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Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition$
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Noel Polk

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781934110843

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781934110843.001.0001

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How Shreve Gets in to Quentin’s Pants

How Shreve Gets in to Quentin’s Pants

(p.22) How Shreve Gets in to Quentin’s Pants
Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition

Noel Polk

University Press of Mississippi

In William Faulkner’s novel The Sound and the Fury, one of the central characters, Quentin Compson, is accused of molesting his own sister. In one scene, Gerald Bland, his mother, Spoade, Shreve, and two veiled young ladies encounter Quentin in the clutches of the law and an angry brother wants Quentin pilloried. When Shreve hears that Quentin is under arrest, he starts climbing out of Mrs. Bland’s automobile, and Quentin notices that he is wearing “a pair of my flannel trousers, like a glove.” The glove implies how Quentin’s tight flannels mould and magnify Shreve’s genitals and how conscious Quentin is of them. This chapter offers a reading of The Sound and the Fury and its themes of heterosexuality, homosexuality, homoeroticism, heteroeroticism, and the Oedipus complex. It suggests that Shreve’s literally wearing Quentin’s pants is a Faulknerian joke.

Keywords:   pants, William Faulkner, genitals, heterosexuality, homosexuality, homoeroticism, heteroeroticism, Oedipus complex

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