"Shall Not Perish" (Text Key 247)

short story

"Shall Not Perish" is the second story Faulkner wrote at the start of World War II about the Grier family of Frenchman's Bend. It is a kind of sequel to the first, "Two Soldiers," in which Pete Grier, the older son, decides to enlist in the Army after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. "Shall Not Perish" begins with the rest of the family learning of Pete's death in the Pacific; like his service, his sacrifice gives Faulkner a patriotic occasion to affirm America's unvanquished courage and resolve. Both stories are narrated by Pete's unnamed younger brother, though his perspective in the second story seems implausibly adult. Faulkner took the title from the last line of Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," a source that suggests how "Shall Not Perish" dramatizes the nation's need and ability to transcend divisive categories like Yankee and Confederate in order to unite in the face of an external enemy. Class divisions are similarly healed when the poor mother of the first son of Yoknapatawpha to die in the war shares her grief with the rich father of the second casualty.
After being rejected by eight other magazines, "Shall Not Perish" was finally published in the July-August 1943 "War Story Issue" of Story magazine, which paid Faulkner $25 for it. By that time his third and last story about the Griers, "Shingles for the Lord," had already been published. As a "trilogy" of sorts, these tales about a Frenchman's Bend family can be contrasted in interesting ways with the Snopes trilogy; the first novel of that trilogy, The Hamlet, appeared in 1940.

First Publisher: 
Story Magazine
First Publisher Date: 
July-August 1943
Page Start: 
Page Stop: 
Edit Copy Publisher: 
Vintage International
Edit Copy Publisher Location: 
New York
Edit Copy Publisher Date: 
Search DIsplay Order: 
Other Resources: 
Publication Date: 

How to cite this resource:
Chancellor, Scott T., and Stephen Railton. "Faulkner's 'Shall Not Perish.'" Added to the project: 2014.  Additional editing 2020: Theresa M. Towner; 2022: Christopher Rieger. Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu