Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
Jeeter’s inability to produce a reasonable crop from the sandy, depleted soil has left him so heavily in debt that he has turned to sharecropping on what was once his family’s plantation. The soil resists Jeeter’s increasingly weak, though well-intentioned, efforts to grow a sustainable crop. Its infertility mirrors the impotence that gradually overtakes Jeeter and reduces him to little more than a shadow of a man. By the end of the novel, there remains even less of the farm after a fire destroys the old house, leaving only a “tall brick chimney . . . blackened and tomb-like.”
The utter, hopeless poverty so graphically depicted by the Lesters’ plight is representative of the rural squalor and degradation faced by many Americans living at the lowest levels of economic and moral debasement.
*Augusta. Georgia city about fifteen miles from the Lester farm. The Lesters go to Augusta naïvely hoping to sell some firewood. The trip, in a brand-new car purchased by Sister Bessie, the new wife of Jeeter’s sixteen-year-old son Dude, fails to raise any money to buy food or other necessities. They spend the night in a “hotel,” which resembles a brothel or hookers’ hotel, and Sister Bessie, in her ignorance, gets shunted about from room to room, encountering various unknown men waiting in beds. When they all head home the next day, they are none the wiser or richer for having had the experience. Furthermore, the load of wood and the lack of oil in the engine have ruined the new car.
Fuller. Town about five miles from the Lester farm and about fifteen miles from Augusta. It is large enough to have a Ford car dealership, at least one church (Baptist), stores, and a courthouse, where Sister Bessie and Dude Lester obtain their marriage license.
The stores in Fuller had at one time extended credit to Jeeter because he raised a fair cotton crop each year. When his debts increased so much that he had no hope of paying them, his farm was bought by Captain John Harmon. Harmon allowed Jeeter to sharecrop for several unprofitable years but finally gave up, sold out, and moved to Augusta. The stores in Fuller, aware they can no longer expect to be paid, refuse Jeeter credit, thus cutting off his last source of sustenance.
Fuller’s bounty is close and yet completely out of Jeeter’s reach. Just as his wish for a decent crop is ongoing yet unattainable, so Fuller represents the relief that is impossible for Jeeter to obtain.