"Two Soldiers" (Text Key 2168)

short story

"Two Soldiers" first appeared in The Saturday Evening Post on March 28, 1942. It is the first of three short stories that Faulkner published in 1942 and 1943 about the Grier family of Frenchman's Bend. All three are narrated by the family's never-named younger son, who is about nine years old in all of them, but each story has its own focus and tone, from the comic ("Shingles for the Lord") to the elegaic and sentimental ("Shall Not Perish"). In "Two Soldiers" the humor of the boy's naivete is married to the heroism of his older brother Pete's patriotic determination to come to the defense of his country after the attack on Pearl Harbor - still a very current event when the story was published. (Indeed, although General MacArthur had been evacuated from the Philippines when the Post published it, the fighting there had not yet ended with the imminent American surrender, and of course in 1942 its original readers would have been very anxious about the outcome of the war that Pete enlists in.) Pete is among Faulkner's most dignified treatments of the poor farmers who populate much of Yoknapatawpha. He does not appear in the second story, "Shingles"; his death in combat provides the occasion for the last story.

The story was included in Faulkner's Collected Stories (1950), which is the basis for our re-presentation of it. It has been published since in a number of anthologies and school texts.

First Publisher: 
Saturday Evening Post
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March 28, 1942
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Edit Copy Publisher: 
Vintage International
Edit Copy Publisher Location: 
New York
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How to cite this resource:
Chancellor, Scott T., and Stephen Railton. "Faulkner's 'Two Soldiers.'" Added to the project: 2014.  Additional editing 2018: Erin Kay Penner, Christopher Rieger.  Digital Yoknapatawpha, University of Virginia, http://faulkner.iath.virginia.edu