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JETHRO TULL'S PROTEGEE: VERNON TULL'S HELPING HAND AND THE EQUINE DIALECTIC.

Vernon Tull, the Bundrens' helpful neighbor and a major narrator in As I Lay Dying, is an intertextual character in William Faulkner's apocryphal Yoknapatawpha County, prominently reappearing in different versions of the spotted horses story. (1) His surname and sound husbandry evoke Jethro Tull (1674-1741), the influential agronomist of the British Agricultural Revolution. Vernon successfully manages his mules and farm with a Protestant work ethic that distinguishes him from his poor hill farmer neighbors in Frenchman's Bend. Curiously, he holds his own within Mississippi's warped, ossified socioeconomic system, which is controlled by progressive racist rednecks and paternalistic Redeemers (Bourbon Democrats), whose hegemony is maintained by ideology but backed by medieval laws and paramilitary violence. This culture, arising from the embers of slavery, distorts the work ethos as it racially divides, exploits, and eventually eviscerates the agrarian community. As a sharecropper, the future banker Flem Snopes tells Will Varner, in The Hamlet, "Aint no benefit in farming. I figure on getting out of it soon as I can" (750). (2)

Faulkner's simultaneous idealization and subversion of Vernon's values are reflected in the equine dialectic--a historical tension within rural Mississippi symbolized by the predictable, sterile domesticated mules employed by the toiling farmers, and the unpredictable, primordially powerful spotted horses, which are supernatural entities that embody both the farmers' escapist dreams of romantic action and the ambitions of the impoverished hypersexual superior male riders, such as Jewel Bundren and Buck Hipps. (3) The farmers, with their primitive mule-drive plows, follow what Warwick Wadlington deems the "sacred economics"--a Calvinistic outlook leading Mississippi farmers to accept heaven as the compensation for earthly reversals (83-108). By contrast, Faulkner's spotted horses epitomize the hill people's ambivalence toward community and their desire for a lawless, unregulated lifestyle. While the farmers with their flesh and blood mules are ruined by the Great Depression and evicted by mechanization, the spotted horses, which Faulkner derives from his challenging early vignette "Carcassonne," are metaphorically electric, incorporeal, supernatural entities capable of morphing into new forms, such as fast cars, fighter planes, or even Flannery O'Connor's Dixie Limited. (4) Paradoxically, Vernon occupies an indeterminate liminal speace within the equine dialectic because he is both a successful farmer within Frenchman's Bend and an honorable entrepreneur with outside ties to the townsfolk of Jefferson. While he exhibits the traits of the successful superior male, he also accepts his responsibilities to family and community and avoids the hubris and greed that ensnares many of Faulkner's ambitious characters.

In The Hamlet, Flem Snopes's fraudulent spotted horse auction fundamentally alters the aesthetics of dealmaking and destroys the traditional balance of the equine dialectic. Whereas horse trading once provided a caveat emptor diversion, the unsaleable spotted horses are a worthless commodity foisted on a gullible community sold on dreams, greed, and desperation. While the greedy rubes are humorously fleeced, the speculative mania indiscriminately victimizes the entire community. Thus, even the prudently successful Vernon is injured when one of the escaped spotted horses upends the Tull family wagon. Their subsequent inability to collect legal compensation signifies the implosion of a dysfunctional society, whose greed and speculation portends to the larger economic and agricultural shifts in the South.

Faulkner began writing As I Lay Dying on October 25, 1929, the day after the stock market crash that initiatiated the Great Depression, but he wrote in the context of the already decade-long Southern agricultural depression. Dennis Mitchell, in The New History of Mississippi, describes the porous nature of cultural dominance in post-Reconstruction Mississippi. (5) During the Period of Redemption (1876-1903), the Redeemers, a coalition of former aristocratic planters, corporate lawyers, and merchants, governed through widespread election fraud, violence, and, eventually, voting restrictions; nevertheless, to maintain hegemony, they also ideologically differentiated themselves from the Republican and Populist opposition (217-45). This involved the propagation of a nostalgic view of the residual culture of the antebellum South and an appeal to white supremacy, preying on its fears of miscegenation and cultural descent into white trash status (245).

Populists during the 1880s and 1890s unsuccessfully fought the political stranglehold of the Redeemers on a variety of economic issues bankrupting the farmers. Mitchell notes the "indescribable suffering" this "corrupt political and economic system" inflicted upon most Mississippians (246). Besides poverty and illiteracy, scourges including pellagra, rickets, hookworm, yellow fever, and malaria meant that "conditions in the state were so bad that Northern life insurance companies refused to write policies for Mississippians" (246). Notwithstanding the emergence of Vardamanism, the dismal pattern of farm foreclosures from persistently falling cotton prices, sometimes below subsistence levels, continued into the 1920s and filled every surviving yeoman farmer with the anxiety of being reduced to tenancy or sharecropping.

In Rural Worlds Lost, Jack Temple Kirby describes the rural South in 1920 as similar but "in certain respects worse off" than the South of the 1870s because of the eroded soil, the cotton boll weevil, and the post-World War I plunge in cotton prices (xiv). Real substantive change came with the Roosevelt New Deal, but those reforms gradually decimated rural farming communities. While the Civil Conservation Corps (CCC) repaired the environmental damage of previous unsound farming and logging practices,6 the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) disproportionately benefited large planters, who used federal subsidies and loans to mechanize, improve efficiency, and expand the size of their farming operations (Mitchell 336-41). Mechanization favored economies of scale and made sharecropping an inefficient subdivision of land. In Faulkner's County: The Historical Roots of Yoknapatawpha, Don Doyle describes how the combustion engine tractor gradually replaced equine power thus gradually extending the rural exodus from the Great Migration of Blacks to all small acreage tillers (376-78). According to Kirby, by 1960, the pervasiveness of this enclosure and depopulation rivaled the eighteenth-century English Enclosure Movement (xv).

While the frequently depressed cotton economy bankrupted many farmers, the paternalistic Redeemer socioeconomic system enriched the "furnishing merchants," who employed "legislature-provided lien laws to exploit and essentially enslave a growing sharecropping population" (Mitchell 217). The merchants preyed upon the farmers' credit dependency and only advanced credit to those growing cotton. Furthermore, merchants charged high interest rates and dramatically inflated the price on goods bought on credit (Mitchell 227). As Sven Beckert notes in Empire of Cotton, the farmers were "locked in a cycle of debt and forced cotton production" (432). In The Hamlet, Will Varner--the largest landowner in Frenchman's Bend and a non-aristocratic Redeemer--exemplifies this new type of autocratic merchant-landowner, who stuffs ballot boxes, holds mortgages on most of the land he doesn't already own, and constantly "plan[s] his next mortgage foreclosure in private" (H 734). He owns all the local stores and "it [i]s considered, to put it mildly, bad luck for a man of the neighborhood to do his trading or gin his cotton or grind his meal or shoe his stock anywhere else" (H 733).

Faulkner portrays Frenchman's Bend as an underworld in which, like the actual Lafayette County, violent lawlessness is "a common fact of life" (Mitchell 275). Mitchell vividly describes Mississippi's frontier mentality during the Period of Redemption:
   Minor disputes escalated into matters of "honor," and sheriffs
   usually understood murder committed in the heat of such arguments
   to be justifiable homicide.... White planters considered
   themselves above the law while black men, with justification, saw
   themselves outside the law. (219)


Frenchman's Bend is a place of "infrequent adulteries and more frequent homicides among themselves and were their own courts judges and executioners.... Strange Negroes ... absolutely refuse to pass through it after dark" (H 733). Besides growing cotton, the hill people clandestinely transform their corn crop into whiskey. What they don't drink they sell, and they murder any Federal agents who dare to interfere (H 732). Faulkner's essay "Mississippi" describes how this frontier mentality persists into the 1920s, where when the blacks "forge ahead in that economic rivalry with Snopes," it drives the "Snopes in droves into the Ku Klux Klan" (ESPL 19).

