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"The Faithful Gravedigger": The Role of "Innocent" Wash Jones and the Invisible "White Trash" in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

"The Faithful Gravedigger": The Role of "Innocent" Wash Jones and the Invisible "White Trash" in... by John Rodden "They mought have killed us but they aint whupped us yit air they?" -- Wash Jones in Absalom, Absalom! Although his appearance in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! spans, strictly speaking, no more than a dozen pages, Wash Jones is a pivotal character whose actions have farreaching impact upon the out come of the Sutpen story and whose plight, along with that of his grand daughter, Milly, extends beyond an individual tragedy to reveal the delu sions and helplessness of the "poor white trash" in the Civil War South. After Rosa Coldfield has rebuked his crude proposition, it is to the Jones family, specifically to Milly, that Thomas Sutpen turns in a last des perate attempt to accomplish his "design" for a dynasty with a male heir. Sutpen's dynastic failure becomes cruelly definitive and attains horrific dimensions when Wash murders Sutpen and then proceeds, in a rampage borne of inconsolable humiliation and despair, to cut the throats of both his granddaughter and her outofwedlock child (by Sutpen) immedi ately after the infant's birth. Rosa and Jason Compson relate the incident at different times, yet the person whose veracity we are actually called upon to trust is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

"The Faithful Gravedigger": The Role of "Innocent" Wash Jones and the Invisible "White Trash" in Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 43 (1) – Mar 16, 2010

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of North Carolina Press
ISSN
1534-1461
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Abstract

by John Rodden "They mought have killed us but they aint whupped us yit air they?" -- Wash Jones in Absalom, Absalom! Although his appearance in William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! spans, strictly speaking, no more than a dozen pages, Wash Jones is a pivotal character whose actions have farreaching impact upon the out come of the Sutpen story and whose plight, along with that of his grand daughter, Milly, extends beyond an individual tragedy to reveal the delu sions and helplessness of the "poor white trash" in the Civil War South. After Rosa Coldfield has rebuked his crude proposition, it is to the Jones family, specifically to Milly, that Thomas Sutpen turns in a last des perate attempt to accomplish his "design" for a dynasty with a male heir. Sutpen's dynastic failure becomes cruelly definitive and attains horrific dimensions when Wash murders Sutpen and then proceeds, in a rampage borne of inconsolable humiliation and despair, to cut the throats of both his granddaughter and her outofwedlock child (by Sutpen) immedi ately after the infant's birth. Rosa and Jason Compson relate the incident at different times, yet the person whose veracity we are actually called upon to trust is

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Mar 16, 2010

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