Shreve MacKenzie|McCannon

Character Key Number: 
Display Name: 
Shreve MacKenzie|McCannon
Sort Name: 
Shreve MacKenzie|McCannon
Ever Present in Yoknapatawpha?: 

Shreve is Quentin Compson's Canadian roommate at Harvard in two of Faulkner's greatest novels: The Sound and the Fury (where his last name is MacKenzie) and Absalom, Absalom! (where it's McCannon). In the first novel he's largely defined by his concern for Quentin's well-being, which apparently leads some of their fellow students in the novel (and has definitely led a few critics writing about the novel) to speculate that the bond between them may be homoerotic. There is no clear evidence of that in the text, but his anxiety about Quentin leads Shreve, for instance, to offer to return to the campus with Quentin after the fight with Gerald Bland. Shreve does not, however, suspect that Quentin is planning to commit suicide. In Absalom! his relationship with Quentin is defined more particularly by the structural and thematic needs of the story Faulkner is writing about the South and its legacies. As someone who's never been further south than Massachusetts, for example, Shreve's provides a different perspective on the story Quentin brings with him when he travels north to Massachusetts. Shreve's attitude toward the story is often flippant, even sarcastic, which the narrator refers to "that incorrigible unsentimental sentimentality of the young which takes the form of hard and often crass levity" (221). As a Canadian, Shreve says that history is "something my people haven't got" (289): he is described at one point listening to Quentin "with intent detached speculation and curiosity" (206). He teases Quentin about the South ("It's better than the theatre, isn't it," 176), but does get caught up in the questions raised by the Sutpens. And what he and Quentin share, especially as youths, often produces moments of almost mystical communion between them and (apparently) with the past, especially with the two young men in the story, Henry and Bon, who of course meet at college too. In the "Genealogy" that Faulkner includes at the end of Absalom! we learn that Shreve's full name is Shrevlin - and that he is the only character in the novel who is known to be still alive.