Dry September by William Faulkner is a story set back in the early 90s in a small southern town. The story revolves around how Minnie Cooper, a lonely and unhappy woman is apparently raped by a black man, known as Will Mayes and how a group of men overreact to the situation and jump to conclusions. The writer clearly portrays the racial tensions that were prevalent at the time during which the story is set, creating a picture in the readers mind about how things were back then for the Afro-American people. (Preface quote here, who says this?) “You damn niggerlover!” (170), is one of the instances where he shows how a person defending a black man was called out in public. Faulkner’s repeated use of the ‘n’ word to describe Will and the other black men living in the town emphasizes the town’s racial discrimination.
The writer also emphasizes on the month being September, connecting the incident with the hot weather making a man go crazy. ‘It’s this durn weather,’ another said. ‘It’s enough to make a man do anything. Further building the image of the old rusty southern town. The story revolves around the themes of Judgement, Accusation and Justice, which work hand in hand with one leading to the next. Faulkner brings out the theme of Judgement and Accusation as he starts the first scene at the barber’s shop where someone brings the news that Miss Minnie was raped ‘apparently’ by Will Mayes. This leads to a mob of men led by John McLendon to leave the barber’s shop to find and punish Mayes. All of this happens without having checked if Minnie’s Claim was true.
When the barber questioned McLendon about having verified the claim, Hawkshaw was accused of being a niggerlover. Following which, two people also accuse him of being a race traitor, saying, “’Then you are a hell of a white man,” and ‘Do you accuse a white woman of lying?”. Nevertheless, he tries again to stop the mob again by saying that he knew Will Mayes wasn’t that kind of a guy. ‘Boys, don’t do that. Will Mayes never done it. I know.”. On failing to stop them again, he decides to join the group thinking that he will change their minds down the road. The chase finally ends with them capturing Will and arresting him on the basis of him having committed the crime giving him no opportunity to reason.
The story has Faulkner critique the white supremist ideologies in the southern states, where there was a bias in the legal system shown by the white individuals not allowing Mayes to even defend the accusation. Faulkner is also trying to show the difference between the mob jumping to conclusions and a single man trying to defend the accusation on Will by asking the mob to follow the right course of action by going to the sheriff. Nevertheless, the chase ends with the mob capturing Mayes who was hurled at with both physical and verbal abuses in spite the submissive demeanor he posed. A few of the men were set to kill him, murmuring “Kill him! Kill the black son!” as they put Mayes into the car, the men also struck him “with random blows,” further suggesting their aim not to subdue their prisoner, but rather to satisfy their own desire to inflict violence.
Faulkner refers the men hand cuffing him to that of the black slaves put in shackles by white men forcing them to work or as an act of punishment. It is now that Hawkshaw realizes what was being planned next for Mayes, with the writer concluding the third scene with the barber jumping out of the car, showing the fact that he wanted to have no ties with what they wanted to do with Mayes next. He is strategically placed, hiding among the bushes waiting for the car to return. Which returned without Mayes clearly showing the fact that Mayes was killed by the mob. The scene continues the idea of the white supremist ideologies as the group of men that murdered Mayes will not be prosecuted and charged with murder and will walk free of the crime, also bringing out the shallow legal system and the discrimination based on race.
Though the barber fails upon stopping the mob from killing Mayes, the writer brings about the theme of Justice showing how the right thing to do is not always well-received by the majority. Nevertheless, he stood to his ground despite being the minority in terms of opinion in the group. Through the performance, using voice modulation, changing appearances and a few props, we were able to bring out the theme portrayed by the writer, showing the growing tension between the mob and the singled-out barber, who, on realizing what was coming up next decided to back off. This is done to show the fact that he was alone, and the mob could attack him too or the fact that he had to continue living in the town even after the event of hunting down Mayes occurred, putting himself in a safe position.
The scene is edited in some form by giving a character 2 roles and combing the extra men as a group focusing upon McLendon, Hawkshaw and Mayes. William Faulkner uses a combination of action, strong dialogue and symbolism bringing out the theme of Judgement and Justice. He also touches upon the white supremist ideologies that prevailed during the early Nineteen Hundreds in the southern societies. The play summarizes one of the climaxes of the story by bringing details not only from part three but also other parts of the text giving a well-rounded summary to the viewers. Both the text and the play are designed to bring out the central theme of the story.