University of Mississippi, Oxford (Location Key)


The University of Mississippi in Oxford opened in 1844, fifteen years before Henry Sutpen and Charles Bon meet there in Absalom, Absalom! According to Mr. Compson in that novel, in 1859 it is "a small new college in the Mississippi hinterland" (58). The "grove at the University" where Mr. Compson speculates Henry first sees Bon is a real part of the campus (76). The two young men both attend the Law School, which opened in 1854. A generation later Bayard Sartoris is a law student there in The Unvanquished. None of these young men graduate. A generation or two after that, Gavin Stevens does get his law degree from this same "State University" (Intruder in the Dust, 3), and the "college professor from the neighboring State University" who visits Gavin in Light in August almost certainly teaches there (444). The "archaeologists" in "An Error in Chemistry" who try to explore the "Indian and even aboriginal relics" that are preserved in the clay-pit on Pritchel's land are "from the State University" too (119). Although Faulkner attended classes there himself, briefly, and worked in the University Post Office, also briefly, in general he keeps his imaginative distance from the campus - just as in the fictions he keeps at least forty miles between the real Oxford and the fictional Jefferson. In fact, the biggest difference between Oxford and Jefferson is that when Faulkner created his town he left the college out of it. Women began attending the University in the 1880s. Temple Drake is an undergraduate there in Sanctuary, and the plot of that novel includes a trip from Jefferson to Oxford to try to find her. That quest takes Horace Benbow onto the campus, and even into the Post Office: three of the eight Locations on the inset map of Oxford for that novel are specific university sites, which have their own entries in this index. Temple herself refers to "the University" (100) and the railroad station "at the University" (164) when she recalls the incidents of Sanctuary in Requiem for a Nun.

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University of Mississippi, Oxford