Unnamed County Seat (Location Key)


Though Flags in the Dust does not name the town from which Bayard Sartoris leaves Mississippi for the last time, it is at least 30 miles northeast of Jefferson and has a railroad. If Jefferson is more or less on the map where Oxford, Mississippi, is located, then that town would probably be Ripley, Mississippi. This town has a "square," suggesting that like Jefferson and the real Ripley it is a county seat (368), and a railroad station, which in this case is explicitly segregated into a "waiting room" and a "colored waiting room" (369). Ripley is where the Falkner family rose to its greatest prominence, thanks to the achievements of Colonel William Falkner, whom Faulkner always acknowledged as the original for the character of Colonel John Sartoris. Among those achievements was building the railroad, which would give a special autobiographical poignancy to the way Bayard Sartoris rides into exile on those tracks. It is, however, by no means certain that Faulkner was thinking of this town as Ripley - and since Bayard's own great-grandfather was a railroad-builder too, the fact that it's a train that carries him away from home is poignant enough already.

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