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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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Faulkner in the Luxembourg Gardens

Faulkner in the Luxembourg Gardens

(p.31) Faulkner in the Luxembourg Gardens
Faulkner and Welty and the Southern Literary Tradition

Noel Polk

University Press of Mississippi

In the final scene of his novel Sanctuary, William Faulkner quite unexpectedly drags us to Paris’s fabled Luxembourg Gardens. The scene gives the impression that we are not just in a garden, but in Paris, in the Luxembourg Gardens, for a final opportunity to gaze and wonder at the novel’s oft-looked-at heroine, Temple, who sits by her immobile father, posing indifferently—or posturing—into her miniature makeup mirror. Meanwhile, back in the American South her impotent ravisher, Popeye, awaits his execution. This chapter offers a reading of Sanctuary and argues that what dies in Temple when Popeye dies is what he represents: her ambivalent attitude toward her own sexuality. It suggests that the Luxembourg Gardens is a setting culturally at odds with the rest of the novel’s location in the rural and unsophisticated North Mississippi, and in Memphis, Tennessee. The chapter also examines a number of other specific and evocative references to France that converge in the Luxembourg Gardens.

Keywords:   sexuality, Sanctuary, William Faulkner, Paris, Luxembourg Gardens, South, Mississippi, Memphis, Tennessee, France

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