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The Old People by William Faulkner

The story entitled “The Old People” was originally part of Faulkner’s “Go Down, Moses” written in 1942. “Go Down, Moses” was a collection of tales weaved together to seem like a novel. All of the stories take place in Faulkner’s fictitious Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi.

This was a rite of passage story of a twelve-year-old boy named Isaac. The rite takes place on a deer hunt among his elders, including a Native American-Negro man named Sam Fathers.

Sam seemed to be Isaac’s strongest link to learning about the natural world.
It was Sam and Sam’s closest companions who taught Isaac how to hunt.

I liked the melting pot that fondly reveals the complexities of the South.

I didn’t like the extremely long sentences that are very typical of Faulkner’s fiction. Many of the paragraphs were composed of only two or three sentences separated by a coma, a colon, a semi colon and back to a coma, again and repeated the pattern all over again. These paragraphs would regularly take up the entire page.

It was difficult to remain focused on the story. I found myself going back to reread through the long sentences because I lost the path of the story. It was very confusing at times.

I felt like I was sitting in a waiting room at a train station with on old blind man who wore a white suit and bright bowtie, who decided to speak without provocation. He chattered away aimlessly about people and places unknown, with lots of excessive information. I decided, out of politeness, to wander around in my daydreams. When I returned from my own fantasies of pirating and possible space travel, the old gentleman was still talking.

Then it occurred to me that this narrative was a reflection of the Old Southern personality and a stereotypical one, too. Grandparents chatted together in gossip and nonsense to tell the histories of their regions and neighbors.

This was the space where legends and tall-tales were born.

Southerners are no longer this long winded. That doesn’t mean they don’t talk because they do. They are just more to the point than in Faulkner’s day.

The story was a very good story but the reader must be prepared to go over the hills, through the woods, under the bridge, around the bend and across the city park to read it.

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