The Way We Were
Not too long ago, in an America plagued by the effects of the Civil War, people were different; they had different attitudes and beliefs that today are seen as primitive. These beliefs, however, dominated the mindset of particular groups of people. Seen not more by any group other than white southerners, William Faulkner’s Dry September emphasizes the role of racial war and segregation in the early-to-mid-1900s. Faulkner, a Mississippi native, uses characters’ dialogue and a narration to display thoughts and motivations of the time. Through the multiple characters, a questionable situation, and key elements of the time period, Faulkner is able to show justice and its justification in a rural southern society.
Dry September, as short as it is, has a cast of characters that all play into the story either supporting the climax or not; the climax being the death of Will Mayes. The story opens in a barbershop in Jefferson Mississippi the first dialogue of the story coming from a local barber, Henry. “Except it wasn’t Will Mayes… I know Will Mayes. He’s a good nigger. And I know Miss Minnie Cooper, too.” Henry is a thin, middle aged man who, at the time of the story, had lived in Jefferson his entire life. He is a fair minded man, seeing through his personal stance on Will Mayes, who is accused of raping a middle-class white woman. Henry refuses to take part in the mob, but goes along with them to try and change their mind. He argues the point that the woman in question, Minnie Cooper, is alone and lonely. He suggests it was consensual, but when he realizes his efforts fall short of relieving Mayes of his accusations, he gives up and asks to go home. Henry is a cowardly man, not wanting to insinuate violence, but not standing up for what he believes in. He begs the cry for justice but is unable, or unwilling, to do anything further. “The barber (Henry) began to tug furiously at the door. ‘Look out there!’ the soldier said, but the...
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