What is the point of view in "Dry September" by William Faulkner?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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With regard to William Faulkner's short story, "Dry September," to identify point of view, it is important to be able to differentiate between the several kinds that authors may use.

There are four kinds of point of view. The first is "first person," when the story is told using "I." Another kind is the "omniscient narrator" who knows all, including the inner-workings of the characters, exposing thoughts and feelings. The third form is "limited omniscient narrator," told from the third-person point of view, from one character's viewpoint, told using he, she, they, etc. The final type of point of view is the "objective point of view." This form:

presents the action and the characters' speech, without comment or emotion. The reader has to interpret them and uncover their meaning.

Throughout the story, as the reader waits to learn of Will Mayes' fate and the truth surrounding Miss Minnie's allegations against the innocent Mayes, we are simply given the facts from an objective observer. We are not given insight into the internal thoughts or feelings of any character. What we learn about each is what we see or hear.

In this case, even as McClendon returns home, after the horrible deed of either killing, or beating and leaving Mayes to die somewhere, we would anticipate some answers from McClendon's character. Once again, all we learn is that he doesn't really care about the safety of the women in his town: we see this in his physical abuse of his wife, but we learn no more than what we witness. He is a "war hero" who is simply concern with keeping the blacks in their place, and demonstrating his ability to exercise his power of a white man over a black man, regardless of the "truth."

"Look at that clock," he said, lifting his arm, pointing. She stood before him her face lowered, a magazine in her hands. Her face was pale, strained, and weary-looking. "Haven't I told you about sitting up like this, waiting to see when I come in?"

"John," she said. She laid the magazine down. Poised on the balls of his feet, he glared at her with his hot eyes, his sweating face.

"Didn't I tell you?" He went toward her. She looked up then. He caught her shoulder. She stood passive, looking at him.

"Don't, John. I couldn't sleep . . . The heat; something. Please, John. You're hurting me."

"Didn't I tell you?" He released her and half struck, half flung her across the chair, and she lay there and watched him quietly as he left the room.

This all supports that the story is told from the objective point of view. No information is provided so that we may know more or judge the characters other than what we see and hear. We are left to draw our own conclusions.

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