Study Guide

Dry September Justice and Judgment

By William Faulkner

Justice and Judgment

"Find out the truth first. I know Will Mayes. (1.19)

Hawkshaw has stepped forward as a character witness for Will. At this point, he simply proposes that they investigate before jumping to any conclusions.

"Lets get the sheriff and do this thing right." (1.40)

Here Hawkshaw suggests that the matter be handled through the legal justice system. But, for McLendon the important thing is showing the community that even rumors of black man abusing a white woman won't be tolerated. Legal process would only slow down the wheels of the justice he thinks he is serving.

[D]uring the over-the-way Christmas visiting they would tell her about him, about how well he looked […] (2.4)

Minnie is considered an adulteress and taunted about her relationship with the banker, but the banker is celebrated for his bachelor Christmas partying, and suffers no social stigma as a result of their relationship. Where is the justice in that?

"White folks, captains, I aint done nothing: I swear 'fore God."

McLendon reacts to Will's oath with impatience. All he wants is to get Will in the car so he can get on with things. In the barber shop scene he admitted he didn't care if Will was innocent, or not. For McLendon, justice is making an example of Will, not in judging his guilt or innocence.

The barber climbed back on the road and limped on toward town. (4.34)

Some readers judge Hawkshaw harshly for jumping from the car, even after Will begged him to stay. Of course, it's hard to say why exactly he does jump, and hard to say what would have happened if he had stayed in the car. What would you have done if you were Hawkshaw?

"That's the one: see? The one in pink in the middle." (4.3).

This moment, where Minnie is on display in the town square, dramatizes the extremely judgmental structure of Jefferson. Everybody in Jefferson watches everybody else's every movement, waiting for some sign of sign of deviance to harp on.