"Raid" (Text Key 2082)

short story

"Raid" is a Faulknerian adventure story filled with deception, drama, and even blind luck. The story first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on November 3rd, 1934. It followed "Ambuscade" and "Retreat" as the third in the series of stories Faulkner was writing at this time about the Civil War and Yoknapatawpha as seen through the eyes of a young Bayard Sartoris. In 1938 Faulkner published revised versions of these three stories in addition to four others as the novel The Unvanquished.

Most of "Raid" takes place outside Yoknapatawpha. Bayard and his best friend and slave Ringo accompany Rosa (Granny) Millard on a treasure hunt to reclaim the family's silver, which was confiscated by the Union troops who burned the Sartoris plantation house in "Retreat" (1934). The focus of the story is on their journey to and from the Yankee encampment in Tennessee and the comic misunderstanding by which Rosa ends up with a lot more than she went looking for, but it also raises broader issues such as the fate of former slaves who travel at night towards the Union Army in search of "Jordan" and of freedom. The story addresses the changing realities for African Americans in the South after emancipation but before the surrender. Legally, the Emancipation Proclamation freed all people in bondage in the rebellious States on January 1st, 1863, the year in which Faulkner's story takes place; but the story itself gives no indication that this was known to the African American population of Mississippi and Alabama. When Rosa tells a large group of blacks who have made it behind Union lines to return "home" to their owners, they seem to obey her, although we do not find out if in fact they do. Also noteworthy in this story is the representation of Union soldiers in contrast to the consequences of total war. Faulkner portrays them mostly as courteous and respectful in their interactions with Rosa, belying Confederate stereotypes of them. Yet their deeds were less cavalier: on their journey, Rosa and the boys travel through a devastated landscape where piles and piles of ashes mark the locations of once impressive mansions brought down by the Union Army. Ironically, only the slave quarters remain, which now house the landed gentry.

Joseph Blotner reprinted the original magazine version of "Raid" in William Faulkner: Uncollected Stories. That is the version on which our edition is based.

First Publisher: 
Saturday Evening Post
First Publisher Date: 
November 3, 1934
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Vintage International
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New York
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How to cite this resource:
Chancellor, Scott T., and Dorette Sobolewski. "Faulkner's 'Raid.'" Added to the project: 2015.  Additional editing 2020: Johannes H. Burgers, Theresa M. Towner. Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu