The title of this story refers to John Sartoris' sister, Virginia Du Pre, and seems unequivocally to establish the family's aristocratic credentials (another title Faulkner had considered was "An Empress Passed"). The story begins by in effect calling the roll of Sartoris males as a kind of well-established noble lineage. But in its second paragraph the story adds a radically new branch to the family tree when it identifies Elnora, who in Flags in the Dust was referred to in passing as a "mulatto," as John Sartoris' unacknowledged daughter. In later fictions like Absalom! and Go Down, Moses the existence of the racially mixed children of the slave system raises complex moral problems, and perhaps even here calls the honorability of the Sartorises somewhat into question. But although the story begins with Elnora's cabin, which is almost certainly a former slave quarters, and is largely told from her perspective, Faulkner ultimately uses Elnora to build a monument to the Sartorises as "born quality" (732). And Elnora herself makes no claim on her inheritance, referring to her own father only as "Old Marse John" (733). The claim she does make is "I knows trash" - "Quality can't see that, because it quality. But I can" (734). The role the story writes for her and that she seems entirely content to fulfill is as the guardian of the (white) family's greatness. She asserts her and her children's superiority to "town trash" like Narcissa Benbow (729), who "won't never be a Sartoris woman" (730), who goes to Memphis "same as a nigger on a excursion" (733), but the thought that her "black children" might be entitled to share the wealth and privilege of the (white) family never enters her mind - nor, despite acknowledging Elnora, does the text of the narrative ever entertain that idea (732).

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Sartorises in There Was a Queen
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Affiliated Characters

(Old) Bayard Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
(Young) Bayard Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Benbow Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Carolina Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Colonel John Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Du Pre - "There Was a Queen"
Elnora - "There Was a Queen"
Isom - "There Was a Queen"
Joby - "There Was a Queen"
Johnny Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Mrs. Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Narcissa Benbow Sartoris - "There Was a Queen"
Saddie - "There Was a Queen"
Sartoris Children - "There Was a Queen"
Unnamed Mother of Elnora - "There Was a Queen"
Virginia Sartoris Du Pre - "There Was a Queen"