Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
On the trip to the cemetery, as Milton remembers the past and Peyton, the narration shifts to other settings. In his memories and later in Peyton’s memories, Port Warwick is occasionally a beautiful place. The Loftis house is located on the Chesapeake Bay, surrounded by gardens, cedars, and a beach. Peyton’s mother loves the garden, and Peyton’s disabled sister Maudie enjoys the outdoors and the rain. Images of water, of baptisms in the James River, and of rain in the cemetery contrast with the omnipresent heat. Peyton’s fondest memories are of walks with her father along the Chesapeake Bay toward Hampton, the only “pure moments” in her troubled life. The novel ends by breaking the heat of Port Warwick with a thunderstorm and with the river baptisms. This contrast of heat and water symbolizes both an ending and a beginning, but in this transformation, there is no promise of a better life; there is only the suggestion that opportunities existed and that these opportunities were squandered.
*Charlottesville. City in central Virginia that was the birthplace of Thomas Jefferson and the home of the University of Virginia. Milton graduates from the University of Virginia, and Peyton dates a young man who attends the university. In addition, Maudie is treated at the University of Virginia medical center, so the memories of the characters return them to Charlottesville, where Milton drinks to excess, attends a football game, and carries a Confederate flag. On the same weekend, Peyton drinks excessively at a fraternity party, and Maudie receives treatment at the university’s shoddy medical center. After the football game, Milton becomes so drunk that he finds himself lost in an African American neighborhood, where he falls into an open sewage ditch. In these scenes, the Virginia of Jefferson stands in sharp contrast with the Virginia of the twentieth century. This contrast emphasizes how far these characters have fallen.
*New York City. Great northern city in which Peyton spends her last days. In an attempt to escape her dysfunctional family, Peyton marries New York artist Harry Miller and moves to the city, but in New York, the heat and the family problems continue. Peyton and Harry separate, and Peyton moves in with Anthony, a milkman, and lives in a roach-infested apartment. In August, New York is as hot and uninhabitable as Virginia. The irony is that Peyton does not escape her problems by moving; the same heat continues, and this heat symbolizes her suffering. By shifting the setting to New York, Styron is showing that the dysfunctional family is not uniquely southern. The “lost generations” of modern times are a product of an industrialized society, and the hot oppressive places of this novel ultimately symbolize the inhospitable and dysfunctional environments of modern industrial society.