"Delta Autumn" (Text Key 2090)

short story

"Delta Autumn" was published in Story magazine's May-June 1942 issue, after higher paying literary magazines rejected it. In revised form the story also appeared as the penultimate chapter in Go Down, Moses, published in the same month. In revising the story, Faulkner brought its racial theme into Ike's family: Don Boyd's character is changed to Roth Edmonds, Ike's cousin; and Roth and the unnamed young woman he has a child with are both the great-great-grandchildren of Ike's grandfather, the first Yoknapatawpha McCaslin, though she descends through the African-American side of the family. In both versions of the story, Ike, who learned his values from the half-Indian half-Negro Sam Fathers, is unable to accept the idea of intermarriage between black and white.

"Delta Autumn" uses Ike's long life span, experience, and observations to explore "what people call progress" (275). The story is also set against the backdrop of World War II. Ironically, the characters are concerned with the threat Hitler poses to Europe and possibly the U.S. without considering the role they are playing in America's destruction (i.e. depleting natural resources and adhering to racist ideologies). Thus, the story juxtaposes racial anxieties along with the anxieties associated with the disappearance of nature and her wilderness.

Joseph Blotner republished the magazine version of "Delta Autumn" in his edition of the Uncollected Stories. That text is the basis for our edition.

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Story Magazine
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May-June, 1942
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Vintage International
Edit Copy Publisher Location: 
New York
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How to cite this resource:
Denton, Ren, and Stephen Railton. "Faulkner's 'Delta Autumn.'" Added to the project: 2015.   Additional editing 2018: Theresa M. Towner, and Stephen Railton.  Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu

Associate Editors: