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Flags in the Dust:

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The following editions of Flags in the Dust are available for purchase online:

Flags in the Dust (Vintage Paperback Edition) Flags in the Dust

Vintage Books


ISBN: 0394712390

Published 1974


Published August 22, 1973, by Random House.

Flags in the Dust was Faulkner’s first novel to be set in Yoknapatawpha County (though called “Yocona” in the novel), but it would not be published in its original form during Faulkner’s lifetime because he could not find a willing publisher. Finally released in a drastically cut form as Sartoris in 1929, the manuscript for Flags lay dormant until it was restored and published under the editorial direction of Douglas Day in 1973.

The novel is set just after World War I and focuses largely on the aristocratic Sartoris family, a once-powerful and influential family who must now contend with inevitable decline and impending death. The novel continually juxtaposes military exploits in two wars: the Civil War, in which Colonel John Sartoris looms as a larger-than-life cavalry officer for the handful of men and women who remember him, and the Great War, in which the two youngest Sartorises, the twins Bayard and John, both served as air aces, a service in which John lost his life. In quiet contrast to the Sartorises’ wanton recklessness is Horace Benbow, who went to the war not as a soldier but as a member of the YMCA, and his sister Narcissa, who eventually marries Bayard and bears him a son despite her reservations about his self-destructive tendencies.

Flags in the Dust is significant as Faulkner’s first extensive foray into the people and history of Yoknapatawpha County, offering glimpses into many of the themes and characters (such as the Snopes, one of whom appears in a minor role as a would-be suitor for Narcissa) that would dominate his fiction for the remainder of his career.

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How to cite this page (MLA style):

Padgett, John B. “Flags in the Dust: Commentary.” William Faulkner on the Web.

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Copyright © 1995 – 2008 by John B. Padgett.
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