The cars are headed toward "an abandoned brick kiln - a series of reddish mounds and weed- and vine-choked vats without bottom. McLendon's car is last, and there is one fewer man inside it. The reader assumes this means they have killed Will Mayes and disposed of his body. Miss Minnie Cooper is dressing to go out with her female neighbors, who provide her with not necessarily sincere support.
She is trembling as they approach the town square. Now, "even the young men lounging in the doorway tipped their hats and followed with their eyes the motion of her hips and legs when she passed. Not one. They arrive at the picture show, and as the movie begins, Minnie starts laughing. Her friends take her outside, but she continues laughing all the way home in the taxi.
They put her in bed and put ice on her temples, trying to calm her down. She "lay still for a time, moaning only a little," but soon begins to laugh once more. Her friends repeat, "Poor girl! Poor Minne! McLendon arrives home at midnight, and his wife has been waiting for him.
He scolds her for waiting up, and "half struck, half flung her across the chair" before taking off his shirt and exiting to the screened porch. He is sweating profusely and wipes his face and body with his shirt, removing his pistol from his hip and putting it on the bedside table.
Diction reminiscent of death and destruction is used throughout the story, creating a tone of doom even before the reader understands what is to happen to Will Mayes. The first sentence:. Through the bloody September twilight, aftermath of sixty-two rainless days, it had gone like a fire in dry grass - the rumor, the story, whatever it was. The use of the word "bloody" to describe the color of the impending darkness as the sun sets, as well as the comparison of the rumor to fire blazing through dry grass, set a dangerous tone for the story to follow.
When McLendon leads the men out of the barber shop, "The air was flat and dead. It had a metallic taste at the base of the tongue.
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As Hawkshaw chases McLendon and the gang of men, the air is described as "lifeless," and:. The day had died in a pall of dust; above the darkened square, shrouded by the spent dust, the sky was as clear as the inside of a brass bell. The words "pall" and "shrouded" recall a funeral, while the sky is described as if it is a funeral bell. As the cars barrel down the narrow road toward the brick kiln where they are about to murder Will Mayes, "their motion was like an extinct furnace blast: cooler, but utterly dead.
The men of the story often create truths from their assumptions, whether they mean to or not. When McLendon barges into the barber shop and uses the word rape, rape immediately becomes the assumed crime. On the other hand, Hawkshaw is the first to mention Will Mayes' name. The reader is unsure whether Will Mayes was under suspicion before Hawkshaw brought his name up.
Though Hawkshaw's intention was to rule him out as a culprit, the effect is that the other men seize upon the name and decide he is, in fact, the perpetrator. In this story, that which is illogical and driven by violent instinct always beats out that which is logical. For instance, when McLendon asserts that it doesn't matter whether or not anything happened between Will Mayes and Miss Minnie Cooper, rather than being stricken by the unfairness of his logic, the men seem to relate to the emotion behind the statement.
When the men arrive at the ice plant, Hawkshaw makes the very logical point that if Will Mayes is on duty, it proves he couldn't have been anywhere near Miss Minnie Cooper; however, this point is totally ignored by the other men. The turning point in the story is when Hawkshaw hits Will Mayes, after Mayes happens to slash his mouth in the struggle against the men trying to force him into the car. Up until that point, Hawkshaw had been the lone defender of Will's innocence; now, he joins the violent gang, no longer protesting, and instead follows along with the violent plan.
Anonymity is an important force in the mob violence of the story. Although Will Mayes recognizes the individual men involved in his murder, there is a mysterious voice that guides them when they arrive at the ice plant: "Kill him, kill the black son! The narrator also achieves a level of anonymous removal by revealing certain events only through outside observation, rather than by describing what actually happens.
For example, when McLendon and Butch capture Will Mayes, the narrator describes the sounds of the scuffle, but never says directly what actually happens in those moments.
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The reader has to assume that Will Mayes has been thrown down one of the brick kilns, but only because that is where the cars are headed when Hawkshaw jumps out, and because when they return they hold one fewer man. The barber Hawkshaw, appears again in Faulkner's May, short story "Hair.
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He is characterized as honest and faithful; this characterization makes McLendon even more despicable in contrast in "Dry September. It was the belief that a southern white woman could never tell a blatant lie; so any hint that she was the victim of violence or disrespect was taken as the truth, without the need of proof. Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Preview — Dry September by Shmoop. Take your understanding of Dry September by William Faulkner to a whole new level, anywhere you go: on a plane, on a mountain, in a canoe, under a tree.
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