Small Farms in Yoknapatawpha (Location Key)


In addition to the many small farms identified with specific farmers (like the Bundrens or the Griers among others in Frenchman's Bend), in three later fictions Faulkner refers more generally to Yoknapatawpha's smaller farms, such as the "forty- and fifty- and sixty-acre hill farms inaccessible from unmarked dirt roads" mentioned in Requiem for a Nun (193) and the "remote back-country dog-trot cabins" that Ratliff visits on his salesman's trips around the county in "By the People" (86). The adjectives here - "inaccessible," "remote", even "hill" - indicate that these farms are built on poor soil, compared to adjectives like 'rich' and 'bottom land' that are used in the fictions to describe the ground on which the big plantations have been built. The living that can be sweated out of these smaller pieces of land is an impoverished one, and according to The Mansion the families on these farms have always struggled for subsistence; at least, when that novel mentions how the three successive presidents of the Merchants' and Farmers' bank over the decades between the 1890s and the 1940s have all ridden around the county on horse-drawn carriages or in chauffeured cars to view "the cotton farms they represented the mortgages on" (174), it was a constant that many of them were "in process of foreclosure" (243). But at the same time, changes over the course of the 20th century - from the Depression of the 1930s to the way tractors make the cultivation of 40-acre farms still less economically feasible - lead to the disappearance of tenants and small farmers as well as mules. Given the preoccupations of Faulkner's art, the historical fact that so many small farms are disappearing may account for the imaginative fact that his later fiction appear to be more interested in them.

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Small Farms in Yoknapatawpha
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Small Farms in Yoknapatawpha