In his Yoknapatawpha oeuvre, Faulkner employs dystopian imagery drawn from the Homerian Hades, the Christian Inferno, the Conradian Congo, and the Eliotian Waste Land. The title of As I Lay Dying refers to "the Eleventh Book of the Odyssey," where in Hades, Odysseus meets Agamemnon, who, referring to Clytemnestra's treachery, says, "As I lay dying the woman with the dog's eyes would not close my eyelids for me as I descended into Hades" (qtd. in Blotner 248-49). Whereas, in The Hamlet, Faulkner refers to Frenchman's Bend as "a little lost village, nameless, without grace, forsaken" (867), where Flem Snopes humorously outfoxes and deposes Satan from his throne in Hell (870-73). This passage also alludes to the Hamlet's cursed origin as the subdivision of the abandoned slave plantation of the nameless Frenchman. Finally, Faulkner alludes to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness when he describes the problematically honorable Ratliff selling his sewing machines on new turf: "he looked about him with something of the happy surmise of the first white hunter blundering into the idyllic solitude of a virgin African vale teeming with ivory, his for the mere shooting and fetching out" (781).

Against this backdrop, Vernon Tull is seen as a successful farmer, engaged in sound husbandry. His surname alludes to agricultural achievement. In Jethro Tull: His Influence on Mechanized Agriculture, G.E. Fussell describes how "the name of Jethro Tull, a barrister come farmer, figures in almost every textbook of economic and farming history from the most elementary schoolbook to the most advanced study" (5). His voluminous treatise, Horse-Hoeing Husbandry (1731) would go through numerous editions, and, for over a hundred years, prove highly influential, inspiring many acolytes and detractors (25). In 1701, he invents the first working horse-drawn seed drill (see figure 1) and in 1714 the horse-drawn hoe or four-coulter plow (see figure 2). Fussell places him among the "progressive farmers" who pragmatically apply agronomic theories to actual cultivation (1). While E.R. Wicker, in "A Note on Jethro Tull: Innovator or Crank?" warns "there seems to be less agreement concerning either the specific principles of Tullian husbandry or the validity of those principles," "the mythology surround[ing] Jethro Tull persists into the twentieth-century" (46). Since Faulkner presumably knew and accepted the popular mythology of Jethro Tull, his actual accomplishments are less germane than the symbolism his name invokes in Vernon, who relies upon primitive farming tools not far advanced from the Tullian inventions. Vernon's sound husbandry and willingness to confront the changing outside world befits his entrepreneurial acumen. (7)

In Faulkner's fiction, the mule, the first element in the equine dialectic, provides a trope for community in Frenchman's Bend. Compared with spotted horses, mules are neutered beasts, well suited for the repetitive job of carving furrows. While mules play second fiddle to horses in Faulknerian bestiary criticism, Larry Sawers, in "The Mule, the South, and Economic Progress" notes the practical advantages mules offer over draft horses, in cultivating cotton and other row crops, which leads to their use by 75% of all Southern farmers in 1925. Some of the mules' advantages involve: creating a straighter furrow, withstanding indifferent care, surviving mistreatment, and heat resistance (667-75). Vernon's unwillingness to risk his valuable animal helping the Bundrens ford the dangerously flooded Yoknapatawpha River illustrates both the sensible limits of altruism and his sound husbandry. By contrast, Anse callously and unsuccessfully gambles his "bone-gaunted mules" in the deluge (AILD 114, 148-49).

While the mule is a sensible animal for the farmers, the commodification of cotton makes their backbreaking exertions a Sisyphean gesture in futility. Faulkner's stories equate the mules with castration, domestication, and unfulfilled dreams. Victor Strandberg describes Faulkner's "biopsychology of sex" being "expressed through animal imagery," which equates "married men with domesticated animals like dogs or mules (Anse Bundren or Vernon Tull), and Superior Males with wild or imperfectly tamed horses (Jewel Bundren, Thomas Sutpen)" (29). Thus spotted horses signify polygamy and "'bitless masculinity'" whereas "domesticated men [are] useful plug horses that ... head into the stall at evening" (29).

Other characters attest to Vernon's technical acumen and agronomic astuteness. (8) When Doc Peabody is summoned to the dying Addie Bundren, he encapsulates how Vernon's husbandry translates into sound economics: "maybe Vernon Tull sending for me again, getting me there in the nick of time, as Vernon always does things, getting the most for Anse's money like he does for his own" (41). If Peabody considers Anse "a luckless man," Vernon's ability to pay off his mortgage by cutting a wide swath of lumber near Tull's Bridge suggests something beyond luck or Providence (42). (9) Darl and Cash Bundren admiringly laud Vernon's accomplishments, one of them stating: "He cut a sight of timber outen here then.... Most folks that logs in this here country, they need a durn good farm to support the sawmill. Or maybe a store. But I reckon Vernon could" (143). "I reckon so. He's a sight," the other responds (143). By contrast, the Bundrens repeatedly have bad luck. Anse is injured when a load of wood falls on him, and Jewel and Darl break a wagon axle while trying to earn three dollars hauling a load of lumber (52). Vernon's successful ability to move lumber illustrates his mobility and his ideological willingness to embrace change. One of the Bundren brothers admiringly remarks, "He never would have got that timber out of here if he hadn't cleaned out that old road" (143). Conversely, the flood forces Darl and Cash to traverse a "floorless road," which portends to their impending disaster (143).

While Anse blames his personal reversals on providence and the government-built road in front of his house, Vernon believes in individual agency and challenges Wadlington's "sacred economics." Vernon observes, "A fellow's got to guess ahead now and then" (AILD 29). While he does not reject the fundamentalist ethos outright, he challenges Cora's belief in the sacred economics by pointing out the contradictions in her belief that "It was the hand of God" that caused the log to strike the Bundren wagon (153). He questions why she calls the attempted crossing "foolish" if the accident is providential (153). Cora has no answer and begins singing.

In The Hamlet, Vernon bridges the rural-urban divide through his friendships with Ratliff and stable owner Odum Bookwright, which involve business deals and gossip about the devious machinations of the Snopes clan. Besides logging, Vernon supplements his farming income by hauling cattle with Bookwright. According to the sacred economics and the inexorable reality of farm foreclosures, he should be a tragic figure, who does everything right but falls on his face, and yet the young Vernon eats steak in a Jefferson restaurant (H 79497), the increasingly affluent middle age Vernon no longer wears overalls when he goes to Jefferson (AILD 11), and the older Vernon allows Ruby Lamar to use his telephone to report Tommy's murder (S 104-05).

