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Faulkner and Whiteness$
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Jay Watson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617030208

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617030208.001.0001

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date: 19 September 2018

Moonshine and Magnolias

Moonshine and Magnolias

The Story of Temple Drake and The Birth of a Nation

(p.107) Moonshine and Magnolias
Faulkner and Whiteness

Deborah E. Barker

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter explores the impact of white-trash subject matter on narrative genre in William Faulkner, focusing on the southern rape narrative. In particular, it analyzes Thomas Dixon’s 1905 novel The Clansman and its 1915 adaptation by D. W. Griffith as The Birth of a Nation, as well as Faulkner’s 1931 novel Sanctuary and its film adaptation, The Story of Temple Drake (1933)—all of which draw on sensational elements of the southern rape complex. The chapter shows how Sanctuary and The Story of Temple Drake also complicate and disrupt the categories of race, gender, and region that the myth implies. It looks at how the Sanctuary narratives refashioned both of the crucial figures of the southern rape story—the so-called black beast rapist and his virginal white victim—as racially marked or compromised whites. The chapter argues that this (white) “trashing” of the southern rape narrative reflects Depression-era anxieties about downward class mobility and new configurations of American ethnicity and American womanhood.

Keywords:   southern rape complex, William Faulkner, Thomas Dixon, Clansman, D. W. Griffith, Sanctuary, Temple Drake, race, gender

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