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The Curse on the Land -- Faulkner's Fallen South

"I think a man ought to do more than just repudiate.  He should have been more affirmative instead of shunning people."
-- Faulkner on Ike McCaslin to Cynthis Grenier

Faulkner's Three Ages for Yoknapatawpha County

Ancient Time -- Chickasaw Time -- a period of ancient and mystic dignity

The Anglo-Saxon Disruption -- Feudal slavery, late 17th century through Civil War

The Reconstruction to Modernity -- Poor White despoilers and the break-up of slavery

Several Assertions

  1. The land owns the people more than the people own the land.
  2. Land ownership is a kind of stewardship.  It should not be passed from generation to generation.
  3. The curse on the land begins with Ikkemotubbe's selling of it to white settlers.
  4. The order of the Old South was unjust and therefore accursed.   It contained its own nascent fall.  It fell more from within than from without.
  5. Nonetheless, it did have some apprehension of the possibility of a true truth.
  6. Faulkner mourns the tragic, unjust nature of the Deep South.
  7. Yet he also rejects modernity and its destruction of community and tradition.
  8. Miscegenation is both an aspect of the South's injustice and a symbol of Faulkner's hope for racial reconciliation.
  9. "Blood" cannot be entirely avoided.  It carries with it a heritage of wisdom and of sin.
  10. The curse cannot be easily removed.  To repudiate it is not enough.  One must counter it with love.

"All manner of thing shall be well/ When the tongues of flame are in-folded/ Into the crowned knot of fire/ And the fire and the rose are one." -- T.S. Eliot, Little Gidding