Vernon fluctuates between leader and henpecked husband. In The Hamlet, the young Vernon is a "gaunt" man with "sedate and innocent blue" eyes whose "absolutely clean though faded and patched overalls" convey a saintly mien (737, 1033). Faulkner henpecks him as the "breathing archetype and protagonist of all men who marry young and father only daughters and are themselves but the eldest daughter of their own wives" (737). Nevertheless, he has "two separate expressions--a temporary one of static peace and quiet overlaying a constant one of definite even though faint harriedness" (737). In "The House That Tull Built," Gail Morrison argues Vernon "unexpectedly" possesses "an inner complexity that helps account for his fascination with the Bundrens" (166). While he functions as a normative standard against the Bundrens and the Snopeses, it is highly problematic to speak of Platonic ideals in a dysfunctional society, whose values are framed by exploitation, injustice, and murder.

Horses symbolize both the residual Dixie culture and the instrumentality conferring power, mobility, and aristocratic status upon Southern males humbled by the Civil War and the subsequent economic colonial occupation (Wadlington 6). However, riding horses are costly items to purchase and maintain. By contrast, spotted horses, the second component of the equine dialectic, are inexpensive, albeit dangerous mounts, which bring their risk-taking hypermasculine riders into the zone of the Other, where rugged individualists, with aristocratic pretensions and the will to dominate, can savor the sublime frisson of teetering on the edge of the abyss. In Faulkner in the University, Faulkner, himself the childhood owner of a spotted horse, said the spotted horse "symbolized the hope, the aspiration of the masculine part of society that is capable of doing, of committing puerile folly for some gewgaw that has drawn him, as juxtaposed to the cold practicality of the women ..." (29-30, 66).

James Potts, in "The Shade of Faulkner's Horse: Archetypal Immortality in the Postmodern South," points out how the dialogic nature of Faulkner's complex and nuanced employment of the spotted horse leads critics to hold multivalent interpretations (112). Potts calls Faulkner's use of horses, "the embodiment of dreams of nobility, as a measure of manhood, and as a wedge between the past and the present generations" (109). By contrast, John Howell, in "Faulkner, Prufrock, and Agamemnon," associates them with "the life force," "mana," and "sexual abnormality" (213). Lance Langdon, in "Commodifying Freedom," links them to mobility and the possibility of escaping from the farm (33). Dwight Eddins, in "Metahumour in Faulkner's 'Spotted Horses,'" explicitly associates them with "kaleidoscopes," "supernatural creatures," and "'circus' performers," which belong to a "phantasmagoria," that conveys "an imagery of light-play and general insubstantiality that constantly suggests violation of the norm" (24-25). He places them in the "nebulous realm of idle fantasies," which includes "'get-rich-quick' schemes" (24). Writing in fractious 1968, James Sanderson narrowly reads spotted horses "as an element of social evil" threatening the safety of the community (700).

Faulkner gives special sexual endowment to the overachieving males who dare to ride these horses. The illegitimate Jewel's name has sexual as well as economic connotations. As Darl observes, the "wooden-face[d]" Jewel is "endued with life from the hips down" (AILD 4). Vernon Tull's daughter Kate observes "there's more gals than one around here that dont want to see Jewel tied down. Well, they needn't to worry" (34). Likewise, Buck Hipps, the name of the Texan pitchman from the spotted horse stories, is an obvious double entendre. Faulkner's description is suggestive: "When he thrust himself through and turned to herd them back from the horses they saw, thrust into the hip pockets of his tight jeans pants, the butt of a heavy pearl-handled pistol and a florid carton such as small cakes come in" (H 984). (10) Richard Parker, in the "Two-Way Texan," focuses on how "Hipps" places the attention on the "bucking motion" of his "primary region" (11). Additionally, he zoomorphizes "Buck" and suggests his name rhymes with "fuck" (11). Parker provocatively seeks to queer the Texan based upon the parallel posterior placement of his pistol and confection (11).

Faulkner explains the symbolism of Jewel's purchase of the "dangerous untamed horse," by calling it "a simple quick way to show that he did not belong to that family. That he was the alien there" (FU 109). Darl historicizes Jewel's horse into local Yoknapatawpha lore: "It was a descendant of those Texas ponies Flem Snopes bought here twenty-five years ago and auctioned off for two dollars a head and nobody but old Lon Quick ever caught his and still owned some of the blood because he could never give it away" (AILD 134). While Jewel has trained this semi-wild animal, it remains dangerous: "Without looking back the horse kicks at him, slamming a single hoof into the wall with a pistol-like report. Jewel kicks him in the stomach" (AILD 13). In The Hamlet, the fearless Texan violently controls these creatures with "pink faces" and "mismatched eyes," which are as "wild as deer, deadly as rattlesnakes" (983). Nevertheless, a horse manages to viciously eradicate the end of his ear (984).

When Jason Compson, from the The Sound and the Fury, spends Good Friday, April 6, 1928, unsuccessfully speculating on the New York Cotton Exchange and distractedly chasing his niece Quentin and her red-tied circus pitchman, he highlights the pervasive speculative mania sweeping the already financially depressed South. Jason astutely describes the reality of the cotton economy:

"Cotton is a speculator's crop. They fill the farmer full of hot air and get him to raise a big crop for them to whipsaw on the market, to trim the suckers with. Do you think the farmer gets anything out of it except a red neck and a hump in his back? You think the man that sweats to put it into the ground gets a red cent more than a bare living," I says. "Let him make a big crop and it wont be worth picking; let him make a small crop and he wont have enough to gin" (191)

However, like the farmers who buy horses they cannot control, Jason, the aristocrat reduced to clerking in Earl's farmers' supply store, ironically goes short on an esoteric futures contract he doesn't fully understand. Like a degenerate gambler, he knows speculating is "a sucker game," but he deludes himself into thinking his ten-dollar monthly subscription to a New York advisory service gives him "inside information" from "people who're right there on the ground ... [and who] have one of the biggest manipulators in New York for an adviser" (SF 192). In "Skunked on the New York Cotton Exchange," Wayne W. Westbrook wryly observes, "After all his denouncing of Wall Street and the northeastern financial crowd, Jason fancies himself in league with their biggest thief." (66). Westbrook praises Faulkner for accurately depicting a Southern cotton culture, which is rife with the "Speculative excitement" sweeping the entire country during the late 1920s (62). He credits Faulkner for both perceiving how this "feverish atmosphere ... infect[s] even rural pockets in Mississippi" and for his "realistic portrayal of the populist distrust of Wall Street and northeastern finance," which goes back to the Populists and "linger[s] on in the South until long after the Depression" (62). Indeed, Westbrook sees Jason's cynical attitude about "the New York financial crowd as well as his anti-Semitism and xenophobia" as "common among Southern farmers and townspeople" (62).

Flem's fraudulent spotted horse auction in The Hamlet revisits the speculative mania sweeping the South through its parody of the cotton "spot" market. Unlike the futures market, the "spot" market involves immediate trades with the price determined by "open outcry" (Westbrook 54). The fraud succeeds because of the Texan's enchanting carnival barker performance punctuated by the cubistically morphing spotted horses, which become like mesmerizing musicians and circus performers. In "Why Did the Snopeses Name Their Son 'Wallstreet Panic'?: Depression Humor in Faulkner's The Hamlet," Andrea Dimino calls Flem a "master of illusion" who arrives like P.T. Barnum, "with the aura of a circus parade" (167). His greatest illusion is evading legal culpability "by forming a hidden business relationship with the Texan" (168). The "shadowy Flem pulls the strings, backed up by the pistol-toting Texan" (169). Dimino analogizes this relationship to the reshaping of the American landscape due to the emergence of hidden ownership in large corporations, which suggests "a crisis of value that extends far beyond Yoknapatawpha County" (169).

