Manuscripts Etc.


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The following items are drawn from the William Faulkner Foundation Collection at the University of Virginia's Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library (
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“Dry September”

Faulkner wrote "Drouth" – his original title for "Dry September" – around the same time that "A Rose for Emily" was accepted for publication. The two stories explore the character of a woman who becomes what used to be called "a spinster," i.e. who does not marry. Both also use that figure to explore the southern social setting, though it's interesting to see how the focus on that society was transformed as Faulkner revised the story.

The first version, the surviving manuscript of "Drouth," begins with the woman – Miss Minnie Cooper (below left). This manuscript also includes two paragraphs at the start of the story's third section establishing the connection between South's defeat in the Civil War and the "terrible" repressive conditions under which "women" like Minnie had to live (below center).   When Faulkner prepared the extant typescript, he moved Minnie's story to section II, and began instead as the published version does, with the white men in the barbershop talking about what Will Mayes did (or didn't do) to her. At the same time he deleted the two paragraphs on the cultural and psychological consequences of defeat. These two changes shift the cultural focus from gender to race. In the first version Faulkner also gave Minnie's suitor a name. The other most interesting changes are in section IV, on page 8 of the manuscript (below right). Faulkner added and then cancelled a fairly long passage in which the white men on the Square discuss what the lynchers did to Mayes; despite the cancellation, three of these lines do appear in the published story. And his original ending for the section seems to confirm the town's assumption that the black man was guilty; the revision – "Do you suppose anything really happened?" – keeps the focus on the conditioned and brutal behavior of the white society.

Page 1, Dry September MS     Page 4, Dry September MS     Page 7, Dry September MS

      Citing this source:
Stephen Railton, "Manuscripts &c: 'Dry September,'" Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, (Date added to project: 2016)