Unnamed Jefferson Townspeople

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Unnamed Jefferson Townspeople
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Unnamed Jefferson Townspeople
The Town
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The (white) people of Jefferson as a group play a number of roles in Light in August, from watching the stories of Joe and Joanna and Hightower unfold to helping to tell them. This "Unnamed Townspeople" entry represents that group, often referred to by the narrative as "the town." As a kind of character, this group can be seen on Sunday mornings walking decorously to church "beneath parasols, carrying bibles and prayerbooks" (297), but we also see them telling Byron the sordid story of Hightower's marriage, and flocking to the jail or the courthouse to witness Christmas' arrest or trial. From their "ancestors" the current people of "the town" seem to have inherited strong critical opinions about strangers, outsiders, or any resident of Jefferson suspected of unconventional behavior. When Faulkner refers to the town, he sometimes intends for us to understand that the whole of white Jefferson shares a common opinion and judgment on a particular matter (e.g., shunning Joanna Burden because of her racial attitudes, family history, and present behavior). At other times, he divides the Jefferson townsfolk by class, gender, age, or profession (e.g., according to whether they know that Christmas and Brown sell bootleg whisky). At still other times, he shows segments of the town or the townspeople to be in disagreement (e.g., according to whether they wish to protect or prosecute the men who beat up Hightower). Faulkner does not present the opinion or judgment of black Jefferson under the name of townspeople; he almost invariably presents this material through individual characters, such as the boy that first directs Christmas to the Burden Place (227).

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