Faulkner shifts the original meaning of the spotted horse auction in Father Abraham into a critique about speculation, financial panics, and the Great Depression by introducing, in The Hamlet version of the spotted horses story, the suggestively named Wallstreet Panic Snopes and by expanding the role of hotelier Mrs Littlejohn, whose activities symbolize a wash sale. In the convoluted history of the spotted horses tale, there is an interesting evolution involving the naming, unnaming, and renaming of Eck Snopes's son(s). Father Abraham features the blacksmith Eck's suggestively named son Admiral Dewey whereas in later iterations of the spotted horses story he is replaced by his unnamed brother. Associating Admiral Dewey, renowned for his 1898 victory in Manila Bay, with this ten-year old boy, aka "Ad," alludes to the nationwide World War I Marine Corps enlistment posters featuring Dewey (see figures 3, 4).11 Ad's brother is not named "Wallstreet Panic" until The Hamlet. Faulkner calls attention to this name gap in The Hamlet when Ratliff asks Eck about his son's name: "That boy of yours. You changed his name lately, aint you?" to which Eck responds, "No, sir. It wasn't changed. He never had no name to speak of until last year" (981). He then humorously tells Vernon and Ratliff how he derives his son's unusual name: "I.O. [Snopes] read about that one in the paper. He figured if we named him Wallstreet Panic it might make him get rich like the folks that run that Wallstreet panic" (981). This name choice suggests the unsavory Snopes approach to wealth acquisition, though Wallstreet Panic later shortens his name to "Wall" and, like Vernon, chooses a more honorable path to success.

While critics usually focus on his innocence and humorous immunity to the repeated attacks of the spotted horses, Wallstreet Panic's presence suggests negligent parenting and economic mismanagement.12 Within the episode, the Texan seduces the boy with ginger snaps and uses him as a prop to charm local rubes into buying worthless horses. When Wallstreet Panic repeatedly, like a stock runner, runs to the store to buy new boxes of ginger snaps for Buck, the innocent boy is coopted into the Texan's selling scheme. His presence adds credence to the assumption that Buck is an employee of Flem rather than an outsider. This is analogous to someone buying stocks based upon the seller's appearance of propriety. Interestingly, Faulkner indicates the boy has been momentarily corrupted when he mentions the blackening of the boy's hand: "The Texan leaned down and took it and tore the end from it and shook three or four of the cakes into the boy's hand, a hand as small and almost as black as that of a coon" (H 997).

When Wallstreet Panic looks at the horses through the hole in the barn door, it recalls the earlier peephole episode where the men have paid Lump Snopes to watch the lurid "performance" of Ike Snopes and his cow (H 912-13). His innocent voyeurism symbolizes the lack of regulatory oversight of the financial markets. Although Eck and Wallstreet Panic accidently "clothesline" one of the miscreant horses, their absurd attempt to capture the escaped horses indicates a dearth of regulatory enforcement because the other horses continue to terrorize the community. The tiny boy stands in for the lost generation of shellshocked, dipsomaniac veterans who are incapable of properly managing the nation's finances. The speculative mania sweeping America in the late 1920s, like the "spotted corruption of frantic and uncatchable horses," becomes a "contagion passing back through the herd" (H 986, 1032).

In The Hamlet, Faulkner calls attention to Mrs Littlejohn's laundry routine as a means of emphasizing the wash sale initiating the auction. In Every Man a Speculator, Steve Fraser describes the now illegal practice of wash sales, in which securities are sold "at artificial prices without any shares actually changing hands ... [the purpose being] to gull the wider investing public into believing the action was hot when in fact there was no action at all" (45). At the auction, no one initially wants to bid, and Eck recognizes the horses as worthless commodities: "Me buy one of them things? ... When I can go to the river anytime and catch me a snapping turtle or a moccasin for nothing?" (H 99394). However, Buck then creates a bidding frenzy by telling Eck, "I'm going to give you that horse.... Provided you will start the bidding on the next one" (H 1001). The crowd is silent and the next sound is "the clash of Mrs Littlejohn's pail against the rim of the pot" (H 1001).

Faulkner choreographs Mrs Littlejohn's washing routine as a contrapuntal element to the Texan's auctioneering. Mrs Littlejohn appears with her brass dinner bell right before the spotted horses go into a frenzy after being fed a breakfast of shelled corn, which may allude to moonshine or to the shell companies being used to deceive investors about the real value or actual ownership of the cotton. Like the opening bell on Wall Street, the auction begins with Mrs Littlejohn's "first stroke with the dinner bell" (H 995). Faulkner's repeated references to "hips" draws a parallel between Mr Hipps's auctioneering and Mrs Littlejohn's washing. The latter builds a fire under "a blackened washpot set on four bricks in the corner of the yard.... her hands on her hips and the smoke from the fire drifting blue and slow behind her.... 'Come on, boys,' the Texan said. 'Who'll make me a bid?'" (998; emphasis mine). As the day proceeds, like someone on a sinking ship, she "bail[s] water from the pot into the tub" (1000). As the day's auctioneering progresses, "Mrs Littlejohn had been washing for some time now, pumping rhythmically up and down above the wash-board in the sud-foamed tub. She now stood erect again, her soap-raw hands on her hips, looking into the lot" (1002; emphasis mine). As the auction winds down, her "limp garments" hang upon a clothesline analogous to ruined traders on the Western Union wire, who are fruitlessly trying to rally like "the ponies [who] still rushed in purposeless and tireless surges" (1004). After the rout, Mrs Littlejohn returns to her boarding house "carrying an armful of clothes from the line and the wash-board" (1014). When Eck's escaped wall-eyed horse "with a long evil muzzle" breaks in (999), Mrs Littlejohn, like Robin Hood's sidekick, defends her boardinghouse from the intrusion: (13) "'Get out of here, you son of a bitch,' she said. She struck with the wash-board; it divided neatly on the long mad face and the horse whirled and rushed back up the hall" (1014). (14)

When the horses, bound to the Texan's wagon with barbed wire, first arrive in Frenchman's Bend, they are abstracted into a "string of obviously alive objects which in the levelling sun resembled vari-sized and -colored tatters torn at random from large billboards--circus posters ..." (H 983). Quick mockingly asks, "So this here is the Snopes circus, is it?" (991). The Texan becomes a circus performer when he uses his blacksnake whip "about the harlequin rumps in methodical and pistol-like reports" (986). Similarly, he physically outwrestles one of the horses, though another horse, performing like a "trick swordsman" neatly severs his vest (985). The cubistic lens flattens the horse heads into stringed or wired musical instruments, "banjo-faced jackrabbits" (993) and a "fiddle-head horse"(998) to accompany the atonal sounds made by the other horses. The horse's performance is joined by birds whose "cries [are] like strings plucked at random"(1005). The abrupt crescendo occurs when Eck's wall-eyed horse crashes into a "varnished yellow melodeon" making "a single note, almost a chord, in bass, resonant and grave, of deep and sober astonishment" (1013). This bizarre cacophony of sound and spectacle produces a sublime sensory overload.

The dissembled spotted horses become tropes for the market fluctuations in the unraveling financial bubble. The Texan brutally controls this uncontrollable herd, which, like commodities being traded over the Western Union wire, flow in a pulsating wave. So when one, "faster than a boxer," tries to attack Varner "the movement of its surge against the wire ... travel[s] backward among the rest of the band in a wave of thuds and lunges" (H 984). When the Texan cuts them loose from the wire, they are as "a kaleidoscopic maelstrom of long teeth and wild eyes and slashing feet, from which presently the horses began to burst one by one like partridges flushing" (986-87). They become like "dizzy fish in a bowl" signifying the investor's betrayal by a market that is underwater (987).

