Dry September questions and answers
Q. 1. Give a brief introduction to the character of Henry Hawkshaw.
Ans. We are introduced to the character of Henry Hawkshaw in the short story “Dry September” by William Faulkner. Henry Hawkshaw, also known as Hawk, is one of the barbers of Jefferson, a mild-mannered white man. The barber shop is one of the central gathering places for men in the town, and “Dry September” opens with Hawkshaw discussing the rumors about Minnie Cooper and Will Mayes with his fellow barbers and their customers. Hawkshaw vehemently defends Mayes, showing himself to be principled and rational in contrast to the blind racial hatred of the other men in the shop.
He argues that he knows Mayes and believes that he would not attack a white woman, and that Minnie is a middle-aged unmarried woman who might be prone to exaggeration. This discussion leads to a confrontation between Hawk and John McLendon, in which McLendon questions Hawk’s virtue as a white man. Eventually, the other men leave with McLendon in an angry mob, intent on finding Mayes and killing him. Hawkshaw reluctantly joins the men in an attempt to keep them from hurting Mayes, but he ends up jumping from a moving vehicle and walking back to town in defeat. Hawkshaw’s trajectory illustrates the near-impossibility of combating racial hate with reason, as well as the loneliness of dissent in small-town America.
Q. 2. Give a brief introduction to the character of Will Mayes.
. Ans. We are introduced to the character of Will Mayes in the short story “Dry September” by William Faulkner. Will Mayes is a black man who lives in Jefferson, works at the ice factory, and has been accused of sexually assaulting a white woman, Minnie Cooper. It is unclear whether the rumor is true, and Mayes seems genuinely confused when confronted with an angry mob of white men who are out to kill him. Henry Hawkshaw knows Will, vouches for his character, and believes he is innocent; there will be no way to find out the truth, however, because the men in the barber shop have already decided on his guilt.
As a black man in Jefferson, Mayes’s word is worth next to nothing, and not a single person bothers to ask him about the incident. This character evokes a good deal of sympathy: he is diligently working at the ice factory on a Saturday night, and when the mob of men drags him out to the car, he maintains a deferential manner right up until he is handcuffed and beaten. Even the one man who believes him to be innocent is unable to help him; as Mayes calls to Hawkshaw for help, the barber jumps from the car to escape the imminent violence. Mayes’s implied death is emblematic of the powerlessness of black men in this society, and in fact the rumor of his murder sends such a strong message to the black men of Jefferson that they are completely absent from public areas of town that evening.
Q. 3. Give a brief introduction to the character of John Mc Lendon.
Ans. We are introduced to the character of John McLendon in the short story “Dry September” by William Faulkner. John McLendon is described as having commanded troops in France and is considered a war hero and man of action around Jefferson. There is no mention of his current occupation, and it appears that it does not matter much, as he is entirely defined by his wartime heroism. He lives in Jefferson with his wife, and while he is publicly viewed as a man of valor, within the walls of his home, McLendon is verbally and physically abusive with his wife, embodying the hypocrisy at the center of “Dry September.”
McLendon bursts into the barber shop at the beginning of the story in order to recruit men to help him retaliate against Will Mayes for what he may or may not have done to Minnie Cooper. While some of the other men, including Henry Hawkshaw, suggest that they should gather facts and go to the authorities, McLendon questions their reputations as white men tasked with upholding the status quo. He gathers a mob of angry men and, with the gun he has tucked in his waistband, abducts Mayes and brings him to a secluded area to kill him….
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Dry September questions and answers Dry September questions and answers Dry September questions and answers