Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

William Faulkner has woven into “Red Leaves” two stories carefully unified into one. The first is a humorous narrative of Indians honoring an outdated ritual. The treating of such serious matters as the poisoning of chiefs and the burying of men who, at least for the moment, are still alive, would suggest a lofty, solemn tone. Faulkner indeed assumes such a tone in the lofty diction of the Indians, a style suggestive of the King James Bible, and in the dutiful manner in which Basket and Berry carry out their responsibilities. However, the underlying tone is ironic: What the Indians say is not in harmony with the way they say it. Frequent references to the incongruities in the lives and persons of the three chiefs contribute to this undertone. The fact that none of them is a full-blooded Chickasaw, that the newest chief is half black but no more than one-eighth Chickasaw, raises doubts as to the legitimacy of the succession. The strong suggestions of royal poisonings confirm such suspicions. The use of a deteriorated steamboat for a palace and ill-fitting slippers for a crown reinforce the opinion that these are not legitimate chiefs; yet their credentials are impressive enough to qualify them for a dog, a horse, and a servant in the Happy Hunting Grounds. The ambiguous attitude toward the keeping of black slaves also suggests humor and irony.

The other story, the wilderness tale of a runaway slave being pursued by his Indian masters so that he can...

(The entire section is 430 words.)

Red Leaves Bibliography

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974.

Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1963.

Gray, Richard. The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography. Oxford, England: Blackwell, 1994.

Hoffman, Frederick, and Olga W. Vickery, eds. William Faulkner: Three Decades of Criticism. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1960.

Inge, M. Thomas, ed. Conversations with William Faulkner. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1999.

Labatt, Blair. Faulkner the Storyteller. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005.

The Mississippi Quarterly 50 (Summer, 1997).

Parini, Jay. One Matchless Time: A Life of William Faulkner. New York: HarperCollins, 2004.

Peek, Charles A., and Robert W. Hamblin, eds. A Companion to Faulkner Studies. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2004.

Rovit, Earl, and Arthur Waldhorn, eds. Hemingway and Faulkner in Their Time. New York: Continuum, 2005.

Singal, Daniel J. William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1997.

Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1959.

Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner: The Novels. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2003.

Volpe, Edmond L. A Reader’s Guide to William Faulkner: The Short Stories. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 2004.

Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern History. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.