Hawkshaw

Text: 
Display Name: 
Hawkshaw
Sort Name: 
Hawkshaw
AKA: 
Henry Stribling
Race: 
White
Gender: 
Male
Class: 
Lower Class
Rank: 
Major
Vitality: 
Alive
Occupation: 
Sales and Service
Specific Job: 
Barber
Date of Birth: 
Thursday, January 1, 1880 to Thursday, December 31, 1885
Origin: 
Alabama
Other Texts: 
Biography: 

Although the narrator calls him Hawkshaw, the main character's real name is Henry Stribling. The narrator says that the first time he saw him, Hawkshaw looked "forty years old" and "a bachelor born" (137); at the end of the story it's thirteen years later, but Gavin Stevens says Hawkshaw is still "not much over forty-five" (147). He is the son of a tenant farmer and seems quiet, church-going, and focused on his barbering, a "little, sandy-complected man," with an unmemorable face, who often wears a "blue serge suit and a black bow tie" (137). He claims to have come from Birmingham; the narrator, on the other hand, agrees with Maxey's opinion that he "looked like he might have come from almost anywhere in Alabama except Birmingham" - which implies his rural origins (141). As we later discover, he's "a hard-worker" (138) who kept his word to pay off the mortgage on the Starneses' house. After the death of his fiancee, Sophie Starnes, he leads an itinerant life until he meets Susan Reed.

"Hawkshaw" is the nickname bestowed on him by "the young fellows" in Jefferson (141); "hawkshaw" was a slang term for detective, and also the eponymous central character in the newspaper comic strip Hawkshaw the Detective (1913-1922, 1931-1952), created by Gus Mager. According to the narrator, those "young fellows" gave him the name facetiously, because "detective" is "last thing in the world anybody would suspect him to be" (141).

Individual or Group: 
Individual
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Character