson and Frenchman's Bend