Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Shellmound. Name of both the cotton plantation owned by the Delta Fairchilds and the sprawling plantation home that is the center of communal life for dispersed Fairchilds, such as George and Laura, as well as for Shellmound residents. The plantation is so large that little Laura repeatedly asks, “Is this still Shellmound?” Its fields have names, like Mound Field (with the remains of Indian mounds), East Field, Far Field, the Deadening (where the first Fairchilds to settle the land cleared away the trees). The house at Shellmound is home to Battle and Ellen’s ever-growing brood, a house of numberless rooms sufficient to shelter Battle and Ellen’s nine, along with young dependents like the handicapped Maureen and the motherless Laura and old dependents like Battle’s eccentric Aunt Mac and mad Aunt Shannon.
Marmion. Empty since its completion in 1890, Marmion lies beyond the bustling life of Shellmound literally and figuratively. Although near Shellmound in distance, it is physically removed because it is on the far side of the Yazoo River, so that one must follow the river to the bridge at the town of Fairchilds in order to reach it. It is part of the Fairchilds’ family mythology, the house built by Battle’s father just before he was killed in a duel of honor, the house from which George and his orphaned siblings left to be raised by aunts at the Grove. Now Marmion will become home to Dabney and her new husband Troy Flavin, the Fairchilds’ overseer. This house so removed from Shellmound symbolizes the exile that Dabney chooses when she marries beneath her.
Grove. Fairchilds’ former home, now home to Battle’s unmarried sisters Jim Allen and Primrose. Close enough to Shellmound to accommodate visits to and fro, the quiet Grove was once what busy Shellmound is now.
*Memphis. Tennessee city located at the northern tip of Mississippi’s Delta, Memphis is the cosmopolitan city of the story. When shepherds’ crooks and wedding cakes are needed for Dabney’s wedding, it is to Memphis that the Fairchilds look. When the family’s beloved George marries beneath him and leaves the Delta, it is to Memphis he moves, although it can never be home to him. To leave the Delta is to leave not just a region but a way of life, and Memphis symbolizes this life in exile.
*Jackson. Mississippi’s capital city, Jackson, is Laura’s home, located roughly fifty miles southeast of the Delta’s southern edge. In spite of the fact that Jackson was the author’s own well-known and well-loved home by choice for nearly all her life, Jackson is portrayed here as a faceless void into which the now-dead Annie Laurie dropped and out of which her young daughter Laura is to be plucked and given identity at Shellmound. Laura herself recognizes that although Jackson is a big town of 25,000 and Fairchilds nothing more than a handful of buildings in the middle of nowhere, she is the one who feels like the country cousin.
Fairchilds. Mississippi hometown of the Fairchild family is aptly named, being little more than a cotton gin owned by the Fairchild family, a store owned by the Fairchild family, a church and its adjacent cemetery where Fairchilds are buried. Located near Shellmound on the banks of the Yazoo River, Fairchilds is the site of the only nearby bridge crossing the Yazoo River, which separates Shellmound from Marmion.
Brunswicktown. African American community near Shellmound, home to field workers and house servants who move around the central story like an outer wheel. In the face of criticism for her portrayals of persons of color, Eudora Welty’s response was that her role as a writer was to hold up a mirror of the time and place, to reflect what was in order for readers to make judgments. If so, Brunswicktown is such a mirror. Often visited but poorly known by the younger Fairchilds, Brunswicktown’s inhabitants live lives in striking contrast to the Fairchilds’.