Sartoris Bank|Merchants' and Farmers' Bank (Location Key)


This bank is the first piece of unreal estate in Yoknapatawpha that Faulkner created. Both the unfinished "Father Abraham" manuscript and Flags in the Dust, his first published Yoknapatawpha fiction, begin inside the bank - "Abraham" with Flem Snopes as its president; Flags with old Bayard Sartoris in control. Bayard founded it in the 1890s, which is why colloquially it is referred to as the 'Sartoris Bank,' but its official name is the Merchants' and Farmers' Bank. In The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner's second Yoknapatawpha fiction, "the old Merchants' and Farmers' Bank" is described as having "failed" sometime before 1928 (216), but in nine more texts, from "That Evening Sun" through The Reivers, it remains open and prosperous. The calculated steps by which Flem Snopes becomes its president is a major narrative element in the last two volumes of the Snopes trilogy, which in a sense bring Faulkner's imagination back to that origin moment in "Father Abraham." In The Town it is also called "the new bank" (44), to distinguish it from the older Bank of Jefferson, which was founded in "1830 or so" (280). Faulkner's own grandfather, John Wesley Thompson Falkner, started the First National Bank of Oxford in 1910. Banks, of course, are supposed to preserve things from loss, but just as Old Bayard loses control of his bank and Flem ultimately ends up in charge of it, in 1920 J.W.T. Falkner was forced to resign from the bank's presidency. In his fiction, however, Falkner's grandson could maintain ultimate control over the bank's fortunes. (See also the entry for Bank of Jefferson in the index.)

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Sartoris Bank|Merchants' and Farmers' Bank