Group Title: structure and meaning of William Faulkner's A fable
Title: The structure and meaning of William Faulkner's A fable
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 Material Information
Title: The structure and meaning of William Faulkner's A fable
Physical Description: iv, 279 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Pastore, Philip Edward, 1928-
Publication Date: 1969
Copyright Date: 1969
Subject: English thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- English -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis - University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 275-279.
Additional Physical Form: Also available on World Wide Web
General Note: Manuscript copy.
General Note: Vita.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00097772
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000561294
oclc - 13502859
notis - ACY7221


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For my son Philip
who in a sense wrote this

oathe chair-

RI. War-fe

i tical

d to act.

d asm f this project

to me at the pursuit of

,t members of my committee,

SPaul, for giving their

i unlike my own,









BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . A .

4 S f


sh acclaim,

he Nobel

pe a s ere un-

him for the

A able was awarded th ulit r Prize

sidered a

tjp reviewers and many of the in-

ment-tors have since found reasons

No Only di some reject it as art;

angere ch what th saw in it.

of ion n' not curious in

L e s i it

!le f v

consistent that it is trivial, A Fable would pr w

problems. But many who rejected it, regardless of

of their rejection, hate noted the novel's vast scope

wide compass in the process of their analysis. It is

admitted that the novel was among Faulkner's most am i

undertakings, as one dissenting critic called it, "

ly ambitious failure."2 No one has hinted that Faulkner

it to capitalize upon the wider recognition his Nobel 4

afforded him. A Fable was certainly not hastily conceive(

written; it took nearly nine years for Faulkner to com

it. It was perhaps the most carefully planned of all hi!

books; an examination of the wall of his study at Row

corroborates this opinion.

That a great writer may write an occasional

is hardly news; the contention that A Fable is an aberr

gets support from another widely held view regard g the

total Faulkner canon. One tendency, to see Faulkner

chronicler of Yoknapatawpha County, whether his

in general as all part of the loose "saga"

or not, is bolstered by the inrlocking of

acters throughout many of the r, nove n

rules Roo "R
1954) 9.


on ~eriee concerning

e best. This paper will

i s rt .~ atness of the novels

store appeared in that creative span between

ur rude he Dust (1929-1948).

ned will be the other side of this attitude,

h tiat somehow his powers diminished when he

e about events characters outside the

s coun that his int actual grasp was inade-

ess complexities demanding stAtement in substance

ich the Yoknapatawpha setting was not amenable.

A le is among this less currently approved group

is oi be degraded merely for this reason.

on varies widely cancer e '"-rm" of A Feble,

an allego4 or a*thesiU s or a attempt to

ologv. The f tions of the cha cpers are

them pr nations

t pe. ugh

most pervYsive attitude regarding the novel Wit is'

primarily an intellectual failure, ill-conceive nd ill-


Faulkner has been accused of many offenses st

taste and tradition--the less-than-illustrious hi of

early Faulkner criticism in America bears eloquent testimq

to this fact--but only very rarely has he ever Cb ccuse

of carelessness in handling his materials. That Faul

whose proved ability to exercise exquisite control ov

tremely complex literary structures (Absalom, Absal

Sound and the Fury to name only two) could be so blind,

commit so many obvious blunders in one novel without being

sublimely careless, simply seemed absurd. The "agony an

sweat" he admittedly poured into writing A Fable rules o

carelessness as a cause. Also, the very enormni f it

apparent failures, the grand inconsistencies it see

trumpet,according to critics, seemed somehow and

reexamination. The novel simply could not be

opinions would have it--its very power to e

reactions as late as 1962 seemed to work perve

the very criticism which railed against it

opening OSItence of Irvin 's cri



dj ~togehves alto ey c1 e

A Fable has aroused many able comments and only

tempts at an i station. ,ne of the

ators saw a totally unified structure and consequently

he il of the book has not been clarified by them. The

d the decorative symbol of the Cross have led most

o stray into paths which Faulkner really did not

enter. The ovel is not a fable in the technical sense of

hat e form; rather it is a story, probably meant by

the author to be as meaningful as any of Aesop's writings,

ly probably not to be as simple in outline or depth

a for meaning on the level of structure, therefore,

s an r pattern. The reoccurence of the symbol of

a ss se does not necussa''ily relate the events of

t nov Christian story. One of the chronological

throl which the story progresses is indeed Holy week,

b a mite degree does the sequence of ev2et s re-

ts in the J lesus.

ens !6 6 F-T t the

tt Ol
expl n of the e act f on

many seemingly disconnected episodes

wherebCpme consistent meaning could

noticeably distorting the no1. lo one

plained A Fable's structure or the ra l

structure. Two little-known critics ha

and will be considered in Chapter I, but th

ways have only added to the complexity inst

Faulkner wanted to say something ab

and only partially could governmental form

or military organization supply a plot ouC

his purpose. It is quite possible that he fi

losopher Henri Bergson, whose influence

Faulkner's young manhood was imme

which harmonized with the novelist

cept of the elan vital, with it

opposition of intellect and int

and the open society, a stati

forth in The Two Sources of

the basis for sng stru

anadillliW e s1

A Fable to

cs wh im-

ta I read it.

define so Bergson's basic ideas

*ital, d proce rom there to relate

s in A ble', g g with an examination

rojectio of intellect, the closed

-eli^ n, are sym lically extended in the

eal ari with the role of the

e t i. intuitive man

t ana aspon-

11 ture of A





When William Faulkner's A FA]te appe1

ary scene in 1954, the immediate response fr
viewers was intense and various, both in te

pretation of its meaning and worth. This v

is not unique, but what is striking about t

is the utter confusion enghdered in minds tl

sumably attuned to the many complexities 5

Nonetheless, the early reviewers were for t

disappointed or downright hostile, accord'

ment to their various literary or religious

hostile or merely disappointed, the

posed more questions than it ans

story about? Obviously there '

Fable and the Holy Week of Chri

simply Faulkner's retelling of t Pa

dress, or was tio

w all o

Ilig dj i^^^^^^^^ ^H

hardly undehy the brutal-

and sc gical incidents? What was he writing? A

1? An allegory? A pacifist thesis-novel on war? How

d he believe that all of the disparate episodes which

k place could be fused into a consistent whole? And why

e long story about the stealing of the racehorse? Why

ser story published four years earlier1 into this work?

Fable was for the most part condemned from both literary

ad religious viewpoints.

The frustration which A Fable caused to certain book

reviewers is perhaps best summed up by the reaction of one

H.C.G. in America.

S . it is clearly a symbolic novel;
it is just as clearly, save to those
who dare not say boo to geese, a mystery,
a riddle, an enigma, for which a key is
sadly needed. Indeed, after a careful
and laborious reading of 437 pages, I
have begun to suspect that there is no
key, or that if there is one lying
around somewhere, it is hardly worth
the search, for it would at best open
only an empty box.2

SFaulkner, Nofs on a Hoi ef (Greenville,
950). P

It will be the purpose the rest of this

supply one key, with the further hog that the b

unlock will yield a somewhat richer store tha

pects is there. But this early review contain

than a rather fretful admission of confusion.

on to complain about particulars, the remotenes

Lord" of the Corporal, the Marshall's apparent ent

cation with both God and Satan, and the "torrent

From these observations H.C.G. went on to specu e d

those critics who had praised it, noting that

wished down deep in their hearts that they really

it, although obviously no one possibly could. H.C.G.

haps extreme in his naivete, but his reaction

from many of the early critical reviews. AF e e see

serve for many reviewers as an opportunity f

literary ideologies tc burst forth. Bre G s

essentially as a preachy version of t

was a "southern evangelist" who tried

New Testament in "Gothic Rvival."

review by warning all authors that

to leave the GoLt, stories alone.3 V



n s and noted

xpecte of these

is old age to reli s subject

ized A Fable what it

t Ra d Bernard, who

A Fable to nt for his

na ly complicated," with its

e 68, proceeded

hat Led

Some sympathetic critics, such as Maxwell Geismar,

saw A Fable as an important example of a shift in Faulkne

method. Although the book failed, it was an example of

shift "from realism to religious symbolism and mystici

J. Robert Barth read A Fable as an indication of Faulkn

shift forward from the "negative critique" of the Yok

cycle to a more positive attitude toward man. Barth a o of

fered some excellent insights, such as noting the necess

to see the novel's dynamism in terms of a "tension of op

sites." lie also maintained that meaning emerged, not f

the novel's resemblance to the Passion, but from the a

the two major characters represented.10 Unfortunately,

did not carry these insights as far as he might have, bu

is nonetheless almost unique as an early reviewer in his

ing. V. S. Pritchett also saw A Fable as an ind

Faulkner was emerging from "destructive despair to con

affirmation." Pritchett then dubbed A Fable a "fantasy

past dispensation," with Faulkner a poet-his

pose in writing it was to "isolate and free

9 .
axwell Geismar, "Latter-Day Chri
Review of Literature, XXXVII (July 31, 1

RAmrobert B a er

d Testa-

t ob-

able in

feared from sum-

ould suffer most of

has proved Mr.

t his own review, though

cts, is actually an over-

SA Fable.

ed som pful obser- C



sl ead-

ks ha

"intellectual center" in the novel. It is "a

allegory . in a complicated private idiom,"

viewer surrenders up some of his confusion wl n he

that "The reader sometimes has the disconcerting f

standing in the middle of a tragic. n house wi a

trick mirrors focusing on him at once."13 Carlos

a cosmic irony lying at the center of A Fabl n c

that man can refuse to fight, can "cry enough but

constantly refusing to exercise his power, he pert

rejects the very means toward his redemption.14

saw no powerful ironies at all in A Fable. ST ovel

many indicators of meaning" and as a result was "

Pickerel's reading may strike the reader as ironic,

since he maintains that it says man must refuse par

"Man dare not will his own peace or he is turned out

Pickerel offers another startling view. A_ e

he states. God needs the incarnation and crucif

tain His values, just as man needs to sa

1'William Faulkner, After Te
XLIV (August 2, 1954), 49.

(August 1954)

"C ailaug


ues "un-

tai o whom-m wer ut." 16

g that ultima the characters

d all of us are st.1 7 He does not ex-

fusion comes about. Malcolm Cowley saw a

betwe feeling and logic operating structurally

t Il5 did not elaborate sufficiently upon this

t in ght to make it truly helpful as an aid in de-

rmining the novel's meaning. Instead his observation led

see a contradiction in the novel concerning the Cor-

s character.18

CertaiOics approached A Fable from the standpoint

D ton Kohler noted that the novel presented

*tragic vision of man, but it was not of-

istorical or theological interpretation. The

effect of A Fable was to create its own myth and offer

neur Paul Note in Rejoind Re-
Sep er, 4), 45.

hil w ou 1 synllisy which 9

capacity for faith in a world o violence.

linked A Fable to the Arthurian myths of Chr'ti

but ultimately felt it to be a failure because

morality" and therefore out of place in the

tury. Lytle objected to the characterizat"

were "too symbolic," and although he offered so

on structure, seeing certain "trinities" of c

tion operating, Lytle actually was objecting ti

use of symbols.20 Hugh Kenner used myth to rou

Fable, the rest of Faulkner's works, and the u

general. A Fable was the reductiono ad absurdal

"right" way to write a profound novel, owing -

rowed effects" from the Christian myth. Kenne

ly most angry about Faulkner's "tras~y rhel

bivalentattitude toward Christianity as i

in A Fable.21

19Dayton Koh r, e': Th
College English, XVI (May, De
Faulkner's 'A Fable'," Persec es
126-136, comes to a si 1iar
"hope." But hwa
compares the Ive

20And L


F. lo e ca

r all of her's The

n is "4hat is and the answer

Taylor saw the theme ofA Fable as

"he ality of man," one ending where real

,sti and ended by chastising Faulkner. Re-

g obl o the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he

that "You do not lift the heart of man by grinding his

e in rt.22 Amos Wilder, a year after Taylor's

e that )Fabldprovided an example of an earlier

Christianity." 23

n critics focused primarily upon structural

in A Fable. As a result their findings are general-

lan those 4 reacted personally to the

s es of the nov James Hafley noted the

sm e Co oral and thetbhall, but im-

an t nism fo a conflict between the

iian faith and the man of reason. A Fable prese

failure of democracy, the "rational end of the Western

edition and illustrated the necessity to "escape the cr

either through martyrdom or the military.24 A sound

Ursula Brumm, noted that A Fable w constructed ar

slightly different anti-theses. The division betw

meek of the earth and the rapacious but creative ones "w

participate in the works of civilization" forms the ess

tial conflict in the novel. g giss Brumm cites the long

trophe to rapacity by the Quartermaster (pp. 259-260) as

focal point of A Fable, and maintains that this passage,

is a parody of Paul's message on "charity" in I Cori

13:8 ("Charity never faileth"), may be seen as the fi

dictment of civilization and all its works.25 Fau'

equating Christianity with Civilization, has w

that is absolute heresy in Christian terms. or

not the son of God or the
of Christianity, but Christ the
type of man suffering, and of tl
expiate ta9 guilt of civ
renunciation of the power

244Ws 1afley, er
figuration," Accent, XVI inte

2Ursula Brum





e i m one,

key g able.

apostro ivered

e This passage is also

ne arily

ste at the last


mine telling parallel with the Quartermaster's pos o

the novel, since he ends his apostrophe to rapacity

ing that the marshall is to be the saviour of man (p

The idea that the "meek" are uncreative will be

in Chapter 11 when the nature of ttion is discus

lation to the Corporal. Miss Brumm's analysis, se

admirable though it is, presents a partial rather than

truth about A Fable.

Another thoughtful early criticism is Philip Bl

Rice's review. Rice offers provocative and penetration

sights into the novel which unfortunately lead to the us

cul de sac rather than to a unified vision, because h

that vision using the wrong index to meaning. Rice, se

A Fable as the most monumental task Faulkner had yet a

responded to it in like manner. It demands he stars s

prison with such awesomely mentionable names as M

Tolstoy, Dostoevski, and 4ann."27 A able does not

to expectations for Rice, and fails to eve nde

plici-t message, which to him is that mes.

Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Rice be a

the critics cited above, that le fa

ip Bla

h A Fable is4We al biguity

e ents. *s basic am guilty is what

critic m of the novel, and he directs his

theological % er than artistic consider-

on Rice, Faulkner's religious commitment is vague,

o ox, most likely "a non supernaturalistic rendering

the C ristian symbolism" which offers "no theodicy and no

ther'worldly beatitude."28 What shocks Rice is that the

words of the Nobel Prize acceptance speech "Man will prevail"

red by the Marshall instead of the Corporal. To Rice

gnment is a "breathtaking reversal," since the Marshall

Sdin re of evil (Caesar or Satan) according to the

reading oses on the novel. He notes also that the

s entombment in the monument of the unknown soldier,

ut real ory for primitive Christianity, since the

mo umen o glorifies nationalism. Those and other incon-

a the concl I atg thematic

ns o he implicit message of to
qwn AeD

1. The ending is simply a monstrous
irony which posits a defrdat and
possibly repudiates the Christian

2. The New Covenant has actually in-
verted the old, thereby calling for
a Nietzschean transvaluation of
values, exemplified by the duality
of the Marshall's natTre, being
both God and Satan.

3. A statement of Barthian neo-orthodox
which holds that the victory of Christ
over Caesar is strictly out of space-
time, is otherworldly, and therefore
is not historical.29

Rice sadly concludes that none of these solutions fit

novel well. One is inclined to agree witlrhiml

Rice is not insensitive as a critic. His assess

is an intelligent, thoughtful, sympathetic attempt to wr

clarity out of a difficult literary work. His lur

justice to it results from his demand that the wor

more than it can on the terms he says it should fusion

wants a neatly defined, unilinear -xpress of a

theological credo of some sort, couched in

recognizable forms. Further, Rice would do a

the elements which makes A Fable unique in s

attempt to express experience as ambiguous,

unplanned rather than exhibiting any onto


elen el itself,

ious referential coun ers connect-

s to recognizable elements of the Passion

dents of World War I.

g a thoroughgoing, incisive, perceptive

s works, in discussing A Fable is stimu-

and comprehensive. Her commentary yields

sights which are especially helpful in com-

tain internal relationships. Her total view

is unfortunately too limited. She sees the con-

ially in social- tical terms, the pri-

sition being the individual versus the state, each

the other r s ive. The Corporal is

l who seeks freed Mfarshall represents

h seeks to preserve t status quo, thus re-

freedom through its most ive weapon, war. Miss

& nflict occurring three I I. The
& .s two AII:L i 61

Christ-figure who represents faith in Godind m

tan in Church and tradition. The second level prese

as social man rebelling against paternal authority, a

human-moral agent rebelling against society's legal

tures. The third level is demonstrated by the Groo. i

"horsethief episode. Here the conflict is on the leve

the natural man in his quest for physical freedom.

Miss Vickery maintains that Faulkner is squarely

the side of the Corporal and the Groom in A Fable. No

flaw exists in society or man; the flaw exists in

tution that seeks to perpetuate itself through den

and change. The Marshall is a mock savior who argues f,

in the climactic temptation scene with the Corporal,31

to maintain that his conception of man is "real" does

necessarily mean that the Corporal's ccncepti ls fa

Marshall's denial of freedom removes the r necess

choice and human values become perverted. The C

rebellion is a moral act. Rebellion becomes a m al ne

if human values are to be upheld. Miss Vic

Faulkner offers the message of the moral ne

This sc
veni e

i ain


inst orporal

rebelling inst al authority

is ot, as ular t figure,

in his a .orical city Do

relat ips of the characters remain in-

If the Marshall argues falsely in the

if he is a mock-savior, is he not then

a Go o? Or if he is Satan, then is not Satan

f the Corporal-Christ?

ir hat the epis1g f jhe horse

ly the attempt to maintain freedom through

natural, physical levLl is an oversimplifi-

may utter profan les, but certainly the

field relate to a concern more than

edom e obviously ele age of

ncti as a erely


and individualized aspects of existence. Certain claims

that Miss Vickery makes for particular characters are also

not borne out in the total work. For instance, to bo] r

her contention that Faulkner is clearly on the side o

Corporal she notes that the Marshal is associated with

desert, the Corporal with the fruitful land. Actually, the

Marshall is associated with the city more than the desert,

and the Corporal more with the mountains than the plains.

In fact, his "mountain peasant's face" is one of the points

of contrast to the men around him. He is not associated

the fruitful earth until after his death, and then the a s

resurrection occurs.

Nonetheless, *Miss Vickery's reading works well if one

limits it to a purely social-political level. Certainly the

war is a social evil and does not foster individual freedom,

but if one does limit oneself to this level, one must allow

the charges of those critics who maintain that Faulkner's

knowledge of history and war is incredibly naive. On the

natural (personal) level and the allegorical (reli

level, her analysis suffers. A Fable, in short, i

a protest novel. Its ambiguities cannot be resolve

ly as Miss Vickery would have it, nor can on

relationships on one vel while stress

maintain that a s it r


understood in order to get to e esstetial mea

Straumann maintains that Fauler's world view,

sees everything in the universe and man's natu

of a duality, is the primary ordering principle of

All of the elements of the novel, Ocing to this esse

duality, exist in diametric opposition. Each act

opposite; the whole novel is structured around a co

antagonisms existing in tension. War against peac

against passivity, the spiritual against the materi

the desire for freedom against the need for orde

of the many tensions existing in opposition. Charact

express the inherent dualism in Faulkner's world view

Corporal and the Marshall, the Sentry (Groom)and the

and the individual character against the crowd in the

scenes are examples. The many arguments the charact

in express the dualism on the dialectical level.

Faulkner's universe is a Manichean (ne,

mann, although good and evil are not clearly de

inherent dualism lies the necessity for F

view which "rests squarely on the knowledge o

ity of suffering and the conviction

to endure it."33


ifs su nk and

symbolic sign ough repe-

A Fable is an merely a

the real; it i masterwork, an

orm Straumann ter bolic mimesis."

merger of the symbolic and concrete is

"unaboyed realism" of the 1920'.s, 1930's,

ble has its "intellectual magnetic field"

en-*nicheanism, Stoicism, and Christianity,

n again pointing to the inherent, irreconcilable

and nature. Although this irreconcilable dual-

the 9agic world view of the novel, this

allow for real despair because of the fact of

Straumann ha s his whole idea

does not it despair.

s pciselumWe one e
e that Faulkner does
n by a contrast t ow
En nce i
u t r qen
f b

ButWis is not exactly the cS in A e. The s

does posit an alternative in the ndy

when he replies to the Corporal's statement that an

his folly will endure.

"They will do more," the old general sai pr
"They will prevail." (p.0t4)

Although endurance and prevailing are not exact

category, within the context of the work they are see

relationship of opposition, at least in the sense of

passive and active nature of each. This point, not of ma

importance, points toward a larger view which I thi

posits and which Straumann does not quite come up to i

analysis. I will discuss this larger view in Chap I

Straumann skirts one of the knottier problems in nove.

for such critics as Rice, who saw the "prevail" i

of the marshalll as a repudiation of ChrI an

Besides having to sidestep this mat St

times offers qualitative judgments about

scenes, which he does not demonstrate. An

equates the tempting of the Federal deputy b

racehorse in the "horsethief" e wi

the Cor 1 in t aundy Th en

is a su nd

but in hi


the owner

i mon ay have comic

s hole episode; but

he sode federal deputy

to the Runner in than he is

ch character dergoes a conversion, the

as a result% ring the "horsethief"

ing to the "thieves" in the same manner as

n the scene noted above. Straumann reads

a the main

)hum us vein as against the spiritual,

n. mann's concentrating

sees as th prop r indicate meaning

are lea, onclusi ne I

a There th ivial in


en the

IWPre es not W t thi

as "evil emerging from goo st

the contention. Strauman sees

but one must own that there is moral

about the priest. The Runn. ho shou

for exploration within the terms Strauman


Finally, although Straumann's anal

cellent one, I do not agree with his concl

sight into the antagonistic forces exist

a central structuring element is moA h

complex structure in terms of internal relat

his interpretations of the final meanings

error owing to what I believe is a misco

world view. The idea of a clear o

joined and pointing up an inherent dua

man, is not necessarily the case in A

explicitly points out to the Corpor i

scene, when he s to himself

articulate' c


cti atology

in t que unable.

e demands that t contestants be

always al time. St non's lysis does

empts to define he "world view"

ut although I disagree wiw Straumann's

of Faulkner's'\vorld view' I find his analysis

luable at this point since I believe tHat one

sess and attempt to define Faulkner's "world view" in

see the true structural dynamics operating in A Fable.

d view" is, though, can be pinpointed more pre-

han Straumann's definition, and will constitute the

n of the following chapter. Straumann's analysis

unable in other ways. his seeing the novel in

erd str t ity based on Christian-

tues offers a freedom to the reader that allows

tio ees the novel fr1 me of the

s in critic ve placed u u is also

Sno tur ar

afe cri

that time. His example of fre f i

by preconceived traditional rationales of a his ori

or theological nature, has allowed my own

range. .

Finally, we may consider an alysis

ly the most comprehensive, and,I believe, authoritat

ing of A Fable to date, that offered by Sylvan Sc

He exhibits a knowledge of the work that no critic has

and his sensitive appraisal is an admirable ad on

criticism. Schendler sees the novel as a moral

concerned with salvation. The novel is structured

around the larger myth of the Passion, but the u

becomes centered on the Runner, who, Schendler

represents man at his highest moral ca

tains that Faulkner has used the m f t

ly to point up the action taking place

ultimately pushes past his description

of man to posit an ethical absolute

action presented in AF le.

titude to the ideas rl J

s o n

of a

t ble defeat,

e Sagendler,

van rent duality

a anything to change

itio e abs et ic is one that is

the necessity of freedom. Man must act

the si'ne qua of humanity.36

en r to posit clear-cut delineations of good

ity exists in man and nature. The

e with it are evil because they, deny-

the possibility of moral responsi-

ni of choice. Sch mes close

re 0 am s

d i inev le

t io es a

n as

71o Sch

at this point since there

the dialectic. A cycle of reco 0o

defeat, and renewed revolt creates a

implied synthesis of the warring

may be seen as a possible mor resol

Yet the impossibility of attaining the

tion is what apparently gives the flic

Schendler divides the novel into

Chapters 1-5 offer opposing themes in t

myth in opposition to the war. Ch e

concerned with the "horsethief" episode

treatment of the ideas contained i pters

(the Marshall's background, the meet

the first three parts of Chapter 8 (the

barrage, Levine's suicide, and uar

frontation with the Mars wli h

complete the theme of th % sin

for the last section. The remainder

supper"scene, the "

and Chapte ~i he

and 10 1 "T


ast section,
explain the

all, cheler, are mainly

he ality. A Fable, Sdendler says,

nies ort x Chris*an ideas of a super-

Sopens the reader to new possibilities of

its use of the comic and sacred, and through

ritual, myth, humor, and irony offers a total

Jf man which posits an ethic of action in the

e defeat, and which transcends the very

ends many eaes describing as part of

xist ce.

n th is is by far thI c,most

been done, an again ac-

celle I must disagree on some basic

inte C ion. First, I believe

li a elemen y

with and active opponent of evil within the same cont

a good example of this. Action itself is not as simple

nature as Schendler would have it. Relegating the Co

act to one of lesser magnitude simply because the Ru

the men move out of the trenches does not seem to be

assessment of these two characters'actions in rela

each other. The nature of action is more complex ha

passivity or activity; thus the Corporal remains, for

center of the whole complex of attitudes he represents

than the Runner; the latter I see more in relation 4.i

the Quartermaster, with whom he is joined at the end.

other characters also--the Quartermaster, the Groom

definitely do not see as an Anti-Christ), Levine--al

differently for me, owing mainly to a further ramifica

find in the nature of action, an explanation

form part of Chapter III, which is devoted to de

the Corporal represents and how he functions in the

Schendler's division of the novel nto the fou

sections is generally insightful, but is posited

premises than mine. The total structure ch e

his divisions is less coherent than sin

on considerations less structurally

see the whole of t

an i r

inked a structure

ral particular of action.

I di als with his interpretation of the function

the hourss e isode. He sees it as an allegory of

e main all This reading is rather remote from the

very quality the "horsethief" episode seems to display in

st to the main action. The "horsethief" episode ap-

at le on the surface, to be closer to "reality" than

the main action rather than two removes from it, even though

it contains certain elements which are far from "real" in

the snse of O uralistic rendering of experience.

In pushing the action of A Fable beyond a description

f the human condition and into the ethic of action leading

to salvation, Schendler develops a strained interpretation

in order to maintain its consistency. For this reason he

40aims that the ethic "transcends" the very ironies which all

of the action describes, a transcendence which is nowhere

t in the action of the novel itself, but which must

erred by the reader from the work as a whole.

other p ts of d between Schendler's readsg

will be ed 0 all h' analysis has been

rking standard

ha ed me in clarifying my own. view i perhaps

best described as different in relation to his. His

ment is coherent and meaningful in its totality, and e

and clarifies much of what was deemed obscure, in eqg

conceptualized, and meaningless in a novel which de

better treatment. His view posits a truth; mine wi

simply posit another, different truth which m .als

trained within the covers of A Fable.

a -a &


i que

of the

t easily to

01 and


6 fini-

cropper because he has attempted to deal with probl

outside the limits of his powers. Faulkner, most main-

tain, is a consummate craftsman within the limits of t

Yoknapatawpha experience, one which he understands, bu

should deal only with this concrete fictional world.

should remain outside the heady abstract areas wh1 onl

theologians, philosophers, historians, and critics sh

tread without fear.

I disagree with these critics. I believe, alo

Mr. Schendler and Mr. Straumann, that A Fable is not a

ceptual failure. My conclusion, derived from quite diffe

evidence than theirs, points to further considerations tha

are quite different from theirs, especially in terms of t

matic resolution. The intellectual grounding of A Fabl

be restricted to a much more precise and coherent area t

the eclectic existential gleanings of Sc W ler's et

tractive and well-presented though it be), or th i

Stoic-Christian suspension of Straumann. I believe

for the opposition which form the "dialectica

A Fable may be found for the4ost part in the

Henri Bergson, specifically in The Two Sou ces o

and Relig 1 a tit ch it lf s

ble This



rms re of A

f cl shall erm it the "deep

to di e it from many of the more

ich occur in the novel.

at this point that I believe A Fable

it is more descriptive

s efentially a description of two

uir complex inter-

andWis y. Failure to realize

of the confusion of many of

more cogent argument by F-aulkn4w

ical v whether it focused Christian-

conclusion may see ss palat-

oe justice or establ hed moral-

men degree


To state that all the conflicts em

basic opposition of intellect and intuition

simple as an explanation of the complex action of A

but further inquiry will demonstrate that it

some respects yet complex in others. It is si

it admits a resolution or "synthesis" which is 14

than Schendler's, since it merely describes a condi

stead of forcing through to an ethic which must

(i.e., "deny") the very ironies the novel spends so m

describing. It is less complex yet more dynamic

mann's eclectic, suspended, tripartite stasis. Its f

also more precise than either of these two mirable c

allow. The ultimate resolution of theme in&m le re

upon a great complexity which is contained within

viewof the essential opposition of-the intelle

tuition as sources for morality and re

this view Bergson draws his conceptual ca

the intellect, with its concomitant focus on

society, embraces static religion, abstra

and mechanism; in opposition is th int

society, dynamic religion, concrete ex

and mysticism. s c

Faulkner' ti.


Sd Testament orthodoxy, nor Christ against Caesar,

nor the apostolic church against the institutionalized

church, nor war against peace, nor a projected humanism

tnst a traditional transcendent super-being. It is a

ore simple yet more profound opposition which may mani-

fest itself in any of these more apparent conflicts. In-

deed, most of the above-mentioned "conflicts" ate not real

conflicts at all, but would fall within one of these two

basic opposition, the intellect, since most would be sub-

sumed under static religion.

The essential opposition2 of intuition and intel-

lect as a means of ordering and giving meaning to the human

condition penetrates to the hegrt of A Fable and encom-

passes every ramification of the conflicts which appear

upon the surface.

Some clues to the broad intellectual basis and, in a

Larger sense, to the whole intellectual environment within

which A Fable may be read, occur in a conversation between

*Faulkner and a young Frenchman, Loic Bouvard, at the Princeton

opposition in one upreme se is fused in the
elan vita sest approximation

for Bouvard, who was studying D.

Science at Princeton. The atmosphe

ducive to candor, but Bouvard ted

careful, in fact deliberate, in e

conversation finally became t

when Bouvard informed Faulkner that many

in France were supplanting a fait

obviously a reference to the atheis xis

two writers. Faulkner's reply is mor

parent at first.

"Probably you are wron doi
God in that fashion. is
created man. If y
you won't wind up
God and then you begi
begin to ask .Why? Why
away by the ve( ac

But he immediately qu ified hi

"Natural not
a God s m
of ma es
and i

Bouvard, appar rea

he were ~


Taul s

,t he





as he un dly

A Fable, a ere-

Leelation to



lectual. t ing is the ease w

reduced Faulkner's st nts about Go

especially since Faulkner had immedia

he meant neither "a personified or me

attempt here to rectify an error i1Wrea

as well as many later critics menti

For what Bouvard thought were separate

were much more closely joined than he re

some ways practically fused. I mean e

"god." It is my belief that Faulkner, If

speaking about one in terms of the other ("a

most complete expression of manki but

necessary limits of how they define each cat

is not so precise in A Fable a s B on in

of Morality and Religion, but res

Faulkner's library doe y

of The Two Sources ofi R

hypothesis that Bergson's or

of A Fable r gains

recorded their

ers of t ich I shall

ergson's The Two Sources of Morality

abie. will show parallels both in sub-

uage which suggest more than mere co-

r egin with a brief overview of Bergson's work.

Berg s on morality are grounded in his conC'ept of

"crea tion," an idea associated with the action

emanating is essential conception of the elan vital.

He b t life is "a certain effort to obtain certain

thing aw matter" .and that "life" propels itself

through d attempts, to wrest form from it. Start-

i t" of life as experience, Bergson disallows

th nce can offer a physico-chemical explanation of

l self, let alone its evolu4n. He rejects Darwin's

al selection as an explanation of the ascension of

s into higher forms,because this notion necessitates

by ing a combination o ance,

cause th r ta.1

life."7 Life has occurred in certain definite direction

he asserts. Lamarck is also rejected because t) assu

evolution is all matter of adjustment to enviro al

sure would force a conclusion that embodies th

of learned characteristics, a situation that evi

allows. Bergson explains evolutio, and ultimately

as a result of an "inward impulse that passes fr t

germ through individuals, that carries life in a

tion towards an ever higher complexity." Since evo

not explainable by mechanical action of causes, no s

explanation is possible,and thus exists the "mysterio

character of the operation of life." One's knowledge o

evolution actually depends upon whether one views it from

9 !
standpoint of intelligence or intuition. Viewed

"outside," the intelligence, evolution appears t

velously coordinated complexity of innumerable ad

of innumerable elements, and thus a preconceive

implied. Viewed from the "inside," the intuitive

evolution would appear as simply a reaction to

7bid., p. ^

tse I spe he ears to n n-

noting count-

is ate acts), but the intuition ees only the immedi-

bst come as a simple undivided act.

*gsO uses the example, among others, of the simple move-

ant of one's hand swinginginan arc; from the outside it ap-

sars~ o be a series of infinite points adjacent to one -

along a finite curve; felt from the inside it is

y an indivisible act. In order to see evolution com-

etely ne must employ both the outer and inner perspec-

Lves This double vision is what one must employ at the

viewing A Fable in order to see its total meaning

fied expression of the human condition. Bergson's

ktal" allows this two-fold approach to conceptualiz-

ution, for when one allows that an impetus toward

com ete creation occurred at each instance of creation

ndivisiblejct as seen through the intuition), and

receives hr gh intelligence each particular creation

t ht of the exity of all f s, one may view

as a "series of sudden the variation

ew spgqies as a multi

g h wnh

w 4

vital impulse does not exhibit a great overall plan there

is yet a "will" present in each individual creation, since

each individual creation is the end result of a particular

problem to be overcome. This action causes variety among

the species, allows the sudden leaps which make special,

exceptional individuals who will open new avenues toward the

realization of existence, and who will cons titute ano

and larger "morality" than that offered by nature and so

up to that point. In A Fable the Corporal is the res

a "sudden leap" in the species' development.

This knowledge allows us to posit the Corporal's

of existence in A Fable in opposition to the view offered

by the Marshall. The latter represents the historical, :In-

tellectual view which has its basis in the morality the

.world has known up to the date of their confrontation.

Furthermore, this knowledge allows us to reconcile the a

parent ambiguity and irresolution of the final scenes in

A Fable, in determining the efficacy of the Corporal's

mission and the condition of mankind.

The ramifications of Bergson's ideas on ol

penetrate even further into the struct

11 Neith n
or an esch
shall i

t exhi ts

of life


d the restriction of

on expands upon

its he two

t and intelli-

t an hive,

p ely


he -her

aspects of each in all species demonstrate), had with

the inventive and the individuated--in short, the pos-

sibility of choice. A

At this point one might assume that sinqc in

ended in the completely closed inljt socc the it
ligence, manifesting itself in man and implying choice,

should naturally lead man in the opposite direction o

polar evolution, namely toward the completely open s

and the autonomous individual. This however, is n t the

case. A gigantic paradox occurs in the possibility of

antagonism between the elan vital, which is life i, it

most basic aspect, and the intelligence which is one o

its expressions. Intelligence allows reflection

consciousness of an ego instead of the automat' res

of the insect. Herein lies the danger, beca

ligence might seek an egoistic path inimi

through its very inventiveness and ability to se.

which always tends toward tr retention of 1'

terms, the social order, had to devise so

training each individual within the so

managed this by a "mechanism" w

ticular, b ich i


I' ana oees;

s eQn
en each
p, Id be e n in-
e, yet in15 that man
d not, hout c to be man,
ject all pieces ether and chase
accept a mechanic preservation.
inct gave place porarily to a
tem of habits, ne of which
became contingent, r convergence
toward th reserve of society
ing alone necessary and this ne-
ty bringing back instinct with it.
necessity of 4 whole, felt be-
the conti ency of the parts, is
we call al obligation in general.13

ee, morality or obligation is

biological compulsion behind

ar i igent individual must

on s ndiv ces, the

obligation behind~ -

e fori

for ma lity and presents the gigantic paradoxes which

emerge in the interrelationship between the two opposing

forces. It is worthwhile to note at this point that

opposition registered by the Corporal, who is the mys

intuitive man, and who is biologically linked to t

represents the refinement of instinct--the other sid

biological basis for morality. Thus, instinct, befo

can become intuition, must undergo a process of "ref

actually a reversion to what it was before it became

This point is important, I believe, because it contrad

some of the earlier conceptions of Faulkner's use of "p

tives" as o-pposed to "puritans" in his novels. To see

essentially opposing "types" as emanating from the same

source, both "evolving" along different lines, offers

feasible framework within which to explain certain co

ties of character and action which occur in Faulkner's

The intuitive approach to expernce better explain

actions of certain characters like Ike Mc aslin

Corporal, rather than reducing them to "primit

operate without anything but a rather cr e sen

ing." Many seeming antagonists in A

antagonists at all when view der

society fo


S ligent

e indi-

nifests it-

e gener tion is

s itself in

m~ ly at war with in-

Sch emerge, while not

ated is position by

O s closed

necessity of a se of

pN-ex tool-using gr insect iet

instinctive draw behind thl dividual^ con

is still directed toward the group.

A closed society is the rural n

intelligence, and it is the w as we per

our intelligence. All of the action of A le

within the context of a world which b

than likely continue to be, one vast closed soc

course, not all segments of a closed society ar

stringent in their restrictions, as we shall se

we break it down into its three major egmen

religious, and civil--which operate in A Fable

Bergson noted that the intellect

capacity in man. Although it lov ab

theless is directed toward t ue u

logic undergirds the tec logic

closed societies. But the ellec s

unchanging structures su

requires s ys, easur

v e f r e


i t ing

ary per-

a lligence

ce, least
t ce alone could
elli e would be more
to p oceed in the opposite
tion; it was provided for a def-
e object; and when it attempts
?culatin on a ]gher plane, it
es us, at the most, to conceive
cities, it does not attain any

shall must see the C oral's inclinations /

"that heaven of man's delusiA" 354),

rete reali is for the pr" who

m. TAe int gence is not eq

"real Corpor s ac

most co ion of m ind,"


be neatly described in the terms of what we admire, be- I

cause much of our admiration is conditioned by the symbolic

projection of the closed society. The closed society is

delineated in the three major segments noted above in A

Fable, but the open society--the extension of the reality

the Corporal, is all embodied within him--it cannot be dem

strated neatly because it must ultimately push against e

closed society, and must do so wearing the mask of the c

society. Herein lies the explanation for the use of the

Christian symbols of the Passion.

The Marshall, who is also the Corporal's father, is

the highest expression of the intelligence and all that it

encompasses within the social sphere. He acts as focus f

this role in several ways. The most obvious focus is his

role as supreme general of all the forces, his less obvious

status is as a parent, his least obvious position is as

representative of the compelling force in what Bergso

"static religion." The Marshall is authoritarian--he

as both intelligent and social. The Mtarshall, almo

intelligence, is passionless, disenchanted, rational

The first description of him offers little physi

intelligence is empahsized.

S in


of all things or merely its earthly
delegate. It would be content to fc
itself pervaded, though retaining its
own personality, by a being immeasur-
ably mightier than itself .. Pt
would give itself to society, but to
a society comprising all humanity, love
in the love of the principle underlying
it. The confidence whi static relig
brought to man would th*W be transfigur
no more thought for the orrow, no more
anxious heart searching; materially the
object would no longer be worthwhile, and
morally would take on too high a signify
chance. Now detachment from each arti
ular thing would become attachment to
life in general.17

The "effort" referred to above is what Bergson te ms an

sification of the intuition which consummates itself a

for intuition "has become purecontemplation onl
weakening in its principle."

