"Mule in the Yard" (Text Key 241)

short story

"Mule in the Yard" recounts how Mrs. Hait chases one of I.O. Snopes's mules around and around her house one January day until it knocks a kettle of ashes into the basement, catching her house on fire. Mrs. Hait seeks revenge later that day by swindling Snopes out of the cost of the mule and shooting it. At stake in the story is more than the contemporary battle of wills, however, as Mrs. Hait's husband previously worked with Snopes in a railroad swindle that cost Mr. Hait his life ten years earlier. Themes of revenge and ethics are at the forefront of this comedic story.
The exact date of the story is uncertain. According to Theresa Towner and James B. Carothers in Reading Faulkner: Collected Stories: "it may have been written in the late winter or early spring of 1933-34. The story was published in August 1934 by Scribner's" (133), and reprinted in "The Village" section of Faulkner's Collected Stories. This reprinting is the basis for our edition. The story was also revised and incorporated into Chapter 16 of The Town, where it is narrated by Charles Mallison. In the latter version Mr. Hait’s death occurred only three years ago, as opposed to ten as the story has it. While in the Scribner's story the year of the January day is unspecified, in The Town's version it can be dated more definitively, as it occurs the same year that Eula Varner dies: 1927.

First Publisher: 
Scribner's Magazine
First Publisher Date: 
August 1934
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Vintage International
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New York
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How to cite this resource:
Joiner, Jennie J., and Dorette Sobolewski. "Faulkner's 'Mule in the Yard.'" Added to the project: 2014. Additional editing 2019: Theresa M. Towner, Jay Watson. Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu

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