Response to the Faulkner Short Stories In each of these stories, Faulkner communicates to the reader through very strange characters. In "Was", we hear of a story that basically stems around a runaway slave. The two Uncles are very stereotypical. The other owner was also very stereotypical. Basically, in this story, the white men are trying to apprehend a slave that has run off to see his girl. However, the story then progresses into a standoff between the white owners.
They bet each other on very arbitrary matters until finally, though the previous bets did hold some weight, the men turn to a deck of cards to settle their disputes. The ironic aspect of all of this is that they end up betting on the lives of the slaves. So, in order to prove their superiority over each other, they use their slaves as leverage. This was one of the times I felt that Faulkner was trying to illustrate the fact that these people seemed hopelessly lost in the old Southern way. What was also very interesting though is that they seemed to treat the slaves fairly humanely. First of all, if a slave had run off in early times, they probably would have beaten him or killed him.
Here though, it is a kind of game. It's a race to see who can get him first. Faulkner also throws into the story the woman who seems to be in love with one of the uncles. This too, was very clever because the new "southern Belle" was also being communicated to the reader. The Uncles though, are bachelors, perhaps signifying the dying southern gentleman, who is unable to deal with his past, and who will lead his genre of people to extinction.
All in all, I liked this story. I didn't see Faulkner as a racist and I didn't see any of his characters being racist either. What stood out to me was that this was the way of life for these people during this time. He communicated the complex relationships that white landowners had, and showed th humorous aspect of their lives, gambling, racing, and betting on anything to prove their superiority. The next story was also very strange. Here though, Faulkner's' attitudes, or at least that of his characters, seem very racist.
I thought this was in direct contrast to the other stories. Here, all the poor widower does is leave work to go to a bar. The bartender though, won't even fill up his jug. In fact, he tries to reclaim the jug from him and ends up fighting with him. The cops too, at the end of the story, seem to hold very low opinions of the black people. They aren't even able to restrain their actions.
One thing that stood out though was the passage that Faulkner writes as the team in shackles tries to subdue Rider. The image he creates, a black mass of arms and legs struggling to apprehend Rider, seemed very racially insensitive. However, this is contrasted in the way he describes Rider working, eating, and suffering. Even when he is digging the grave in the beginning, the feeling Faulkner communicates to the reader seems to be not so much pro-black, but very complimentary.
Their form, work ethic, and bodies are all portrayed in very descriptive and envious language. The story here though, was not quite as interesting as the others. Personally, I felt that this was just a story to show his audience that he could write about blacks successfully, and still retain his Southern attitude. It was a very interesting blend that worked for against the attitudes that seem to govern his writing. Finally, I really enjoyed the last story.
Here Faulkner seems to be communicating to the reader that just because the South has fallen, the attitudes and styles continue on. In particular, that coming of age is still important and that with the last line, it of course supercedes the failing South. I really enjoyed the way he used suspense in this piece too. If you have ever been hunting before, you know the feeling you get when you see that giant buck approaching and Faulkner really captured it nicely. I also enjoyed the story because I could actually follow one of Faulkner's twisted works.
A story of a father, who isn't really the father of his son, who is really just an orphan, who desperately wants to become a man so he can go hunting like everyone else in the family and really just wants to get his first real kill. Unfortunately, we know the father is going to die soon. So, I felt that this piece was aimed to ask the reader if the ideal will live on. I think it will, because the last line illustrates to the reader that the son will eventually get to take his son out and eventually will be able to pass on the same knowledge and teach his son in the same way he was taught. Now that the plot summaries are over, I thought I would focus on an aspect of Faulkner's work that really seemed to encompass all of the pieces. This aspect, that I find very fascinating, is that all of Faulkner's' characters seem to have low education.
Further, their education is communicated in their colloquial speech. However, this doesn't deter Faulkner from writing very complex stories that reflect his literary prowess. Most of his characters can hardly speak correct English, and yet, his pieces are filled with words that even I have trouble discerning meaning from. In particular, Rider's character is very blue collar. Faulkner communicates this to us in many ways, but has no trouble throwing in phrases like "the juncture less back loop of times trepan." This occurs throughout all of these stories. It is like the characters are very natural, they know the environment, the have the skills to hunt, they work hard, and they love each other.
But these ideas are contrasted by his writing style and complexity and really blend nicely to create very good pieces of literature. It was just one thing that caught my eye in reading these pieces and I am very envious of this skill he possesses.