One need only remember that A Fable begins i

res. The essential action, the mutiny, has l ready t

place as the result of toe Corporal's ac ti

ing a human society idea above and bey

considerations which are fostered by the war-

The Corporal's detachment is a part of the ch

progenitor of dynamic r igion--not, let me

codified gospels of Chr ty. The "


e e n the

e cl Fable.

er ion ar itely

chical, reserving

ate rpetuate morality by

cipline, teaching and enforcing laws,

hasizing ritua Lty, and obligation in

symbols of respect which are legion in

All of these considerations emanate

fro intelligence, which loves abstraction,

st codes are those which are most abstract

1. .ed only consider the "rhetoric" of war

how the military ent of the closed

s co ith the* de, a the ubiquitous ap-

he clo

,the 1~, ivil.

the second segment, are treated with less exaggeration

are nonetheless explicitly delineated in their role. The

level, the religious, causes most confusion among rea

In the case of the closed society, this religious segme

is static religion. It is owing to the implicit rather

explicit treatment of this level that confuses many read

Rather than augment a definition, Faulkner uses image

structure and the implication of action played against an

implied background (the"allegory" of the Passion) to demon-

strate static religion. We must not forget that the Bib

counterparts to the action described in A Fable are not th

opposite to the action portrayed--the gospels, in our co,

text, are a part of organized, institutionalized, static

religion--not the dynamic religion embodied in the person of

the Corporal.

These three segments of the closed society have

focus and apex in the Marshall. In his person res4 he

highest giftsof power that the various segments of the e ose

society can offer. As military man he is the 4reme

alissimo of all the forces.

the lone grey man supreme,
otent and inaccessible behind the
stone door and the sentries an
symbolical flags of the hotel
who dealt le in .death
elt S al wHnJ_

Sntof a a nd position

es e was

golden y the was
H. . e s not even
e othe Parisian, .. a
e a- aristocrat f
or uland an only child,
erely heir in his own right to
s than an e knew save the
d banker o guarded and
sed and incremented them, but to
incalculable weight and influence
the uncle who was the nation's first
et member, . and of the god-
ather whose name opened doors which
that of o1 Cabinet Minister
could i (p. 247)

'gious level his role becomes more ambiguous, owing

e method Faulkner employs in presenting this

;he closed society. Many direct references are

describing the Marshall in religious terms, which

0 aspects of the other segments of the closed
Ls when he is described at the military academy

re out of ined- ass cathedral

hed wall

omnipotent powers of God. But in his "allegorica-i

reference to the resemblance of the action to the

position becomes ambiguous (is he God, Satan, or C

only if one demands that the allegory conform to tr

ideas of the Christian story. If gne sees the w1e ide

of the Christian Passion as part of the institution

codified, static religion, as opposed to the implied dy

religion represented by the Corporal, much of th b

dissolves, or at least becomes irrelevant in dete in

theme; because whether God or Satan,both of these aspec

traditional Christianity are equally opposed to wha e

Corporal represents in his person. The codified Judeo-

Christian historical tradition, which is part of the cl

society, has become intellectualized and made part of t

vast complex of structures which perpetuates the socie

through the myth-making function.

A more relevant point for us to consider i ha

closed society makes use of the codified "st

maintaining its morality and preserving its in

and in a fixed religion, whether the Mar

he is the extreme embodiment of that as

of a "mor ity" dered by a sta c

to thr


f the closed are the

their sent es cho the ex-

closes society. Their primary

re ty, a condition analogous to stasis, and

ith abstractions. They are constantly talk-

yhonor, and rules. In practice their actions

thPwords, but their belief in their moral com-

s unshakeable. They are wedded to their ultra-


All 4bhe Marshall's subordinates are minor carbon

im, alttugh none is as wise and farsighted as

om the Sergeant in the opening scene who

ad looked at the anonymous denizens
f the civilian world from the isola-
tion, insulation, of that unchallenge-
le nity, himself and his
Saint cked kind in the
e frat ty of valor. (p. 10)

German general who i monstrously vicious parody, a

lly exa rat squerie of the military cliche,

y" ay trait dit

their tract


The lower orders of the military often outwardly

exhibit insect-like traits in their mechanical reactions,

but they still reflect, cogitate. They are creatures both

intelligent and social in the Bergsonian sense; they strive

for personal glory, always within the rigid, strict frame-

work which they have accepted as their code. No one can thi

of himself beyond his group. When their thoughts verge upon

Bergson's concept of a human society, as opposed to a social

society, these thoughts are tinged with fear and a vague

feeling of sinfulness, as the reaction of the sergeant i


Looking about at the waiting faces.
it seemed to him with a kind of terror
that it was himself who was the alien,
and not just alien, but obsolete; that
on that day twenty years ago, in return
for the right and the chance to wear on
the battle-soiled breast of his coat
the battle-grimed symbolical candy-
stripes of valour and endUiance and fidel-
ity and physical anguish and sacrifice
he had sold his birthright in the race
of man. (p. 10)

The gamut of the military society is run; at one

are the lower orders, who are civilians recruited into

dehumanized by the military and the ward so that they are

sleepwalkers looking back across nightmares (p.

the middle are the lower ranks of noncommission

vho all react uch the same as the sergeant

en dhe d cer



d his


ragnon ithe perfect

the society for its

seemed to e had

e perfect soldier; past-

".p. 23). His~rigidity, his

the division's "record" be

n one sen becomes

is con ion with his

has caused in

W, 4


that he rebels against his execution. His insistence upon

what punishment should be meted out to the men exceeds all

expectations. By demanding that the entire regiment be shot

he has not measured adequately the necessary means of vN

rating his record, even according to military standards,nor

has he gauged the extent of the mutinous act's consequence9

Nor does he care. His mind runs in linear fashion, simply

repeating his request to the Marshall, regardless of the

futility of expediency of the act.

"The whole regiment," the old marshall
said . not just this ringleader
and his twelve disciples. By all
means, the nine of them who are French-
men, yet who still permitted themselves
to be corrupted." "There was no ring-
leader" the division commander said,
harsh and rigid. "The regiment muti-
"The regiment mutinied," the old
marshall repeated again. "And suppose
we do. What of the other regiments
in your division, when they learn of
"Shoot them," the division commander
"And the other divisions in your
corps, and the other corps on either
side of you."
"Shoot them," the division commander
said, and stood again inflexible and
composed-. . (pp. 233,234)

But Gragnon is not stupid. His inflexibi

simply part of his makeup as a military man. H'

gence is acute. Ss mistakes occur owing

knowlae ioAd


alt gh it




in fa
een he

y act me ani not act

tely ergsp noted

f t ~i-

W V 4

but they also present the traits that intelligence

display, according to Bergson. An example would be

corps commander (Lallemont), who rides with Gragnon to

Chaulnesmont for the latter's court martial. Gragnon i

bitterly but hopefully contemplating the possibility o

the defeat turning into a major disaster, thereby nega

ing Bidet's getting his marshall's baton (the reason f

the attack in the first place). Lallemont, in refuting

Gragnon's contention, admonishes Gragnon's incapacity t

understand the nature of man or failure. He tells Gragn

that he didn't really fail, and it didn't matter wheth

attack failed either, because

'The Boche doesn't want to destroy us,
any more than we would want or could
afford, to destroy him. Can't you
understand: either of us, without
the other, couldn't exist? That even
if nobody was left in France to con-
fer Bidet's baton, some Boche would
be selected, even if there remained
only one private. . (p. 28)

And from this standpoint, the corps commander offer

view of man.

It is man who is our enemy, the vas
seething moiling spiritless mass
him. Once to each period of
glorious history, one of us a
with the stature of a giant,
and without warning in the
a nation as a d er
buttery, swo
he he d


f te e



erent ,


pt thq rimW r of

to a f t

o n 0 ii-



The whole focus of Bidet's suprahuman intelligence is actu

a fusion of three aspects of the intelligence according to

Bergson. In his view of man as a sort of biological machine

Bidet focuses on Bergson's insistence on biology as the bas

for all psychology. In the fusion of the machine with this

view, Bidet echoes the overview of the world which the in-

telligence fosters, the mechanistic as against the mystic.

