William Faulkner

Though Faulkner (1897-1962) never became an expatriate as Hemingway did, he nevertheless returned home as an outsider. He tells his own story most directly in Sartoris. When young Bayard Sartoris comes back to the Mississippi town he had left when he went to war, he is desperate to know what to do. He knows that something inside him is wrong, but he is not really sure either of the disease or its cure. He wanders around the town and the surrounding countryside, talking with people, sometimes quarreling with them. He drinks liquor the more eagerly because the nation has passed the Prohibition law and alcohol is now illegal. The liquor, however, gives him only temporary forgetfulness. The desperation is still there.

In later works Faulkner put into his novels some of the most memorable African-American to appear in American literature. Although they are usually shown from a Southern point of view, Faulkner is perfectly aware that African-Americans are human beings like himself, but ones who have suffered much because of the color of their skin. He treats them more sympathetically in his books than he treats the poor whites, whom he sometimes shows in a very unfavorable light. The worst whites in his work, created as the members of a family named Snopes, are almost inhuman in their evil energy. He had not yet created them when he wrote Sartoris. They appear in some of his later novels, where they crowd out people like the Sartorises, the futile aristocrats. Hub and Mitch in Sartoris, however, are decent men; nothing like the clan of Snopes.