Henry Hawkshaw, also known as Hawk, is one of the barbers of Jefferson, a mild-mannered white man. The barber shop is one of the central gathering places for men in the town, and “Dry September” opens with Hawkshaw discussing the rumors about Minnie Cooper and Will Mayes with his fellow barbers and their customers. Hawkshaw vehemently defends Mayes, showing himself to be principled and rational in contrast to the blind racial hatred of the other men in the shop. He argues that he knows Mayes and believes that he would not attack a white woman, and that Minnie is a middle-aged unmarried woman who might be prone to exaggeration. This discussion leads to a confrontation between Hawk and John McLendon, in which McLendon questions Hawk’s virtue as a white man. Eventually, the other men leave with McLendon in an angry mob, intent on finding Mayes and killing him. Hawkshaw reluctantly joins the men in an attempt to keep them from hurting Mayes, but he ends up jumping from a moving vehicle and walking back to town in defeat. Hawkshaw’s trajectory illustrates the near-impossibility of combating racial hate with reason, as well as the loneliness of dissent in small-town America.
Henry Hawkshaw Quotes in Dry September
The Dry September quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Hawkshaw or refer to Henry Hawkshaw. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Dry September published in 2015.).
Part 1 Quotes
“Except it wasn't Will Mayes,” a barber said. He was a thin, sand-colored man with a mild face, who was shaving a client. “I know Will Mayes. He's a
good nigger. And I know Miss Minnie Cooper, too.”
Henry Hawkshaw Character Timeline in Dry September
The timeline below shows where the character Henry Hawkshaw appears in Dry September. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.