To counterbalance the images of heat and combustion in the story, ice symbolizes relief from social oppression. However, like ice, this relief is often brief and fleeting; just as ice is a transient physical state that melts in the heat, Minnie and Will Mayes can only find momentary relief from the burning anger and judgement of the white men around them. For instance, as Minnie Cooper breaks down in a fit of uncontrollable laughter in the picture house, her friends fan her and gather “ice for her temples,” remedies that immediately calm her: “While the ice was fresh and cold she stopped laughing and lay still for a time,” briefly bringing her out of the stagnant atmosphere of Jefferson. Once the ice pack melts, however, Minnie continues to break down. Meanwhile, the mob of men notably comes to find Mayes at his workplace in an ice factory, a symbol of refuge from the racial heat of the town. Inside the ice factory, Mayes is just another employee, free to work hard to earn his pay. This cool and safe interior space is then juxtaposed with the “abandoned brick kiln,” a space of intense heat and dryness, where Jefferson’s racial hatred boils over and brings Mayes to his violent end.
Ice Quotes in Dry September
“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.