Andy Griffith died today. I heard the news in the elevator returning from lunch. I thought my co-worker was putting me on when he said "Andy Griffith died." I was sort of stunned; I didn't believe him. But he was right.
In my mind, this is the analogy. Ravens at the Tower of London : England :: Andy Griffith : America.
NO one--and no show--typified America like The Andy Griffith Show did. I challenge any reader to find a single television show that more coherently or comprehensively represents American thought, culture, philosophy, or sensibility than AGS. Every "food group" of person we meet is encountered in the show: not only are they portrayed to a tee--they exhibit exactly those qualities (both tragic and comedic) that we expect--but they also are encountered almost as often as we'd encounter them in real life. Otis the town drunk, Floyd the barber, Gomer Pyle the gas station attendant, Goober Pyle . . . it's too good. They all play those traits exactly that we find everyday.
And that is why the show was America. It wasn't a kid's show, it wasn't a comedy, it wasn't a drama, it wasn't a satire. It was life. Varnished somewhat, but life. In America.
I--as a child born when it was being re-run in 1982--love it because of its humor, realism, and its downright Americana. And, of course, I love its morals. It doesn't beat its viewer over the head with preaching. It espouses common sense. You watch it, and you think that Andy spouts wisdom. Who wouldn't believe that? "OF COURSE, that's the right outcome! I'm glad it turned out that way," you say when the plot resolves itself. And you should. Because no better show was better at capturing human nature than AGS.
And I thank you, Andy Griffith, for portraying that.
Why Colonel Sartoris?
Allow me to explain the puzzling title. Colonel Sartoris is William Faulkner's greatest character. He exemplifies those values that his society cherishes, namely tradition, patriarchy, courtliness, and courage. Though modernity's slow march tries to strip him of these things, Sartoris continues to live as he always has, knowing that "the past is never dead. It's not even past." He seeks order in the honorable folkways and mores of his forbears. Let us not forget his example.