The next trading day, the Texan temporarily reverses the downward market spiral when he "by unerring instinct" assaults "the point animal ... so that when the break came it was reversed and the entire herd rushed into the long open hallway and brought up against the further wall with a hollow, thunderous sound like that of a collapsing mine-shaft" (993). After the infuriated creatures receive their first taste of shelled corn, they become like numbers on a tickertape run amok: "The horses were whipping back and forth across the lot, as if while in the barn they had once more doubled their number; two of them rushed up quartering" (995). The barn cannot contain the upward price spike and the door disintegrates. However, when the men emulate the tough Texan and try to take possession of their purchases, they face a radically changed business environment because the bubble has popped: "the animals merged and spun in short, huddling rushes, phantom and inextricable" (1012). The horses become "a gaudy vomit of long wild faces and splotched chests" that rushes past the farmers (1012). The downward descent becomes irreversible as the horses reassert their independence and escape through the gate: "the whole inextricable mass crashed among the wagons and eddied and divided about the one in which the woman sat, and rushed on down the lane and into the road, dividing, one half going one way and one half the other" (1013). Ratliff will later call the horses "'that Texas sickness', that spotted corruption of frantic and uncatchable horses" (1032).

Both Noel Polk and John Howell identify Faulkner's "Carcassonne" as the locus for the recurring spotted horses iconography. The multivalent nature of the spotted horse imagery is implied by Polk's discussion of the "'contrapuntal integration'" of "Carcassonne" within These Thirteen, a short story collection about wartime France and Yoknapatawpha (29, 33). Polk interprets it as a dialogue between a man and his skeleton concerning a doomed idealist dreaming about riding the supernatural pony to an unattainable place, like the medieval walled city in Gustave Nadaud's poem "Carcassonne" (31). Polk suggests the dreamer has different physical states, so as to be "'sometimes submerged, sometimes not,' not quite alive, not yet quite dead" (38-39). He refers to this as one of Faulkner's central themes: "[t]he assertion of the dream, the ideal, the will to live, against the inevitable defeat by death and oblivion" (30). Howell links this horse with "betray[al] by a romantic ideal which leads to either a physical or spiritual death" (213). Polk associates this horse with the mythical Pegasus, though he ignores the myth of Bellerophon (31).15 In Biblical and Classical Myths, Northrop Frye describes Bellerophon riding Pegasus to defeat Chimera before he foolishly and futilely seeks immortality by flying toward Mount Olympus (338-39). In the Faulknerian mythos, Thomas Sutpen from Absalom, Absalom! exemplifies this overarching hubris, when, as an impoverished alpha male, he asserts his will to power and transcends class boundaries through his brutal domination of his wild slaves, who hack out his cursed dream plantation, Sutpen's Hundred from the Mississippi jungle.

"Carcassonne" begins: "And me on a buckskin pony with eyes like blue electricity and a mane like tangled fire, galloping up the hill and right off into the high heaven of the world His skeleton lay still. Perhaps it was thinking about this" (895). However, it may be only a dream because the man is described as "beneath an unrolled strip of tarred roofing made of paper" (895). Indeed, Polk identifies the vignette's setting, the port of Rincon, modelled on T.S. Eliot's gashouse in The Waste Land, as "a waste land dominated by the ... monolithic Standard Oil Company, symbol of the mechanized and sterile modern world" (Polk 32). The rider's reality is made moot because the eternal steed is "destinationless" and galloping "toward the blue precipice never gained" (CS 895). If the pony is immortal, the skeleton makes it clear to the dreamer that his death is an inescapable reality because "the end of life is lying still" (899).

Like the electric pony, the spotted horses transform from the farmer's dream into a biblical nightmare--"transmogrified hallucinations of Job and Jezebel"(H 985). Thus the wall-eyed horse dramatically and ethereally departs from Mrs Littlejohn's boardinghouse, hovering off the veranda like a "hobgoblin and floating, in the moon" (H 1014). Similarly, the spotted horses become incorporeal, "without individual shape and without depth--no longer horses, no longer flesh and bone directed by a principle capable of calculated violence, no longer inherent with the capacity to hurt and harm" (H 1010).

Polk sees the reader sympathizing with the dream rider as "a victim of forces beyond his control, a poor and helpless pawn of fate" (41). However, the skeleton undercuts this sympathy:

Like bones of horses cursing the inferior riders who bestrode them, bragging to one another about what they would have done with a first-rate rider up. But somebody always crucified the first-rate riders. And then it's better to be bones knocking together to the spent motion of falling tides in the caverns and the grottoes of the sea. (CS 897)

Polk draws a parallel between this passage and The Waste Land where Phlebas the Phoenician, a sailor and merchant has forgotten about "profit and loss" as he lies in "A current under sea / Picked his bones in whispers" (314-16). Polk equates "the dreamer's bones with the horse," in "Carcassonne," and argues, "[t]he skeleton is convinced his has not been a first-rate rider but rather an inferior one" (41). The skeleton is cynical because of "the dreamer's incompetence, his inability to control and guide the skeleton through the various vicissitudes of the real world; it has, now, nothing to brag to the other horses about, no pride to take in his rider." Polk suggests the dreamer is afraid to take the risk of being a first-rate rider, who is crucified and has, instead, become a manifestation of Eliot's Prufrock, who "is very much afraid of life" and who removed himself from life (41). When Howell compares "Carcassonne" with the spotted horses episode, he offers a more sympathetic reading than Polk because he finds "an element of despair in the peasants' willingness to spend money they cannot afford to buy horses they cannot ride ... they are, like Prufrock, romantic idealists, willing to embrace illusion because it takes their minds off reality" (218).

Faulkner's novels express schadenfreude toward greedy, hubristic fools but disdain for those injuring superior individuals and innocent members of the community. Will Varner cynically sees the positive side of the farmers chasing their purchases all over Frenchman's Bend: "They'll get the money back in exercise and relaxation" (H 1018). The grotesque Henry Armstid almost begs to be cheated. He arrives in a rickety wagon held together by "baling wire" and yet, in a "dreamlike fury," he dismisses his distraught wife, who pleads with the Texan: "'Misters,' she said, 'we got chaps in the house that never had shoes last winter. We aint got corn to feed the stock'" (H 1001, 1002, 1003). Indeed, Henry rebukes the disgusted Texan's attempt to refund his five dollars. In the corral, he lacks the equestrian skills even to catch his purchase. Instead he breaks his leg when the horses stampede past the crow-eating buyers.

Flem's evil nature is shown when he keeps the money the Texan tries to return to Armstid's wife, and, instead, pitilessly gives her back a five-cent bag of candy. In an unpublished 1928 typescript of the spotted horses story, entitled "As I Lay Dying," the men consider the folly of Henry, whom I.O. Snopes calls "a bawn fool," saying, "I haint no patience with a fool." Suratt (Ratliff's original name) responds, "If a man gits trimmed in a swap or a buy, it's his own fault. But a feller that'd take that woman's money is a pretty pore kind of a feller. I reckon that was ever' cent they had, that five dollars" (379). There is also a recognition of the threat posed to the community: "'Who can stand between a fool and his folly?' my uncle said. 'That's right,' one said. He spat into the dust. 'Trouble is, 'taint never the fool hisself that the folly hurts'" (382). This degeneration in laissez-faire capitalism is the difference in degree between the paternalistic Redeemer Will Varner and the neoliberal redneck Flem. Varner, despite his deficiencies, remains a part of the community whereas Flem takes the community's money and moves to Jefferson. Faulkner presents a society where no one is immune to Flem's predation: alpha males like Buck get cleaned out, as well as astute insiders like Ratliff.

