Gavin is again the district attorney, but despite his job he remains detached from the novel's story of crime and punishment. Instead he is introduced late in the narrative to provide a racial explanation for the murderer's behavior. Here he is linked directly to a family history, and through it, implicitly, to a Southern history. The earliest Stevens in Yoknapatawpha owned slaves before the Civil War and his grandfather hated Yankee carpetbaggers during Reconstruction. Gavin got his education among the Yankees - he's a Harvard Phi Beta Kappa - but his ideas about "white blood" and "black blood" reflect the pseudo-scientific bases for Southern segregation. Whether we are meant to see Gavin's interpretation as another 'deductive' analysis of the truth, as in his detective stories, or as yet another of this novel's depictions of the way characters are warped by the past, is a question readers have to decide for themselves.

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Gavin Stevens - Light in August
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