Benbow family

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Characters in Faulkner's fiction, figure prominently in Sartoris and Sanctuary. In the former novel, Horace (“Horry”) Benbow and his sister Narcissa (“Narcy”) Benbow are introduced as members of an old but less extensive and less important family than the Sartoris clan, to which they are related. Horace comes home to Jefferson in 1919 from World War I, a lawyer by training and a lonely man, seeking tranquillity in art and poetry. Partly to escape his possessive sister he drifts into an affair with the coarse Belle Mitchell, whom he marries when she gets a divorce. Narcissa marries young Bayard Sartoris, also recently returned from the war and himself disoriented, but her resentment of his indrawn desperation and her exasperation at the recklessness of Sartoris men become an expression of deep-seated resentment of men generally. Bayard abandons her and on the day of his death in a plane crash in 1920 she gives birth to a son, naming him Benbow Sartoris, as if to fend off the destructiveness she associates with the Sartoris family name. In Sanctuary Horace becomes aware of Belle's shallow nature, leaves her, and gets enmeshed with bootleggers, idealistically defending one against a false murder charge. The widowed Narcissa, concerned for her social position, wants Horace to return to Belle, and contrives to thwart his handling of the case so that he loses it. The Benbows disappear from direct involvement in Faulkner's work after Sanctuary, although they are mentioned in Absalom, Absalom! and The Unvanquished.

Subjects: Literature.

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