One of the Southern sayings of my childhood was that “blue jays go to Hell on Fridays” (my father’s punch-line was to always, having raised this on any day but Friday, ask if any listener could specifically recall seeing a bluejay on Friday). Apparently, the part of the folk-tale I never heard was that they went to Hell to carry sand to use in the torment of the damned.
Each time I re-read The Sound and the Fury, I notice things I had not before. Some are small things– something called a hame string comes up twice, first, when Jason Compson, working in a hardware store, sells one to a farmer, who annoys Jason by taking the time to decide whether to by a 15 cent one or a 25 cent one, and then, later, when Jason catches his 17-year-old niece Quentin looking through the mail and says, “I’ll take a hame string to you. That’s what I’ll give you. Going into my papers.” I could guess, but, looking it up, I learn it’s a leather strip used in the tack of a draft animal to attach supports to the collar.
The final events of the book take place on Easter weekend in 1928. On Sunday, there’s this:
Luster went to the woodpile. The five jaybirds whirled over the house, screaming, and into the mulberries again. He watched them. He picked up a rock and threw it. “Whoo,” he said. Git back to hell, whar you belong at. ‘Taint Monday yit.”
So is Luster suggesting they spend the weekend in Hell, or that they have an extended stay on Easter?