Mountain Victory

Last updated

"Mountain Victory"
Author William Faulkner
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Southern Gothic
Published in1932

"Mountain Victory" is a short story by American author William Faulkner first published in the October 12, 1932 issue of The Saturday Evening Post . The story is unusual in that it takes place outside of Faulkner's fictional city, Jefferson, Mississippi, in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha County. However, it deals with historical themes common to much of Faulkner's later work, i.e. social and racial divisions in the defeated South in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Plot summary

The story opens with the arrival of a wounded Confederate officer and his black servant at a small, hillbilly cabin high in the mountains of Tennessee. With the Civil War at an end, urbane, world-weary Major Saucier Weddell wishes only to return to his palatial mansion in Mississippi. He thinks the time for killing is over. Yet ironically, the poor whites who grudgingly allow him to stay the night in their cabin are actually pro-Union sympathizers. The oldest son, Vatch, even served for a time with the Union army. Vatch makes no secret of his hatred for rebels like Saucier Weddell, or for blacks like well-meaning, overly loquacious Jubal. When Jubal drinks too much corn liquor and passes out, Major Weddell finds himself alone, surrounded by enemies, in a land that is a part of the South and yet far removed from the grace and gentility of the great plantations. The stage is set for a tragic finale which reveals both the futility of war and the impossibility of social change.


Resistance to change

Perhaps the most recurrent theme in the story. Despite the South's catastrophic defeat and his family's fallen fortunes, Major Saucier Weddell insists on carrying on the old traditions of gentility and honor. When his slave endangers his life he has the opportunity to flee; instead he stays to protect his property. On the other hand, the mountain family stubbornly clings to its racism, backwardness, and paradoxically to its own form of honor as well. The father insists on protecting the guests from his son's wrath, and tries several times to warn the Confederate officer to leave before it is too late. By contrast, the daughter and the younger boy Hule are both enchanted by the idea of following Weddell back to Mississippi and sharing in his lavish lifestyle. Yet they too have a sense of honor. They insist that they will work hard and be loyal if he will only take them along. Even the least sympathetic character in the story, Vatch, displays some sense of honor at the end of the story, by pacing off a hundred yards before firing his long rifle at the Major and his slave.

Related Research Articles

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern states loyal to the Union and southern states that had seceded to form the Confederate States of America. The principal cause of the war was the status of slavery in the United States, especially in the territories.

Jefferson Davis President of the Confederate States

Jefferson Finis Davis was an American politician who served as the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. As a member of the Democratic Party, he represented Mississippi in the United States Senate and the House of Representatives before the American Civil War. He previously served as the United States Secretary of War from 1853 to 1857 under President Franklin Pierce.

Robert E. Lee Confederate States Army commander

Robert Edward Lee was an American Confederate general best known as a commander of the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. He led the Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 until its surrender in 1865 and earned a reputation as a skilled tactician.

William Faulkner American writer

William Cuthbert Faulkner was an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate from Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote novels, short stories, screenplays, poetry, essays, and a play. He is primarily known for his novels and short stories set in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, based on Lafayette County, Mississippi, where he spent most of his life.

Nathan Bedford Forrest Confederate Army general

Nathan Bedford Forrest was a prominent Confederate Army general during the American Civil War and the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan from 1867 to 1869. Before the war, Forrest amassed substantial wealth as a cotton plantation owner, horse and cattle trader, real estate broker, and slave trader. In June 1861, he enlisted in the Confederate Army and became one of the few soldiers during the war to enlist as a private and be promoted to general without any prior military training. An expert cavalry leader, Forrest was given command of a corps and established new doctrines for mobile forces, earning the nickname "The Wizard of the Saddle". His methods influenced future generations of military strategists, although the Confederate high command is seen by some commentators to have underappreciated his talents. Although scholars generally acknowledge Forrest's skills and acumen as a cavalry leader and military strategist, he has remained a controversial figure in Southern racial history for his main role in the massacre of several hundred Union soldiers at Fort Pillow, a majority of them black, coupled with his role following the war as a leader of the Klan.

