"Lion" (Text Key 4669)

short story

"Lion" was probably written in early 1935 and was first published in Harper's magazine in December, 1935. Faulkner later substantially rewrote the story into "The Bear," Chapter 5 in Go Down, Moses (1942). In that text he reassigned the apprentice hunter's role from Quentin to Isaac McCaslin. Our representation is based on the Harper's version, as reprinted by Joseph Blotner in Uncollected Stories of William Faulkner.

Faulkner wrote and re-wrote "Lion" from the point of view of Quentin, then young Bayard Sartoris, and finally young Isaac McCaslin. Each version highlights the ultimate confrontation between the strong, independent, and courageous dog who gives the story its title and the seemingly indestructible bear. The young narrators are each privileged to be present for this epic chase, but Quentin and Bayard observe from a distance and then report on the significance and results of this hunt. Only in Go Down, Moses does the young hunter witness the climactic scene directly. In each version, however, he presents the radical consequences of the event on both Major de Spain and Boon Hogganbeck, and, implicitly, on himself.

Dating the Story: Faulkner’s hunting stories seem, in some senses, separate in time as well as in place from the usual historical contexts and biographical particulars of the privileged residents of Jefferson who are invited to participate in the annual hunt. We can only speculate about the date of the epic battle between Lion and Old Ben. The narrator recalls being "sixteen" at the time. Although the relationship between the story's Quentin and his "Father" certainly differs from the father-and-son relationships set forth in both The Sound and the Fury (1929) and Absalom. Absalom! (1936), in the absence of any other evidence in the story itself, we used Quentin's age in those novels to date the hunt in 1906. We also have to speculate about when Quentin tells the story, but he is surely quite a bit older and more mature when he does so, making a date closer to the story's 1935 publication in Harper's seem plausible.

First Publisher: 
Harper's Magazine
First Publisher Date: 
December 1935
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Vintage International
Edit Copy Publisher Location: 
New York
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How to cite this resource:
Carothers, James B., and Stephen Railton. "Faulkner's 'Lion.'" Added to the project: 2016. Additional editing 2018: John Padgett, Ben Robbins.   Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu

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