Dry September (Faulkner)

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Dry September
Summary of the Short Story
Microsummary: A group of men, believing a rumor about a black man assaulting a white woman, took matters into their own hands and violently attacked the accused man, despite some doubts about the truth.

In a small town, a rumor spread about an incident involving Miss Minnie Cooper, a white woman, and Will Mayes, a black man.

Miss Minnie Cooper — unmarried woman in her late thirties; haggard, bright manner and dress; subject of the rumor.
Will Mayes — black man; night watchman at the ice plant; falsely accused of assaulting Miss Minnie.

The townspeople gathered in a barber shop, discussing the situation. The barber, who knew both Miss Minnie and Will, doubted the truth of the rumor and defended Will's character. However, some of the townspeople, led by a man named McLendon, were determined to take matters into their own hands.

John McLendon — leader of the vigilante group; aggressive, hot-headed, and violent; former soldier.

Despite the barber's pleas for reason and caution, McLendon and a group of men went to find Will Mayes. They found him at his workplace, handcuffed him, and forced him into a car. The barber, fearing for Will's safety, tried to intervene but was ultimately unsuccessful. The group of men drove Will away, leaving the barber to limp back to town alone.

Wont you take a white woman's word before a nigger's?

Meanwhile, Miss Minnie Cooper, still shaken from the alleged incident, went out with her friends to a movie. However, she was unable to control her laughter during the film, drawing attention and concern from those around her. Her friends took her home and put her to bed, speculating about the truth of the incident and expressing sympathy for her.

Poor girl! Poor Minnie!

Later that night, McLendon returned home to his wife, who had been waiting up for him. He berated her for not obeying his orders to go to bed and physically assaulted her before going to bed himself. The story ends with a sense of unease and tension, as the consequences of the townspeople's actions and the truth of the rumor remain uncertain.