Dry September


William Faulkner

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Handcuffs Symbol Analysis

Handcuffs Symbol Icon

The handcuffs used in Will Mayes’s abduction symbolize the ongoing social and emotional enslavement of black men in this society, and the ways in which they are criminalized without reason or proof. As the angry mob of white men attempts to get Mayes into the car, an unidentified character produces the handcuffs. The mysterious origin of the handcuffs further suggests the possibility that one of the white men is a member of law enforcement, making the local authorities complicit in the extrajudicial killing of a black man. What is more, the image of a black man being shackled by a group of white men evokes images of slavery, reminding readers of its enduring legacy and of the slave-era mentality that lasted long after emancipation.

Handcuffs Quotes in Dry September

The Dry September quotes below all refer to the symbol of Handcuffs. 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 3 Quotes

“Kill him, kill the black son!” the voice murmured. They dragged the Negro to the car. The barber had waited beside the car. He could feel himself sweating and he knew he was going to be sick at the stomach. “What is it, captains?” the Negro said. “I ain't done nothing. ‘Fore God, Mr John.” Someone produced handcuffs.

Related Characters: Will Mayes (speaker), John McLendon
Related Symbols: Ice, Handcuffs
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
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Handcuffs Symbol Timeline in Dry September

The timeline below shows where the symbol Handcuffs appears in Dry September. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 3
Vigilante Justice Theme Icon
Racism  Theme Icon
...McLendon’s insistence. Under the “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... (full context)