Dry September


William Faulkner

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Henry Hawkshaw Character Analysis

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:
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
). 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.”

Related Characters: Henry Hawkshaw (speaker), Will Mayes, Minnie Cooper
Page Number: 169
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 3 Quotes

“Let me out, John,” he said. “Jump out, nigger-lover,” McLendon said without turning his head.

Related Characters: Henry Hawkshaw (speaker), John McLendon (speaker), Will Mayes
Page Number: 178
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Dry September LitChart as a printable PDF.
Dry September PDF

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.
Part 1
Rumor, Reputation, and Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Racism  Theme Icon
Gender and Class Theme Icon
The barber, Henry Hawkshaw, does not believe that Mayes was involved, insisting that he is “a good nigger.” Minnie... (full context)
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
Racism  Theme Icon
Hawkshaw holds his ground and urges the other men to get the facts before doing anything,... (full context)
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
Hawkshaw continues to defend Mayes’s innocence and suggests that they gather evidence and go to the... (full context)
Part 3
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
As the day “die[s] in a pall of dust,” Henry Hawkshaw catches up to John McLendon and the other men, who are driving out to the... (full context)
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
Racism  Theme Icon
...“wan hemorrhage of the moon,” the men rush at him, then handcuff and beat him. Hawkshaw stands and watches, feeling sick to his stomach. While some of the men want to... (full context)
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
In the car, Mayes is sandwiched in the back seat next to Hawkshaw, pulling his arms and legs in to keep from touching anyone. As they speed out... (full context)
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
Hawkshaw jumps out of the moving car, rolling into the ditch along the side of the... (full context)