<i>Absalom, Absalom!</i>

Absalom, Absalom! is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, first published in 1936. Taking place before, during, and after the American Civil War, it is a story about three families of the American South, with a focus on the life of Thomas Sutpen.

David Hunter

David Hunter was a Union general during the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states, for his leadership of United States troops during the Valley Campaigns of 1864, and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.

Confederate States Army Southern army in American Civil War

The Confederate States Army, also called the Confederate Army or simply the Southern Army, was the military land force of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861–1865), fighting against the United States forces in order to uphold the institution of slavery in the Southern states. On February 28, 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress established a provisional volunteer army and gave control over military operations and authority for mustering state forces and volunteers to the newly chosen Confederate president, Jefferson Davis. Davis was a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, and colonel of a volunteer regiment during the Mexican–American War. He had also been a United States Senator from Mississippi and U.S. Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. On March 1, 1861, on behalf of the Confederate government, Davis assumed control of the military situation at Charleston, South Carolina, where South Carolina state militia besieged Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, held by a small U.S. Army garrison. By March 1861, the Provisional Confederate Congress expanded the provisional forces and established a more permanent Confederate States Army.

<i>The Killer Angels</i>

The Killer Angels (1974) is a historical novel by Michael Shaara that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. The book depicts the three days of the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, and the days leading up to it: June 29, 1863, as the troops of both the Union and the Confederacy move into battle around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and July 1, July 2, and July 3, when the battle was fought. The story is character-driven and told from the perspective of various historical figures from both the Confederacy and the Union. A film adaptation of the novel, titled Gettysburg, was released in 1993.

Shelby Foote American novelist and historian

Shelby Dade Foote Jr. was an American writer, historian and journalist. Although he viewed himself primarily as a novelist, he is now best known for his The Civil War: A Narrative, a three-volume history of the American Civil War.

Lost Cause of the Confederacy Exculpatory myth concerning Confederate war aims and defeat in the American Civil War

The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, or simply the Lost Cause, is an American pseudo-historical, negationist ideology that advocates the belief that the cause of the Confederate States during the American Civil War was a just and heroic one. This ideology has furthered the belief that slavery was just and moral, because the enslaved were happy, even grateful, and it also brought economic prosperity. The notion was used to perpetuate racism and racist power structures during the Jim Crow era in the American South. It emphasizes the supposed chivalric virtues of the antebellum South. It thus views the war as a struggle primarily waged to save the Southern way of life and to protect "states' rights", especially the right to secede from the Union. It casts that attempt as faced with "overwhelming Northern aggression". At the same time, it minimizes or completely denies the central role of slavery and white supremacy in the build-up to, and outbreak of, the war.

<i>The March</i> (novel)

The March is a 2005 historical fiction novel by E. L. Doctorow. It won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction (2006) and the National Book Critics Circle Award/Fiction (2005).

<i>The Mansion</i> (novel)

The Mansion is a novel by the American author William Faulkner, published in 1959. It is the last in a trilogy of books about the fictional Snopes family of Mississippi, following The Hamlet and The Town.

The ten percent plan, formally the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, was a United States presidential proclamation issued on December 8, 1863, by United States President Abraham Lincoln, during the American Civil War. By this point in the war, the Union Army had pushed the Confederate Army out of several regions of the South, and some rebellious states were ready to have their governments rebuilt. Lincoln's plan established a process through which this postwar reconstruction could come about.

Missouri in the American Civil War

During the American Civil War, Missouri was a hotly contested border state populated by both Union and Confederate sympathizers. It sent armies, generals, and supplies to both sides, was represented with a star on both flags, maintained dual governments, and endured a bloody neighbor-against-neighbor intrastate war within the larger national war.

Alabama in the American Civil War

Alabama was central to the Civil War, with the secession convention at Montgomery, birthplace of the Confederacy, inviting other states to form a Southern Republic, during January–March 1861, and develop constitutions to legally run their own affairs. The 1861 Alabama Constitution granted citizenship to current U.S. residents, but prohibited import duties (tariffs) on foreign goods, limited a standing military, and as a final issue, opposed emancipation by any nation, but urged protection of African slaves, with trial by jury, and reserved the power to regulate or prohibit the African slave trade. The secession convention invited all slaveholding states to secede, but only 7 Cotton States of the Lower South formed the Confederacy with Alabama, while the majority of slave states were in the Union. Congress voted to protect the institution of slavery by passing the Corwin Amendment on March 4, 1861, but it was never ratified.

Mississippi in the American Civil War Overview of the role of the U.S. state of Mississippi during the American Civil War

Mississippi was the second southern state to declare its secession from the United States, doing so on January 9, 1861. It joined with six other southern slave-holding states to form the Confederacy on February 4, 1861. Mississippi's location along the lengthy Mississippi River made it strategically important to both the Union and the Confederacy; dozens of battles were fought in the state as armies repeatedly clashed near key towns and transportation nodes.

A large contingent of African Americans served in the American Civil War. 186,097 black men joined the Union Army: 7,122 officers, and 178,975 enlisted soldiers. Approximately 20,000 black sailors served in the Union Navy and formed a large percentage of many ships' crews. Later in the War, many regiments were recruited and organized as the United States Colored Troops, which reinforced the Northern side substantially in the last two years. Both Northern Free Negro and Southern runaway slaves joined the fight. Throughout the course of the war, black soldiers served in forty major battles and hundreds of more minor skirmishes; sixteen African Americans received the Medal of Honor.

Jubal Early Lawyer, politician, and general of the Confederate States Army

Jubal Anderson Early was a Virginia lawyer and politician who became a Confederate general during the American Civil War. Trained at the United States Military Academy, Early resigned his U.S. Army commission after the Second Seminole War and his Virginia military commission after the Mexican–American War, in both cases to practice law and participate in politics. Accepting a Virginia and later Confederate military commission as the American Civil War began, Early fought in the Eastern Theater throughout the conflict. He commanded a division under Generals Stonewall Jackson and Richard Ewell, and later commanded a corps. A key Confederate defender of the Shenandoah Valley, during the Valley Campaigns of 1864, Early made daring raids to the outskirts of Washington, D.C., and as far as York, Pennsylvania, but was crushed by Union forces under General Philip Sheridan, losing over half his forces and leading to the destruction of much of the South's food supply. After the war, Early fled to Mexico, then Cuba and Canada, and upon returning to the United States took pride as an "unrepentant rebel." Particularly after the death of Gen. Robert E. Lee in 1870, Early delivered speeches establishing the Lost Cause position. Early helped found the Southern Historical Society and memorial associations.

American Civil War alternate histories are alternate history fiction that focuses on the Civil War ending differently or not occurring. The American Civil War is a popular point of divergence in English-language alternate history fiction. The most common variants detail the victory and survival of the Confederate States. Less common variants include a Union victory under different circumstances from actual history, resulting in a different postwar situation; black American slaves freeing themselves by revolt without waiting for Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation; a direct British and/or French intervention in the war; the survival of Lincoln during John Wilkes Booth's assassination attempt; a retelling of historical events with fantasy elements inserted; the Civil War never breaking out and a peaceful compromise being reached; and secret history tales. The point of divergence in such a story can be a "natural, realistic" event, such as one general making a different decision, or one sentry detecting an enemy invasion unlike in reality. It can also be an "unnatural" fantasy/science fiction plot device such as time travel, which usually takes the form of someone bringing modern weapons or hindsight knowledge into the past. Still another related variant is a scenario of a Civil War that breaks out at a different time from 1861 and under different circumstances.