In abstracting experience he represents the essentially

symbolic nature of intelligence. Bidet, in the last scene

between him and Gragnon in the ludicrous setting of the boud

is still unabashedly unaware of the military abstractions

he practically assigns Gragnon to certain death by forcin

him to undergo court martial at Chaulnesmont. In explain

away Gragnon's "failure," he feels no compunction in assess-

ing Gragnon's position in the eternal scheme of things as

viewed by the military society.

"The three stars which Sergeant
Gragnon won by his own strength,
with help from man nor God neither,
have damned you, General. Call
yours martyrdom for the world; you
will have saved it. . ."(p. 54)

When Gragnon asks what will happen to him, Bidet

"I don't know. It will be glorious (p. 54).

The outcome of Gragnon's trip,

glorious, is "glorious" in t

the annals SM y h

e to

f a t ii. His

I hum aside from

of the i elligent being,

ril ntere in how to maintain con-

uction of man to the "various vents and

is composed, is an attempt at reduction

iost basic necessities upon which to rest power. By

s a gr4) not individual men--is "no
an its s," Bidet is merely symbolizing experience

en en masse. It would be erroneous to

active love of evil; he is merely actingJ

l commitment to a society whose obligations he

ed. tion e 0 s of war to

found ruisms.

ho invented war. . it
ich r From

compose a countenance whose expression
can be easily interpreted. Self-
conteredness, cohesion, hierarchy,
absolute authority of the chief, all
this means discipline, the war spirit.
Did nature will war? . It is in d
this sense that she willed war. She
endowed man with a tool-making intel-
ligence. . Since they are things
apart from him it is easier to' take
them ready-made than to make them.
.the origin of war is ownership,
individual or collective, and since
humanity is predestined to ownership
by its structure, war is natural.19

"Natural" for Bergson is almost always synonymous with in-

stinctive; therefore, the biological basis for the responsi-

bility of war and the biological basis for the morality of the

military position. They are created by the war, and define

themselves in relation to it. Although this biological basis

of the "morality" of war does not exclude them from responsi-

bility, it nonetheless makesmore complex the problem of ev

in A Fable. The war may be an evil, as a disease is evil,

but as a moral evil it becomes a more complex matter, esp

ly in determining the "morality" of the motives of the v

characters. Good and evil are simply not so neatly de

in A Fable as some critics would have, and most would 1

The most obvious representative of the "ethic

of the military position is the Norman, the Qu

19Bergson, l uigion, p.

General other c rac s da

eQ hin aarchy

specific second to Marshall. He ated second

to the Marshall's first from St. Cyr, followed him to the

sert outpost many years later to relieve him, and much

was made Quartermaster General of the French Army by

e Marshall after the latter achieved rank high enough to

to f It is the Quartermaster General's

long address to the "spirit" of the Zarshall which comes

closest to the Marshall's own attitude. The Quartermaster

is able to conceptualize a long perspective, whereby the

fusion of civilized society, the military, and institutional-

ized religion is made concrete. In short, he is able to

coalesce the three main segments of the'closed society into

one compact historical view. His apostrophe is lengthy, but

I shall quote a good part of it, since it is a focal point

for much of what we have been describing as the closed society.

Rapacity does not fail, else man must
deny he breathes. Not rapacity: its
whole vast glorious history repudiates
that. It does not, cannot, must not
fail. Not just one family i ne nation
privileged to soar comet to splen-
did zenith throw d be it, not
just one nation al ons
selected as heir to t v splendid
her' ge; not just
ents s
re nuwh t

present and the glory of his past;
civilization itself is its password
and Christianity its masterpiece,
Chartres and the Sistine Chapel, the
pyramids and the rock wombed powder-
magazines under the Gates of Hercules
its altars and monuments, Michelanglo
and Phidas and Newton and Ericsson as
Archimedes and Krupp its priests and popes
and bishops; the long 4 less roster of
its glory. . The chairmen of boards
and the presidents of federations, the
doctors lawyers and educators and chu
men after nineteen centuries have resc
the son of heaven from oblivion and
translated him from mere meek heir to
earth to chairman of its board of tra .
Not rapacity, which, like pove
takes care of its own. Because it enures,
not even because it is rapacity, but be e
man is man, enduring and immortal; end
not because he is immortal but immorta
because he endures.. (pp. 259, 260)

It is not surprising that Miss Brumm, using this sa4

moral center of A Fable, would consider the novel he

but her chief error,as was pointed out above, was

to note that this argument is offered b e Quar

who simply represents one of the ethical

a part of the human condition. Also, this

taken place-many years before the imme

novel, is offered mainly to justify th

due rise to power '"ned for him.

apt description o e

the war-



n quite

ter n

ail an one of character. :ith n the limits

full capacity to act.

station with the Marshall after the bom-

en attempts to resign, his action is linked

ct. le should i known what would have oc-

s, and therefore, by not knowing and signing

r the blank munition, *tc., he is responsible also

1 is actions are done with the intention

edition of mankind. He also stands resolute

ting the Runner's batte d body, even though

shown h th ssity of his pos on in

ral' xec The Quartermas 's

he h or fails to act, but tlat

an not ois of a L ognce

rlv Beran akn

40 of the closed society, as his long apostrophe i

But his view is only one part of a condition which embrace

a two-fold truth. The Runner realizes the double nature

truth in the passage where he muses on the war's sudden

station, and the possibilities its expectedd end offers.

In Christ is death at end in Adam that a
true, butthe wrong one: not the wrong
truth but the wrong moment for it, the
wrong one needed and desired. (p.83,italics

Yet the Quartermaster does believe that the pos

advance of man can come about through the very condition

ironically outlines in his long address to the Marshall.

passage is, as Miss Brumm noted, an ironical version in s

respects of Paul's epistle (I Corinthians 13:8) in whicf

"rapacity" is substituted for "charity," but the essential

reasoning behind both passages is parallel. Lo

become love of things in the Quartermast v' 'on

more telling point emerges from con 'der

Quartermaster used it at all. He was i th sh

seeming defection from his family. And in sage

Quartermaster indicated that he knd4

this easily dissolved. The Marshall h

as many of their brot ficers ha

gone to,& desA .taq it his


Sis re-

to re-
of man's

' the othesaid.
even brusquely,
S, "you will

icant. Hi immediately

Th Partermaster

e." The reduction

I 01s ue


to a discussion of the intuition as the basis for a

society as distinct from a social one. Note that B

emphasized the inability of the intelligencelof whl

Marshall is an embodiment in A Fable, to conceive

this expansion.

Between the nation, however big, and
humanity there lies the whole distance
from the finite to the indefinite, from
the closed to the open. We are fond of
saying that the apprenticeship to civic
virtue is served in the family, and that
in the same way, from holding our country
dear, we learn to love mankind. Our
sympathies are supposed to broaden out
in an unbroken progression to expand
while remaining identical and to end.
by embracing all humanity. This is
a prior reasoning, the result of a
purely intellectualist conception of the
soul. . The difference between the
two objects is one of kind and not simply
one of degree. . even today we still
love naturally and directly oui cents
and fellow countrymen, where .4 of
mankind is indirect and acquire

The Quartermaster eventually compounds his misconc

when he rationalizes away the Varshall's

the soldier he sacrificed to the Riffs the

it is the Quartermaster's intellect which

him, not his simple hope in the fAure o

the Marshall emanated basically

man, r

Stha embrace humanity. our in-

te v itself that th ne of

advance, third ha differently."21 The Quartermaster

rs on this and although his exclamations may seem

emotional, his is an emotion born of contemplation, grounded

tract and historical conception of what man is, and

alt oug] he does not share the corps commander's or Bidet's

Denigrating view of man, the Quartermaster nonetheless sees

man's destiny in social, abstract terms, never allowing the

simple fact of experience to intrude upon his preconceptions.

is attraction to the Marshall resembles the Runner's attrac-

t oto the Corporal, but although they parallel each other

in this respect, they are very different in another important

Respect. The Quartermaster intellectualizes his feelings into

universal terms; the Runner feels an abstraction that acts

a compulsion, and he follows it in his relation with

e Corporal and the Groom. This method of parallels and

contrasts is a primary structuring element in A Fable in

the various episodes together, and also directly

ds t ergson's descriptions of how the two sources

lity a ligion operate ond ition.

laP of tlf old f- r en zy ," wI will be di E

later in Chapter IV which is specitical

overall structure of A Fable.

