The Other Victim in William Faulkner’s Dry September

Powerful Essays
The Other Victim in William Faulkner’s Dry September

William Faulkner’s short story "Dry September" deals with a lynching of a black man, Will Mayes, wrongly accused of attacking a white woman, Minnie Cooper. But Mayes is not the only victim in this short story. Minnie Cooper is also a victim in "Dry September." Minnie is as much a victim of the social standards and practices of southern society as Willie Mayes is. While "Dry September" may seem to be just a story about how a black man is wrongly condemned to death, it is also about the moral and social demise of a woman who is no longer valued in society. Minnie Cooper lives in a society that has no more place for old maids than it has for black men, and that makes her just as much a victim as Willie Mayes. In Faulkner in Cultural Context, Anne Goodwyn says that Minnie had no choice but to create a lie because, "Minnie’s world, offering no alternatives, encouraged Minnie to consent to, even create, her own victimization in the interests of consolidating white control" (45).

The structure of the story itself points to the importance of Minnie Cooper. She is dealt with more in the text of "Dry September" than Willie Mayes is. "Dry September" is divided up into five sections. The first section takes place in the barbershop, where the men decide to get Willie back for "raping" Minnie. The second section deals directly with Minnie, her life, what she does, and how she is being ignored by society. The third section deals with the lynching of Willie. However, in this section Willie’s thoughts and feelings are not made known to us. Instead the readers get an account of what happens up to the point where Hawshaw jumps out of the car. The fourth section again deals with Minnie, how...

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...n Minnie accuses Willie of rape she finally gets attention from society, which is all she wanted in the first place.

Works Cited

Faulkner, William. "Dry September." A Norton Anthology: The Literature of the American South. Ed. William L. Andrews. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998.

Ferguson, James. Faulkner’s Short Fiction. The University of Tennessee Press; Knoxville. 1991.

Harrington, Evans and Ann J. Abadie, eds. Faulkner and The Short Story. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson and London. 1992.

Kartiganer Donald M. and Ann J. Abadie, eds. Faulkner and Gender. University Press of Mississippi. Jackson. 1996.

Kartiganer, Donald M. and Ann J. Abadie, eds. Faulkner in Cultural Context. University Press of Mississippi: Jackson. 1997.

Roberts, Diane. Faulkner and Southern Womanhood. University of Georgia Press: Athens and London. 1994.
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