Unnamed People of Mottstown

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Unnamed People of Mottstown
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Unnamed People of Mottstown
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Like the "people of Jefferson" in Light in August, the collective "people of Mottstown," where Christmas' grandparents live for thirty years and where he himself is finally captured, play two roles in the novel: audience and narrator. As spectators, they are suspicious of newcomers - again like the people of Jefferson. When the Hineses first move to Mottstown, "the town" wonders about them but eventually comes to take their presence for granted (341). Decades later, when Christmas is captured, a crowd made up of "clerks" and "countrymen in overalls" and others quickly forms "about the square and before the jail (348). The next day, when the Jefferson officers arrive to take custody of Joe, the crowd swells to about two hundred and includes women. The town sheriff worries that the crowd may turn into a lynch mob, but they respond with talk instead of violence. Much of Chapter 14 (pages 349-361) is in quotation marks, but no single person is speaking. Instead, Faulkner allows the town and surrounding countryside to describe both Christmas' and the Hineses' behavior. It is introduced with a description of "the talk" that circulated "in electrically lighted rooms and in remote hill cabins with kerosene lamps," about "country churches" or the "dooryards of houses" (349). This collective voice is mostly male (talking to "wives and families" or while "womenfolks are in the kitchen, getting dinner" (349). It is decidedly white: the first line of this narration says that Christmas "dont look any more like a nigger than I do" (349). As a communal sensibility, it definitely assumes that there are specific differences between the races, but also acknowledges the difficulty of fitting Christmas' actions into that profile.

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