Road between Jefferson and Oxford (Location Key)


The road between Oxford and Jefferson really runs between Faulkner's experience and his fiction, but it is also traveled frequently by a number of characters in that fiction. In Absalom, Absalom! for example, Henry Sutpen and Charles Bon make a number of trips between Sutpen's Hundred and the college they attend in Oxford. Only two texts, however, actually include events that take place in the space between the real Oxford and the imagined Yoknapatawpha. In Faulkner's first Yoknapatawpha fiction, Flags in the Dust, Bayard Sartoris drives his fast car up to the unnamed "college" town north of Jefferson; he drives even faster on the return trip, scaring the three Negroes in the back seat. The road runs between and over a series of hills. Alongside the road "sparse negro cabins squat on the slopes," surrounded by "warped farmed implements," huddled in "the shiftless fashion of negroes" (145). In the trip Bayard's grandfather (also named Bayard) makes back to Jefferson from the university in Oxford in The Unvanquished, he and Ringo travel this "long road" together, riding horses side-by-side for forty miles to get to Sartoris (217); this is about a decade later in Faulkner's career, but half a century earlier in historical time. It might be interesting to speculate on why in all three of these examples the upper-class white characters travel in company with characters of color. In any case, no matter when or how characters travel between these two worlds, Faulkner never tells us very clearly how one gets to Jefferson from Oxford, or vice versa.

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Road between Jefferson and Oxford
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Road between Jefferson and Oxford