Posted in Short Stories

William Faulkner: Wash

Yet still the gaunt, furious figure came on against the glare and roar of the flames. With the scythe lifted, it bore down upon them, upon the wild glaring eyes of the horses and the swinging glints of gun barrels, without any cry, any sound.

I don’t know which came first: William Faulkner’s short story “Wash” or his novel Absalom! Absalom!. But both are connected. Wash Jones is Thomas Sutpen’s companion for twenty years. Wash lives in an old rundown cabin on what used to be Sutpen’s plantation. Even though Wash is white, Sutpen treats him the way he treats most of his former slaves.

The “culmination” of Wash Jones and Thomas Sutpen’s relationship is a significant plot point in Absalom! Absalom! but as with much of Faulkner’s writing, it can be tricky figuring out exactly what is going on. He doesn’t spell out everything and in some cases he seems to actually hide things.

The horrific aspects of Sutpen’s relationship with Wash and his granddaughter are a little more straightforward in “Wash”. This story makes things a little clearer as Thomas Sutpen’s world collapses in the aftermath of the American Civil War.

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