Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Murray, Don, 1917-||Ober, Warren U.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Faulkner; William; 1897-1962


One of William Faulkner’s most enigmatic characters, Gavin Stevens, seems to have different personalities just as he has different functions in the various works in which he appears. This paper attempts to determine how and why Gavin Stevens changes from one work to another. In the early works "Heir" and. Light in August. Stevens' role is that of an observer who speculates about events and motives. He is not well-delineated as a personality, an individual, until Intruder in the Dust. in which he participates in minor action and greatly influences the main character, Chick Mallison. Also, he seems to be used as Faulkner’s mouthpiece on social issues in the South. Stevens becomes a detective-type hero, an instrument of justice, in Knight’s Gambit. a collection of short stories; but he is also further developed as a complex character, especially in the title story of the collection. Faulkner uses Stevens in yet another way in Requiem for a Nun, in which Stevens seems to be a symbol of justice, a theatrical device rather than a realistic character. The Town, second novel in the Snopes trilogy, Is perhaps the best example of Stevens' versatility as a character; in this parody of the idealized romance of chivalry, Faulkner’s ironic humor is directed at Gavin as well as at the Snopeses. In addition, The Town provides more biographical material about Stevens than any previous work does, so the reader is able to get a relatively complete impression of his life. Gavin has a subordinate role In The Mansion, the final novel of the Snopes trilogy. He contributes to the tragic mood end subject of the novel because his hopeless infatuation with Eula Snopes has become an equally hopeless relationship with her daughter Linda. However, as a human being and as a character, Gavin seems to have matured; he is no longer ridiculous, as in The Town, or unrealistic, as in Requiem for a Nun. Stevens' development does not progress in an orderly and realistic manner. Instead, the character of Gavin Stevens is an integral part of each story or novel, and; as such, conforms to what is required in the individual work. The different aspects of his character are treated in an exaggerated, symbolic, or realistic manner according to the demands of plot, theme, and tone. As a character, Gavin Stevens is an adaptable tool used by Faulkner to achieve particular effects.


Includes bibliographical references.


iii, 82 pages




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