Unnamed Members of Ku Klux Klan 2

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Unnamed Members of Ku Klux Klan 2
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Unnamed Members of Ku Klux Klan 2
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In "By the People" and again in The Mansion Clarence Snopes uses Yoknapatawpha's Ku Klux Klan to advance his own political career, which serves as the occasion for Faulkner's one explicit engagement with the Klan as an element in U.S. history. Historically the Klan is a terrorist, white supremacist organization that came into existence in the South after the surrender at Appomattox and the abolition of slavery. Over the succeeding decades it grew stronger and weaker, spread to other parts of the U.S., and identified "Catholics and Jews" (131, 333) as targets in addition to the African Americans it originally sought to subjugate. In historical fact, Mississippi has been one of its strongholds, though these two texts are the only places where Faulkner mentions it by name. (In Go Down, Moses an unnamed group that is clearly meant to suggest the Klan appears in Yoknapatawpha in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War.) Both the story and the novel keep their distance from the organization, referring to the position of Klan leadership that Clarence Snopes holds as "its Kleagle, Dragon, whatever the title was" (131, 331); both texts say that "in our country" (that is, presumably, Yoknapatawpha) the KKK "never got very far and didn't last very long" (130. 330). The basis of Snopes' appeal to the more "liberal" voters in Jefferson is his professed determination to "destroy the Ku Klux Klan in our county" (131, 332). And in the texts he "did indeed destroy the Ku Klux Klan in Yoknapatawpha" at that time (333). When Linda Snopes Kohl campaigns to improve conditions for local blacks in the early 1940s, however, "a crude cross soaked in gasoline" is burned in front of the house where she lives; the "organization which put it there" is not explicitly identified, but cross-burning was a Klan signature (252). (See also the entry for Unnamed Night Riders in this index.)