On the Trains between Jefferson and Oxford (Location Key)


Four important characters in Sanctuary ride about half a dozen different trains to get from Yoknapatawpha to Memphis or Oxford. This entry provides a Location for those trips, which probably at times run on the same set of tracks, though that's not entirely clear. Horace Benbow, Clarence and Virgil Snopes, and Fonzo ride different trains between Jefferson and Memphis. Horace also travels by train to Oxford, and on his return trip from there the train makes a stop at the station in Holly Springs. Holly Springs was the real town where travelers between Oxford and Memphis changed trains. It appears in other fictions and on one of Faulkner's maps as the fictional "Memphis Junction"; it's hard to say why Faulkner uses its real name in this novel. Otherwise Faulkner's narrative makes it difficult to retrace Horace's route to and from Oxford in Chapter 19: he takes at least 4 and probably 5 or 6 different trains. The narrator describes the way the other passengers on the first train look in surprisingly stark and violent terms (168), and depicts a scene of college students being young and bright on the second train (168-70); on the first return train Horace has a long conversation with Clarence Snopes (172-77). And many different kinds of people ride on these trains, including a man who "spits tobacco juice" onto the floor (168) and "a countrywoman with an infant in her arms" (170); almost parenthetically, the narrator notes the existence of the "jim crow car," in which black people have to ride (168). Faulkner may make the route between Jefferson and Oxford so hard to map because he wants to obfuscate the spatial relationship between the real town of Oxford and his fictional Jefferson; in any case, this difficulty informs our decision to use this omnibus Location as the setting for all these episodes.

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On the Trains between Jefferson, Holly Springs, Memphis and Oxford
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On the Trains between Jefferson, Holly Springs, Memphis and Oxford