Places: The Mansion

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1959

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Social realism

Time of work: 1908-1948

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places DiscussedMansion

Mansion. Mansion, TheAntebellum Mississippi mansion that is the residence of Flem Snopes and later his daughter Linda. The mansion is the overarching symbol of the novel. Gaudy and materialistic and furnished tastelessly with objects imported from New York and Europe, the oversized, conspicuous, and centrally located house exhibits the best that poor white trash can do in the Old South (and, this, by hiring what would later be called “home decorators”). Snopes can buy the semblances and symbols of power and respectability and he can move within the town’s upper social echelons, but he can never be the real thing. Appropriately, Snopes’s murder occurs here to indicate that he can never be fully assimilated into the community.


*Jefferson. Northern Mississippi town that is home to descendants of the old Southern aristocrats who come to blend indistinguishably with the poor white trash (primarily the Snopes family), who move in and gradually take over the town. The population of Jefferson comes to be an amalgam of illiterate sharecroppers transplanted from the countryside and the last remnants of the old European highbrows. As such, William Faulkner intends the town to be typical and normal and therefore representative of all such towns in the American South in the first half of the twentieth century.

Frenchman’s Bend

Frenchman’s Bend. Village that is the source and wellspring of the Snopes family. Also the setting for Faulkner’s The Hamlet (1940), Frenchman’s Bend is important here because it is near the farms owned by Mink Snopes and the man he murders, Jack Houston. Moreover, Will Varner conducts magistrate’s court here and finds against Mink in a legal matter. Though not a town, Frenchman’s Bend is important as the place where most Snopes family members originate.


Parchman. Fictional name of the Mississippi state penitentiary, in which Mink Snopes spends thirty-eight years of his life as punishment for the murder of Jack Houston. It is here that he plans with great deliberation the vengeful murder of his cousin Flem Snopes. When the prison is visited by Gavin Stevens and Linda Snopes, it provides a backdrop for showing that the superficially moral of the community (Linda Snopes representing purity and the lawyer Stevens representing justice) are truly collaborating with each other.


*Memphis. Tennessee city that serves as the cosmopolitan cultural center of the region that encompasses northern Mississippi. From Frenchman’s Bend and Jefferson the Snopeses and the upper classes alike go to Memphis to relax, shop, and conduct other matters of business. Of primary importance in The Mansion is Madame Reba’s brothel, visited not only by members of the Snopes clan but also by men from the upper class of Jefferson. It is here that Madame Reba herself first pronounces what is commonly considered the most important theme of the novel: “Mankind. The poor sons of bitches.” In this novel about morality and justice, it is fitting that a whorehouse provides the setting for its most important point.

BibliographyGwynn, Frederick L., and Joseph L. Blotner, eds. Faulkner in the University: Class Conference at University of Virginia, 1957-1958. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1959. Faulkner’s responses to questions about his work. Index provides easy access to pertinent points in The Mansion and to its key characters. Faulkner discusses his view of the novel and its “people.”Kirk, Robert W., with Marvin Klotz. Faulkner’s People: A Complete Guide and Index to Characters in the Fiction of William Faulkner. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1963. This well-indexed source provides a description of all Faulkner’s characters, with specific reference to pages on which they appear in his works. Faulkner’s many characters are classified and cross-referenced.McHaney, Thomas L. William Faulkner: A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1976. An index of references and cross-references, providing a helpful, annotated source list for research in The Mansion.Millgate, Michael. The Achievement of William Faulkner. New York: Random House, 1966. Millgate presents a compelling view of Mink Snopes, The Mansion’s primary figure, counteracting the view that Gavin is the central figure in the trilogy of which The Mansion is part.Tuck, Dorothy. Apollo Handbook of Faulkner. New York: Crowell, 1964. Draws parallels and distinctions regarding discrepancies between Faulkner’s successively presented characters and events. Pertinent, brief, and thorough.
Categories: Places