Unnamed People of Yoknapatawpha 9

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Unnamed People of Yoknapatawpha 9
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Unnamed People of Yoknapatawpha 9
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In "By the People" the "People" of Yoknapatawpha are organized around several different points of reference. This entry refers to a group defined at the start of the story around the character of Ratliff: the ones who buy what he's selling as a salesman and the ones who enjoy listening to him as a raconteur. We could call these the (white) people of Yoknapatawpha as consumers. This group is subdivided by location and gender. As a salesman he demonstrates sewing machines and compact organs for "ladies" who, when they live in the county's rural areas, sit "in a circle of chairs outside" or, in town, sit in a "parlor" decorated with "antimacassars" and "wax flowers" (86). As a "man among men" he is equally at home talking with "squatting, whittling" men sitting in front of a country store or with professionals and other salesman "gathered along the banquette of the hotel" (86). Ratliff's ability to appeal to these people, across the various divisions of class and gender, is presented as a virtue. (When the narrative's focus shift to Senator Snopes and politics, popularity with the people, presumably the same people, seems like a vice.)