Study Guide

Dry September Language and Communication

By William Faulkner

Language and Communication

"I just know and you fellows know how a woman who never—" (1.14)

This is an interesting line. It shows how difficult it is for Hawkshaw to express why he believes so strongly in Will's innocence other than by saying something nasty about Minnie. He stereotypes her in an effort to save Will.

[T]he sitting and lounging men did not even follow her with their eyes anymore. (2.5)

It's hard to know if this if this line is meant to be from Minnie's perspective, or if it's an observation by the narrator, or both. So we have to keep all possibilities open. Say it does come from Minnie. Does this prove she's the rumor starter, as some critics imply, or is she just expressing a common anxiety – that of being unattractive?

"[I]f he's here, dont that prove he never done it?" (3.11)

Even as they near the ice plant, Hawkshaw tries to use reason and argument to get through to the vigilante mob. It doesn't work, because they don't care if Will is guilty or not. Is there some other method of communication Hawkshaw could have used which might have been effective? If so, what?

"Mr. Henry," the N**** said.

In "Writing Style," we discuss the power of Faulkner's minimalism in the story. This is a great example. These two words, spoken by Will in attempt to stop Hawkshaw ("Mr. Henry") from leaving him, express much about how Will is feeling and how he feels about Hawkshaw.

"Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!" (4.9)

The closest thing Minnie gets to a line in the story is the laughing/screaming business. But her friends try to stifle even that. The line communicates the repression clouding Jefferson, a place where human impulses and expressions of weakness, grief, or anguish are stifled for the sake of so-called respectability.