The various arguments not above, th

military point of view, have en within

between the ultra-closed military society a

segments, the civil and religious, which hav

fostered the military.

The many allusions by the Quarterm

politician4-, Christ, and Caesar, d point u

collusion among the three segments of the cl

The linkage is important between the civi

because it serves to stress the greater

between "man" and the militarists

noted. The civilian populace

also. The whole government

communication with the mili

"all that vast po
insnfing represe
mdleft c


son, habit is the riLmeans by which the civil

meant the closed society perpetuates the static morality

the close city. Habit lies at the base of much of

"obligation" we feel toward the group. In the closed


obligation stands for the pressure
exerted by the elements of society
on one another in order to maintain
Sthe shape of the whole; a pressure
whose effect is prefigured in each
of us by a system of habits which,
so to speak, go to meet it.22

e crowd which has gathered in the opening scene to view

e mutinied regiment as it is being driven to the stockade

s composed primarily of peasants, but

the original regiment had been
raised in this district .
and most of its subsequent re-
placements had been drawn from
this same district, so that most
of these old men were not only
veterans of it in their %ime, and
these male children already dedi-
cated to it when their time should
come.. . (p. 14)

location is that has practical A e insti-

as far as t

;on between

r w w

the army goes. That the crowd and the military are actual 4

more intimately joined than the surface action would indicate

is suggested in the description of the sergeant also. Fa
using "evolution" in a purely metaphoric sense in describe

the sergeant's physical stature, gjes on to relate him to t

civilian populace in terms of a theatre metaphor which s

to imply that underneath they are actually similar. The

Sergeant was

a thick man of forty . whose racial
stature Napoleon had shortened two or
three inches a hundred years ago as
Caesar had shortened that of the Italians
and Hannibal that of the nameless pedi-
ment pieces of his glory--a husband and
father who should (perhaps even could
and would) have been a custodian of
winecasks in the Paris Halles if he
and the Paris Halles had been cast on
some other stage than this. (p. 7)

The crowd also vents its early fury upon the Corporal rath

than upon the military. They have a greater kinship with

the very forces that are about to destroy their ed

than they do with the Corporal who led the regime

mutiny. As to the war, Faulkner draws a link betwe

war and "natural" laws.

They had got used to the war now
four years. In four years, they
even learned how to live w h it
it; or ra beneath s
ct or 0o




arned the
ad ly
I gh the still
si commander the
of their fear and the instru-
neir ang sh, they had not
not ly a French soldier,j
a ithful one . who,
igh privilege of being a
thful Frenchman and soldier,-
rfeit and abdicate his right
man--where theirs would
grieve, his would
could share only in
ever in the grief; victim,
n rank and high estate.

victims ic scene,

grief," which the crowd i ing

counterpart of theirievi ng

in the last scene of the Ears l's funeral.

is not so much at the mercy of lita

in league with it. Both group en

ligence operating to preserve e society.

ticians, bankers, and industrialists--

master's apostrophe--down to the peasant w

point of action in the city crowd,man i

preserve an identity outside himse

tary, the church, or the city itself

Even the Corporal, after the

the Marshall, uses the impetus of th

pline to restrain Pierre Bouc, wh

Peter (he had deserted the Cor ra

speaks to him in Zettla the

nationality, but th h der

recapitulates what happy

"'F forgive

w a

p1ic Pin gly y g &

lingly t for the

reservation of society, and one of the great paradoxes in

A Fable i necessity of the war to preserve society, as

they see it. This is the moral basis for the Marshall's acts./

Were o rely to assess the Marshall's statements as con-

nie lies offered to aid expediency, one would miss this

ital point. He does not hesitate to accept responsibility

or J bombardment when the Quartermaster confronts him.

And the Quartermaster is forced to.agree that the Marshall's

acts e in the interest ultimately of both aspects of man's

nature--is intelligence and his feelings. The Marshall is the

apex of theollective morality of the citizenry at large. For

this reason the crowd is antagonistic toward the Corporal and

grieves at the end for the Marshall.

T tics who wished to see A Fable strictly as a

emic against war made an essential error in their failure

the distinction in the "warring"factions does not

in the citj ry at large versus the military, but be-

both and the Corp and what he represents in

son. H it is the su s f the obligati they

itary. F war but

aXki on-

consideration they offer. Althhoh their actions

render their behavior ludicrous, they nonethele

a consideration which is beyond the merely selfish

concerns are certainly social. I doubt that a de

ethic is involved in A Fable in the sense of the

fering us the way to salvation. Ilbelieve we are p

with a description of a condition, a world view which

the total condition of man as encompassing both the c

which history has imposed upon us, and the implied co

which always exists in potential and is made manifest

presence of the Corporal. But these are presented to

out a demand that we emulate either one. The dramatic

ing of the two forces, the closed and open society, or

basically, intelligent and intuitive man, and

upon coming together is done in a way that heig

essential features; Faulkner's "aloofne

of austerity throughout the novel in s

played much-heightened language. If this

neat and satisfying to one's sense of

theless is far from a sentimentalized v

Third level of the closed

difficult ce in the con

man's en

hairmM e "

gument ligion is

u t is off rning religion

If one con ergson's explana-

of th e atic religion in the closed society,

ps t of the allegorical trappings which serve

of the action can be made to appear more con-

hin a coherent, though complex, point of view.

ergson, "is a defensive reaction of nature

st issolvd powers of the intelligence (p. 194).

ing function" is actually a "virtual instinct,"

eact which has been transmitted through

because the intelligence likes representations.

on, through the myth-making faculty, manu-

tr e t exp ces" which serve to inhibit

of intell e when intx ligence may seek to wander

th hose choice is inimical to the group.


survives on the fringe of intelli ;
it cannot exercise direct action,
since intelligence works on representa-
tions, it will call up "imaginary" ones,
which will hold their own against the
representation of reality and will succee
through the agency of intelligence itself,
in counteracting the work of intelligence.
This would be the explanation of the myth-
making faculty.23

This myth-making faculty among the more sophisticated

lizations parallels superstition among the more primi(

societies. Both are products of the intelligence and s(

primarily to reinforce the social order and to allay the

of death and the unforeseeable future. Religion, then,.

forms a social function. In fact, religion is entirely4

social for Bergson.

It has always played a social role. This
part, indeed is a complex one; it varies
with time and place, but in societies
such as our own the first effect of
religion is to sustain and reinforce
claims of society.24

Thus, religion is a response, a necessary on

telligence uses to thwart itself.

A new species coming on to the scene
brings with it, in the indivisibil
of the act creating it, all the el
ments that impart life t it. The
very check of the crea im sk
which hsaress i

al It
in t e Ligen

n, the

o that the

hment to the group.

n, such as we know

er the established

n in the f i of dis-

forces the communal

has often merged with

natural involves both

different views originally

nce, althoughit springs

eseiM on of

representation which thus restores the
balance to nature's advantage is of a
religious order.26

Static religion finally becomes fused in Bergson's

with a special type of morality, a morality which becomes

more significant in historical terms, since it is t ugh

the historical perspective that custom, the basis fo

becomes ingrained in the members of the commun Static

religion, being coextensivee with custom," rein fces th

common morality, but goes even further than this owing

the instinctive push toward the social in the speci's.

What binds together the members of a
given societyis the need and determina-
tion to defend the group against other
groups and to set it above everything.
To preserve, to tighten this bond is
incontestably the aim of the religion
we have found to be natural. It is
common to the members of a group, i
associates them intimately with each
other in rites and ceremonies, it
distinguishes the group from o0 a
groups. . The fact that re on
such as it issued from the hands of
nature, has simultaneously fulfilled,
to use the language of the day, the
two functions, moral and nati o a
pears to us unquestionable.27

Practically all of the abundant religious

is Christian, and in this context his

comes associated with nationalism.

, -,- *

s en -

der e

f the


other con-

when we consider

xt chapter.

religious imagery occurs

s in A Fable. Similes which

ter ergy are numerous.

on's court martial wears a

d y any brass to the high-boned

g of linen colt backside foremost

p (p. 32). Bjet was dcribe

esertih him.

iie C IEjas "a


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