Unnamed Inhabitants of Modern Jefferson

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Unnamed Inhabitants of Modern Jefferson
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Unnamed Inhabitants of Modern Jefferson
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The short story "A Name for the City" and Requiem for a Nun both characterize the inhabitants of Jefferson in the middle of the 20th century fairly negatively. The novel develops that critique in more detail. The boasting about progress done by Jefferson's members of "Rotary and Lions Clubs and Chambers of Commerce and City Beautifuls" (201, 4) is described as "a furious beating of hollow drums toward nowhere, but merely to sound louder than the next little human clotting to its north or south or east or west, dubbing itself city as Napoleon dubbed himself emperor" (4). While these leaders "confound forever seething with motion and motion with progress" (4), the novel provides its own account of that process. When they first lay out the plan of the courthouse and the town on the uncleared ground under a "grove of oaks," the settlers themselves have a vision of the "lawyers and doctors and dentists" and others who will someday live around the as-yet-unbuilt Square (31). Less respectable are the men whom the narrator refers to as "white-skinned rascals and demagogues and white supremacy champions" who are among the men elected to office by black voters as well as white (38), and the "county fathers" who scheme to tear down and replace the courthouse (38). In the last part of the novel, the narrative refers to several more examples of these modern inhabitants: the "high school students" who remember the Governor who spent time in the jail (196); the "new people in the town" at mid-century - "strangers, outlanders" who live in small modern houses in "new subdivisions" (196). On the other hand, the current population also includes what the narrator calls "the irreconcilable Jeffersonians and Yoknapatawphians" (198), older inhabitants who remain estranged from the modern elements of the town and loyal to such "obsolescent" things as "wood-burning ranges and cows and vegetable gardens" (197).