Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Lost South

Faulkner is a master of describing the broken south. His characters are often the bitter and broken inheritors of a twisted and mythologic history. His white characters are invariably trapped in their own memories of a past that never was, unable to accept a present vastly different than anything they could ever imagine. His black characters go beyond the simple sambo character, but they are still stereotypical, the faithful servants that require a benevolent white hand, or faceless laborers. Underneath these characters, there is always some sordid, filthy secret that could destroy a family or personage. I enjoy the flipping of the southern mythos and Faulkner's love of exposing the hypocrisy of the former landed gentry or the moneyed "town" people. There is this constant tension between the land, the love of land, the people of the land, and those of the town. And even within the people of the land, Faulkner differentiates between those with money who own land and those who work the land. His disdain for the wealthy of the south is palpable, and yet, he has a definite love of the south. The land, the people, the common people, are filled with nobility and magic.

This story focuses mainly on the sordid history of the moneyed class, but it also looks at the land and the fruit of the land and its connection with memory. The jasmine is the only connection left t the family from their wing in Carolina, that and a piece of old stained glass. The jasmine has grown thick and helathy, its scent flowing into the house, almost overpowering. It covers everything with its sweet, obliterating anything before it. Like memory, the jasmine grows over time, exerts more influence, eventually pushing everything away, until there is nothing but the memory left.