While unsympathetic to rubes, Faulkner seems to admire men who can control these spotted terrors. Jewel and Buck illustrate some of the heroic qualities of the "first-rate riders." They are not the first-rate riders Polk identifies in "Carcassonne" with Jesus Christ, Agamemnon, and Hamlet (41). But Frenchman's Bend is not Troy but the Inferno. Buck is a scoundrel, though Greek heroism exudes from his brave risk-taking and ability to transport the herd from Texas to Mississippi. In Father Abraham, he unhesitantly jumps into the herd of spotted ponies: "[w]ith his quenchless faith in his invulnerability [he] rushed without haste among them and efficiently cut out the wall-eyed one and drove it into the fence corner" (39). Nevertheless, the Texan is symbolically emasculated and deflated when the impotent Flem offers him a buggy with "glittering wheels" and a "fringed parasol top" (H 1009). The Texan protests he cannot go home in such a contraption because he "wouldn't get past the first Texas saloon without starting the vigilance committee" (1009). Similarly, the Texan's sweet tooth for ginger snaps suggests his childlike vulnerability at the hands of Flem, who prepares the coup de grace when he demands a ride to Varner's store. Freeman notes, "He'll be lighter when he gets there"; Bookman adds, "His pockets wont rattle" (1010).

More sympathetically, Jewel undergoes medieval trial by water and fire when he twice rescues Addie's coffin, yet Anse exploits Jewel's love for his mother and his willingness to sacrifice in order to sell Jewel's horse to Snopes. When Jewel deceives his family and steals their labor to buy the horse from Quick, Anse indignantly says, "A durn spotted critter wilder than a cattymount. A deliberate flouting of her and of me" (AILD 104). However, he redeems himself when he rescues her coffin. By contrast, Anse opportunistically sees the journey to Jefferson as a chance to get a new set of teeth. Asked about Anse's sale of the horse, Faulkner says, "That this man who loved nothing but that horse would never have believed that he would have sacrificed that horse for anything, yet when the crisis came he did behave better than he thought he would behave. He sacrificed the only thing he loved for someone else's good" (FU 109). Ironically, Jewel makes the return journey to Frenchman's Bend in the wagon eating bananas with the rest of the family. He is unmounted and castrated in terms of his economic and sexual mobility. Like Buck, Jewel's heroic achievements are subverted by the mock epic.

Despite the setting, Faulkner navigates his inferno with a black humor that deftly undercuts all normative standards. In the farcically biased and unfair courtroom scene, where Flem's evasion of justice seems a foregone conclusion, the formerly clean-shaven Vernon, whose face has been scarred by his encounter with the wall-eyed horse, is presented in such absolute essentialist terms as to become an ironic jab at community values. Recalling Mrs Littlejohn's washing, there is a phobic quality to the association among whiteness, cleanliness, and class, which fuels ideologically based racial concerns about appearances of propriety and anxieties about being blackened. Vernon wears an "absolutely clean shirt" and "immaculately washed overalls," which suggest "the short pants of a small boy, and the sedate and innocent blue of his eyes above the month-old cornsilk beard which conceal[s] most of his abraded face" (H 1033). His description seems to recall young Wallstreet Panic. Faulkner describes his beard as giving him: "an air of incredible and paradoxical dissoluteness, not as though at last and without warning he had appeared in the sight of his fellowmen in his true character, but as if an old Italian portrait of a child saint had been defaced by a vicious and idle boy" (H 1033). Beyond the superficial appearance of propriety and rectitude, it seems an oxymoron to speak of saints in the Inferno, and one wonders what Faulkner really means about Tull's "true character." Vernon's shrewd informed insider conversations with Ratliff and Bookwright about the Snopeses does not suggest Christlike victimization. Similarly, despite his altruistic willingness to help the Bundrens, his assessment of Anse reflects his cynical realism: "I'd believe him about something he couldn't expect to make anything off of me by not telling" (AILD 23).

Vernon's violent repulsion of Eck's runaway spotted pony on the creek bridge reflects his paradoxical nature. When the wall-eyed horse mindlessly charges between his mule team, Vernon acts heroically with the same type of fearless bravery shown by Mrs Littlejohn: "Tull shouted at it and struck at its face with his whip" and subsequently, "Tull stood up in the wagon and kicked at its face" (1015). Unlike Ratliff, who jumps out the boardinghouse window, the supposedly henpecked Tull stays and fights to protect his defenseless family. Nevertheless, he loses his mule team and wagon and cannot work for a week during planting season. Vernon's contradictions are shown in the simile, the mature Vernon draw of Cora being "like a jar of milk," he concludes "you would rather have milk that will sour than to have milk that wont, because you are a man" (AILD 139). These thoughts reflect the mature man's acceptance of his life as he existentially looks past the swollen river's wreaked havoc and sees the land that he has sweated to build and maintain.

If the spotted horses episode occurs inside a financial panic, As I Lay Dying reflects the terrible cost of returning to stasis. In "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, Part One," Ezra Pound's revulsion toward post-World War I society corresponds to Faulkner's condescension of Anse's tainted triumph as patriarch and, symbolically, the country's tentative economic recovery. Pound writes:
   There died a myriad,
   And of the best, among them,
   For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
   For a botched civilization (V: 1-4)


Vernon questions the Bundrens' journey to bury Addie, when he observes: "They would risk the fire and the earth and the water and all just to eat a sack of bananas" (AILD 140). As the Bundrens edge closer to Jefferson, the signposts of mechanization and modernity, such as cars and electric lights appear. While the Bundrens fulfill their quest to bury Addie in Jefferson, the family, like Depression-Era America, is fundamentally altered by its traumatic journey, and the downward trajectory of the antiquated mule-driven economy leaves little margin for recovery.

In the burning barn scene, the traumatized World War I veteran Darl famously describes Addie's coffin, resting on sawhorses, as a "cubistic bug" (219). However, the river brings birth as well as death and becomes a source of renewal or redemption, albeit in a stunted form. Addie scares the deeply religious Cora with her unworldly sacrilegious prescience that Jewel will be her savior and rescue her: "He is my cross and he will be my salvation. He will save me from the water and from the fire. Even though I have laid down my life, he will save me" (168). If Addie Bundrens corpse symbolizes the mythical dead Medusa, then Jewel and his horse symbolize Pegasus as he ascends from the dead Medusa. Takako Tanaka, in "Medusa, a Poet, and a Horse," notes the rich symbolism of the Medusa, who "represents the Other as well as sex and death." Additionally, the Medusa exudes a "demoniac energy" and "chaotic power" leading to descent. By contrast, the Dionysus, as the Pegasus, represents this same irrational energy and power on the ascent (Tanaka). After Jewel recovers Addie's coffin from the river, Addie's famous monologue, analogous to Agamemnon's speech to Odysseus, allows the dead to speak. Of course, Addie's symbolic rebirth is anticlimactic because, like Anse's new artificial teeth, the new Mrs Bundren, with her mechanical graphophone is an inferior reproduction.

