Predatory Men in William Faulkner’s Novel, Sanctuary
William Faulkner’s novel, Sanctuary, is replete with subtlety and symbolism. En route to Old Frenchman’s Place, Temple Drake thinks of baseball players in the Saturday game she is missing as “crouching, uttering short, yelping cries like marsh-fowl disturbed by an alligator, not certain of where the danger is, motionless, poised” (37). In creating such an image of predation, Faulkner prepares the reader for Temple’s arrival at Old Frenchman’s Place —the prey/predator metaphor lending itself perfectly to Temple’s situation vis-à-vis the men there.
Throughout the novel, Faulkner portrays Temple as feline or animal-like. When she objects to Gowan Stevens driving to Lee Goodwin’s in search of alcohol, he tells her, “Don’t get your back up, now” (37); and she is constantly springing from place to place and clawing at doors or blankets, as if she were an agile and jumpy cat. When Goodwin finds her crouching in the corner of his kitchen he lifts her “by the scruff of the neck, like a kitten” (52), and Popeye similarly grips her by the back of the neck when she begins to wail in his car (138, 141).
Men in the novel are portrayed as dangerous; as the alligator is a threat to the frightened marsh-fowl, the men are a threat to the naïve Temple. Popeye is characterized as unnatural, his features being likened to inanimate objects. He is described as having “that vicious depthless quality of stamped tin” (4), his eyes are compared to “two knobs of soft black rubber” (4), and his posture is described as making him resemble “a modernist lampstand” (7). Popeye dislikes and fears nature, preferring to take the long way rather than walk through the woods at night, and being frightened by owls and dogs (7, 19). His aversion for nature underscores the threat his already menacing behavior poses to the vulnerable, animal-like Temple and to Tommy.
Tommy, who can walk through the sand with the ease of a mule (20) and “when necessary…move with that...