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"Pantaloon in Black" by William Faulkner

Short Story Seminar
by Courtney Bearrentine on 12 November 2012

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Transcript of "Pantaloon in Black" by William Faulkner

by William Faulkner "Pantaloon in Black" Author's Background extra tidbits:
-first wrote poetry, modeled after many English poets (Robert Burns, for example)
-wrote to support his growing house of 11 dependents (mother, niece, children and wife
-"...winner of the Pulitzer and the Nobel Prize, three parts genius to two parts eccentric and one part deliberate drunk..." -Southern Living Magazine Other Works by William Faulkner -Absalom, Absalom!
As I Lay Dying
Light in August
The Sound and the Fury
“A Rose for Emily” Go Down, Moses précis Faulkner tells the story of Rider, a young black man from Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi who lives on the plantation of Carothers Edmunds Rider is shocked and saddened by his wife’s sudden and unexpected death, and is unable to deal with it in the social environment of the “Old South”. Unable to deal with his grief, Rider turns to self-destructive behaviors. Setting Setting: Yoknapatawpha (YAHkNAHpaTAHfa) County. County seat Jefferson ... Once inhabited, later ceded by the Chickasaw tribe, first settled by Europeans ca. 1811 ... Bounded on the north by the Tallahatchie River, on the south by the Yoknapatawpha River ... Area 2400 square miles Point of View
The POV is Third Person throughout, and limited in the first part to Rider. However, in the scond part, the POV is limited to both the Sheriff and his wife. Characters -Rider: Rider is the protagonist in “Pantaloon in Black”. He is depicted as larger than life in a way that is borderline comedic. Because of the dehumanization that he goes through as a black man, Rider is unable to deal with his emotions in a productive, healthy way.
-Mannie: Rider’s deceased wife. Although she is not present, she and her death are the driving forces in this story.
-Carothers Edmunds: the “local white landowner”; he too is not present. Rider rents his home from Mr. Edmunds and Mr. Edmunds is the only connection “Pantaloon in Black” has with the rest of Go Down, Moses,other than Uncle Lucas who used to live in the cabin
-Nameless Aunt: Rider’s aunt is not named, but she is important because she raised Rider, then called Spoot. She and her husband try to convince Rider to rely on God during his time of grief, but Rider rejects the idea of a God that cares.
Birdsong: cheating dice player; only importance is that it is through him that Rider gets his wish-death
Birdsong: cheating dice player; only importance is that it is through him that Rider gets his wish-death Plot Structure Plot Structure
Narrative Hook: funeral;
Exposition: throughout the first and second part
Rising Action: throughout first part, as Rider becomes more destructive
Climax: When Rider walks in to play dice Turning Point: when he pulls his razor on Birdsong
Falling Action: Relayed through the Sheriff in the 2nd Part
Catastrophe: When Rider is lynched by an unknown group of people (presumably the Birdsong Family
Resolution: Because Rider had died, his inner conflict has been resolved, however the general conflict of white vs. black continues on. What does the title "Pantaloon in Black" even mean? Pantaloon: 1. A character in the commedia dell'arte, portrayed as a foolish old man in tight trousers and slippers. 2. A stock character in modern pantomime, the butt of a clown's jokes
Black: refers to grief/death as well as skin color "Pantaloon in Black" as a Tragedy -Aristotle defined a tragedy as a play in which the hero is brought down by their tragic flaw
-"Pantaloon in Black" can be considered a tragedy; Rider has certain heroic features, and his strength is his tragic flaw. He does not die because of his strength, but rather it is his strenght that creates the conflict of the story "Pantaloon in Black" as a comedy Certain aspects of "Pantaloon in Black" are comedic; for instance, Faulkner's portrayal of Rider as a larger than life, strong man. The use of dialect may seem to some as funny; however Faulkner would not use it to poke fun at black Southerners, but to characterize them correctly Importance of Race Race is very important throughout Go Down, Moses, and "Pantaloon in Black"; both works explore the conflicts between whites and blacks, and the human desire to dominate. In "Pantaloon in Black", Faulkner strives to show that black people are looked down upon by white people as though they do not matter. In fact, the main cause of Rider's inner conflict is that throughout his whole life, all he has been good for in white people's lives was his strength. The dehumanization of Rider results in his inability to deal with the loss of his wife. Symbols Rider mentions starting a fire in a hearth like Old Uncle Lucas. This alludes to the story that comes before "Pantaloon in Black". Uncle Lucas started a fire in his hearth and he and his wife kept it burning throughout their marriage. Rider did the same when he married Mannie, and as long as it kept burning, so would their love and marriage. Sheriff -In the second part, the Sheriff recounts the events of the first part and continues the story
-He is a reflection of white society
-believes that Rider's actions show that he did not love his wife (which is the opposite of the truth)
-His statement "I swear to godfrey..." shows hypocrisy...he uses the euphemism because he is a "Christian" yet he does not love his fellow man as Christians are supposed to Theme In this story, Faulkner explores the themes of masculinity, family, and race and their effects on grief.
No matter how masculine a person is, no matter the family support they have, it is impossible to overcome the horrors of racial inequality and prejudice. Quotes “…(he was better than six feet and weighed better than two hundred pounds)…” (pg 135)
“Then he could stop needing to invent reasons for his breathing, until after a while he began to believe he had forgot about breathing since now he could not hear it himself above the steady thunder of the rolling logs; whereupon as soon as he found himself believing he had forgotten it, he knew that he had not, so that instead of tipping the final log onto the skidway he stood up and cast his cant-hook away as if it were a burnt match and in the dying reverbation of the last log’s rumbling descent the vaulted down between the two slanted tracks of the skid, facing the log which still lay on the truck.”
“Try me, big boy”
“Ah’m snakebit and bound to die” Vocabulary Intermittent
Indiscriminate
Reverberation
Mesmerized
Primal inertia
Cessation
Infinitesimal
Impervious
Choleric
Pantaloon
Reiterate
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