Howell notes how the wave-ponies in Faulkner's Marble Faun allow the faun to temporarily transcend its frozen state (214-16). Faulkner later uses this imagery of wave-ponies when he equates the spotted horse with "hell, water, and fish" (217-18). This contextualizes Vardaman's assertion, "my mother is a fish," and Darl's assertion, "Jewel's mother is a horse" (AILD 101). When Vardaman lands the big fish, it epitomizes the illusory prosperity of the 1920's. After Addie dies, the traumatized Vardaman fishes in a place bereft of fish. Howell interprets the fish as becoming a "totem" of Addie while the horse becomes her "surrogate" (222). The river itself animates into a horse, as "It clucks and murmurs among the spokes and about the mules' knees, yellow, skummed with flotsam and with thick soiled gouts of foam as though it had sweat, lathering, like a driven horse" (AILD 141-42). Where the spotted horses episode depicts the collective trauma of Frenchman's Bend, As I Lay Dying personalizes the matter into one family's ordeal.

Despite Cash Bundren's warning, the coffin is imbalanced, the Bundrens sabotage his conscientious Zen-like craftsmanship and make a bad situation worse. In this sense, Mississippi's socio-economic culture sabotages and hamstrings any attempt at improvement or reform. Vernon's aesthetic admiration for Cash's handiwork reflects his own personal commitment to seeing society run properly. This imbalanced coffin is a disaster waiting to happen just like the unsteady financial markets teetering as the speculative bubble unwinds. Writing in the immediate aftermath of Black Thursday, Faulkner could not foresee the depth nor the breadth of the unfolding Great Depression; however, he does anticipate the transformation of rural Mississippi by its increasing integration into modern mechanized society. Based on history, Faulkner could reasonably presume the Wall Street Crash of 1929 would be a brief painful interlude. Lacking the benefit of hindsight, Faulkner uses Cash's tools as a trope for the presumed recovery of the Bundrens and symbolically the United States: recovery in Mississippi used in the ironic sense of a return to the usual brutish state of affairs.

The anticipation of rebuilding explains Darl's elaborate description of Vernon and Jewel recovering Cash's tools from the demonically animated river. As a carpenter, Cash produces the hard cash that will allow the Bundrens to recover from the financial costs of burying Addie in Jefferson; however, the gray and unconscious carpenter must recover from his broken leg. Since replacing his tools would be a great financial hardship for the Bundrens, great care is taken to recover them. Cash gradually revives when his precious tools are returned, but he has been incapacitated, and it will be many months before he may initiate the rebuilding process. His crippled recovery is analogous to the American financial system struggling to recuperate from its speculative hangover.

When the middle-aged Vernon plunges "shoulder-deep in the river," his gesture is like the old guard of bankers trying unsuccessfully to restore the financial system to stasis in the aftermath of margin induced panic selling (AILD 157). Darl marvels how he could not imagine "that water in July could be so cold. It is like hands molding and prodding at the very bones" (158). While Jewel's terrified mount survives the treacherous river, the image of stampeding wave-ponies has been replaced by the image of one of Lon Quick's "spotted shoats," which is "blowed up like a balloon" (155). The greediest speculators, like pigs drown, but the river's cascading torrent of logs signifies the huge loss of assets that accompanies their debacle. Comparable to the beaten bulls on Wall Street, Anse, "like a failing steer" watches the scene unfold from the safety of the riverbank (161).

The tall Vernon stands "eye to eye" with Jewel when the two men search in the river for Cash's tools. If the financial system is seen as underwater, then Vernon and Jewel's recovery of these tools metaphorically squares accounts with the defaulters and reestablishes the rules of financial propriety. While it is unclear whether each of Cash's tool has a symbolic purpose, the OED suggests that "hammer," "square," and "chalk-line" each have alternative connotations. In stock exchange slang, "hammer" refers to beating down a stock price or declaring a person in default. Similarly, "square" refers to settling a debt and a "chalk line" refers to "behav[ing] with propriety" and "keep[ing] undeviatingly to a course of action." Since "float" refers to getting a company "afloat or fully started," the argument between Vernon and Jewel over how far Cash's saw has floated from the wagon reflects the individualistic Jewel's unwillingness to heed advice or act collectively. Vernon's "bluish" mouth suggests the intervention of the blue bloods ("[h]e has the rule") while Jewel's blue chalk line may allude to the blue-chip stocks that need to be reflated (AILD 159).

Faulkner concludes this scene by portraying the two men harmoniously working together, like a well-oiled machine searching for Cash's saw-set: "the two torsos moving with infinitesimal and ludicrous care upon the surface. It looks peaceful, like machinery does after you have watched it and listened to it for a long time" (AILD 163). As Barbara Cass notes in "The Right Tools for the Job," the saw-set adjusts the saw's teeth when they become "dull and bent." This missing saw-set ensures the saw makes the precise cuts necessary to refloat the economy. Faulkner does not explain whether the two men recover the last of Cash's seven missing tools, but Cass finds it fitting that the matter is left unresolved. The Bundrens will experience the further tribulation of fire after surviving the river, and this ongoing economic incertitude will bedevil Wall Street, whose initial anemic recovery dissipates in 1930.

The South, which never economically recovers from the Civil War, experienced privation before 1929. Besides the long-term impact of depressed cotton prices, Faulkner alludes to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 when he describes the Bundrens attempt to cross the flooded Yoknapatawpha River. Susan Parrish, in "Faulkner and the Outer Weather of 1927," notes how historically the Mississippi River periodically overflows its banks and plants new fertile soil on its ever-changing banks (38-39). While the 1927 flood is a natural catastrophe, its severity is a predictable byproduct of the same levee system that makes the Yazoo-Delta cotton planters incredibly wealthy. While the levees greatly expand the area of cotton cultivation, John Barry, in Rising Tide, faults the government for neglecting other forms of flood control technology (95-106). Barry argues the height of levees makes the 1927 crisis much worse (158-68). The economic and social devastation of this flood brings a foretaste of the Great Depression to the entire region. (16)

When the men from Frenchman's Bend gather for Addie's funeral, Peabody addresses one of the farmer's anxieties about losing his cotton and corn crops, by agreeing how often their crops get "[w]ashed clean outen the ground" (AILD 90). Another man, perhaps Uncle Billie Varner cynically adds: "Course it does. That's why it's worth anything. If nothing didn't happen and everybody made a big crop, do you reckon it would be worth the raising?" (90). This statement reflects the farmer's fatalistic economic outlook that there must be winners and losers in order for them to profit. It also echoes Jason's diatribe alluding to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, where he thinks about cotton futures going up because "the whole damn delta about to be flooded again and the cotton washed right out of the ground like it was last year" (SF 234). When one man wistfully expresses the wish that he could control the rain, others present retort that only God controls the weather (AILD 91). Strangely, while Vernon and the Bundren boys separately mention the levees in As I Lay Dying, they draw no connection to the impact of human involvement. However, Barry notes that during the Great Mississippi Flood, armed men walk along the tops of the levees looking "for weak points" and "dynamiters" trying to destroy the levee because if the levee on one side of the river is breached, "those on the opposite bank are suddenly safe" (161).

Flem's commodification of the spotted horses, like the dubious financial trading ushering in the Great Depression, signifies a mindless speculative stampede that overwhelms the equine dialectic's tenuous traditional balance between thankless farming and chivalric dreaming. If postbellum Mississippi operates under the economic and social stratification arising from the original sin of slavery, the New South of the Snopes eliminates all the restraints previously imposed by aristocratic noblesse oblige.

