Sebastian Gualdres

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Sebastian Gualdres
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Gualdres, Sebastian
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In "Knight's Gambit" Sebastian Gualdres is "the Argentine cavalry captain" whom Mrs. Harriss and her children meet in South America after Mr. Harriss’s death (170). He is one of the more exotic figures to appear in Yoknapatawpha. The narrative notes the stereotypical assumptions that the people of Yoknapatawpha have about him as "a Latin" (174), but in its depiction of his courtesy, his pride and his machismo, the narrative itself seems not unwilling to reinforce the stereotypes. Gavin Stevens calls him a "dark romantic foreign knight" (192, though he is not the "knight" of the story's title). Gualdres calls himself a "simple gaucho, paysano" (238). (A "paysano" is a countryman of the Argentine; the term is often used synonymously with “gaucho.) Max Harriss calls him "a fortune-hunting Spick" (144). Much to Max’s annoyance, Gualdres is better at everything - horses, fencing, women - that the young Yoknapatawphan thinks he has mastered. Gualdres’s sexuality is an interesting question. He has an affair with Miss Cayley, a young woman from a neighboring farm. But there is something Whitmanesque and potentially homoerotic about his circle of male acquaintances in Yoknapatawpha: "out-of-doors men, usually bachelors" (174). Stevens, with his knight’s gambit, manages both to save Gualdres's life, and to maneuver the Argentinian captain into marrying Miss Harriss, and then, indirectly, into enlisting as a private in "a 1942 United States Army cavalry regiment" (254). When The Mansion briefly retells the story of "Knight's Gambit," he is referred to simply as a "steeple-chasing cavalry officer" from Argentina (282).