Much has been written about community in Yoknapatawpha; a great deal of it reads like an apology for Arcadia. Cleanth Brooks is a persistent offender:
The little town is old-fashioned and backward looking. It is suspicious of any outsiders who would disturb its life, and when it cannot expel the alien, it tries to wall him off in a kind of cultural cyst as bees enclose with waxen walls a beetle or wasp that has got inside the hive.
The activities of Jefferson, Miss., in Light in August strike me as being less benevolent than the activities of bees. However, my point is more general: even in “old fashioned” communities people do not “Know who they are and where they belong” (xviii) as of a timeless right. They know because they engage in social exchanges which substantiate or qualify their belonging.
Recently Myra Jehlen has undertaken a class-based analysis of such exchanges. In Class and Character in Faulkner's South she discovers “the living pulse” of Yoknapatawpha in its “tangled social context.” As a result, she pleads with some justification for a shift of interest towards class in Faulkner scholarship:
William Faulkner was obsessed by history … [and] he drew characters whose inner lives are essentially linings for selves tailored to unalterable social patterns.… His people's tragedy is that their interior world has been co-opted by an external world they never made and apparently no one can ever unmake, (p. 1)