If redemption exists in Faulkner's later fiction, the hill farmers are notably absent. When Williamson describes saviors capable of bringing redemption to their community and, implicitly, the South, he names moral figures including businessmen, Ratliff and Wallstreet Panic. However, these figures exist within a thoroughly Snopesian urban context. Where As I Lay Dying conveys a belief in cyclical destruction and renewal, The Hamlet conveys only defeat. Faulkner writes the epitaph of the hill farmers using the anonymous farmer whose barn is robbed by Ike. Unlike Anse, the farmer, adheres to "the ancient Biblical edict ... that man must sweat or have not" (908). Starting from nothing, he doggedly transforms a "barren scrap of hill land" and "work[s] [the land] to the point of mute and unflagging mutual hatred and resistance" (908). The land cannot "leave him and so far had not been able to eject him" (908). But all of his children have fled the hardscrabble life of this "small neat farm" (908). The farmer stoically assumes he will battle his land until he dies and the land proclaims its "final victory marked by a cenotaph of coiling buzzards on the sky" (909). By contrast, the entrepreneurial Vernon with his side ventures and mortgage-free riverside farm, seems inherently qualified to make the transition to the new Southern economy, but the grotesque Bundrens, despite Anse's cagey survival instincts, seem to be moving downward toward tenancy and, perhaps the Joadian journey along a long uncertain road. The Southern diaspora offers a cautionary tale for today's rapidly vanishing American middle class.

Hunter College

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(1) Joanne Creighton, in William Faulkner's Craft of Revision, describes how Faulkner's spotted horses story evolves from its origin in the urtext Father Abraham, circa 1926-1927, through "at least seven different versions (with six different titles)" before its inclusion in The Hamlet (12). Comparing The Hamlet with earlier short story and manuscript versions demonstrates both the utility and problematical nature of an intertextual analysis (Creighton 18). Confusingly, two typescripts of the spotted horses story carry the title "As I Lay Dying" (35).

(2) I would like to thank Professors Jeff Allred, Sarah Chinn, and Jennifer McMahon, in whose classes this essay was conceived.

(3) In an unpublished introduction to The Sound and the Fury, Faulkner speaks disdainfully of the lingering escapist fantasy of Old Dixie: "a makebelieve region of swords and magnolias and mockingbirds" (qtd. in Cohen and Fowler 279). The spotted horse auction in The Hamlet feeds upon the farmer's dream of being like Sir Walter Scott's chevaliers mounted upon charging stallions. Mark Twain, in Life on the Mississippi, famously blames Ivanhoe for creating the Southern ideology that foments the Civil War:
   There, the genuine and wholesome civilization of the nineteenth
   century is curiously confused and commingled with the Walter Scott
   Middle-Age sham civilization, and so you have practical common
   sense, progressive ideas, and progressive works, mixed up with the
   duel, the inflated speech, and the jejune romanticism of an absurd
   past that is dead, and out of charity ought to be buried (375).


(4) Flannery O'Connor is probably thinking of Vernon Tull's upended wagon as well as Faulkner's writing prowess when she famously writes: "Nobody wants his mule and wagon stalled on the same track the Dixie Limited is roaring down" (45).

(5) In Marxism and Literature, Raymond Williams's culture theory subdivides Antonio Gramsci's concept of "hegemony" into three cultural components: "dominant," "residual," and "emerging." The dominant power structure does not use overt force when it has hegemony because it can effectively dominate through "a complex interlocking of political, social, and cultural forces" (108). Nevertheless, cultural dominance is fluid and never absolute. It requires the dominant culture to constantly evolve and redefine itself because it is competing for hegemony with residual and emerging cultures, which constantly resist, challenge, and battle it for supremacy (108-24). While the "residual" culture represents the past, it remains, whether antagonistically or cooperatively, an active element in the ongoing cultural dialogue (122). Similarly, the "emergent" cultural force offers an "alternative or oppositional" element to the dominant cultural process (124).

(6) Don Doyle euphemistically refers to its eroded gullies of exposed clay and sand as "Mississippi canyons" and "ulcerous lesions" (75, 377). Mitchell speaks of Mississippi's clear-cut forests being a wasteland of tree stumps left by large lumber companies (252).

(7) Doyle points out the mixed topography of Faulkner's Lafayette County running the gamut from fecund alluvial land to hardscrabble hill farms (3). Tull's riverside farm probably falls somewhere in the middle: being presumably easier to till and with better soil than Anse Bundren's hillside farm.

(8) Of course, Faulkner uses Vernon's wife Cora to humorously subvert his vaunted wisdom. Cora justifies her purchase of more expensive chickens by noting how "Mr. Tull himself admits that a good breed of cows or hogs pays in the long run" (AILD 7). However, Addie Bundren bakes better cakes than Cora, who cannot sell the cakes she made with those premium chicken eggs.

(9) The physical debilities of Faulkner's grotesques hint at the trauma of being poor in Mississippi. Anse has a range of deformities including a hump, bad teeth, and "badly splayed" feet (AILD 11). Similarly, the diminutive murderer Mink Snopes's poor sharecropper diet of "coarse fatback," "cheap molasses," and "weevilly flour" suggests pellagra (M 349).

(10) Faulkner cheapens the Texan when he substitutes a pearl-handled revolver for the ivory-handled originally found in "Spotted Horses." In the movie Patton, General Patton is asked by a reporter about his "pearl-handled revolvers." He angrily responds, "They're ivory. Only a pimp from a cheap New Orleans whorehouse would carry a pearl-handled pistol."

(11) The spotted horses' barbed wire necklaces suggests the barbed wire in the no man's land outside of the trenches. Indeed, one horse performs a suicidal charge against the wire (FA 26).

(12) For example, Richard Cross, in "The Humor of The Hamlet" calls the boy "a comic symbol of invulnerable innocence" (212).

(13) The degenerate Wall Street allusion is luridly reinforced by the "scarred neck" of the "wall-eyed" horse, which conveys the added allusion to "Scarface" Al Capone (H 1001).

(14) Faulkner's use of clothing imagery calls attention to King Cotton's snow white prominence in Mississippi. Henry Armstid's wife has "washed gray" eyes, which are "faded too like the dress and the sunbonnet" (H 1003). Similarly, the horses are repeatedly described as "calico," or "calico-coated" (983, 987). One has a head "shaped like an ironing-board" (985) while another has "three stocking feet" (998).

(15) Pegasus appears with an unidentified rider on the Fall 1998 cover of volume 14, issue 1 of The Faulkner Journal.

(16) The grim official statistics lists 145 levee breaks, 26,000 square miles of flooding, $400 million of property damage, and 246 deaths (Hornbeck 966). However, Parrish disputes these official numbers and estimates one thousand were killed in the Delta area alone with at least $1 billion dollars in damages (40).

Caption: Fig. 1. Jethro Tull's horse-drawn seed drill designs. Horse-Hoeing Husbandry, Plate 4.

Caption: Fig. 2. Jethro Tull's Horse-Drawn Hoe Designs with Four-Coulter plow (top). Horse-Hoeing Husbandry, Plate 1.

Caption: Fig. 3. "He did his duty--will you? U.S. Marines--join for active service land and sea // PW," US Marine Corps poster featuring Admiral Dewey, Library of Congress, 1914-18.

Caption: Fig. 4. "HE DID HIS DUTY WILL YOU?," US Marine Corps poster featuring Admiral Dewey, Truman State University, 1914-1918.
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