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Hair. William Faulkner - Essay Example

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Hair is a tightly organized short story which explores the behavior of a lonely man in the context of a Southern small town community. The narrative voice is that of an observer, a man of the same sort of social and educational level as the other participants in the story, who questions the characters, and picks up odd pieces of information in his life as a traveling salesman…
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Hair. William Faulkner
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Download file to see previous pages His detachment from the events narrated allows him to be a compassionate and sensitive commentator, whose views we feel we can trust, even though Faulkner misleads us at the end. He seems to understand Hawkshaw's attachment to the girl, and even treats her premature sexual adventures with sympathy rather than disgust: "nature don't pay any attention to systems, let alone women paying any attention to them I say she couldn't help herself. It wasn't her fault" (133-4).
The story is in three parts, the second explaining the first by retreating in time, and the third bringing about the dnouement. Hawkshaw is presented as an isolated figure in a community, which the critic Joseph Reed identifies as being a key motif in Faulkner stories. "Faulkner without a group is without a point of reference essential for his most effective narrative" (Reed, 20). The group varies from story to story; it can be a family, or a particular social grouping, or, as in Hair, a whole town. Hawkshaw is quietly kind to the girl, and is so self-effacing that when he insists that "I'll tend to her", Maxey tells the narrator "that was the first time he ever heard him speak positive about anything" (132). The girls' growth is captured with fine economy. She walks "fast like little girls do", then makes friends at school and passes "not looking toward the window at all" (132), so that Hawkshaw's devotion to her is already under threat. Soon "she got grown fast" (133) and she is hitching up "the regular simple gingham and such dresses that a thirteen-year-old child ought to wear" (134). Hawkshaw has given her presents, including the doll which he "never told" anyone about (133), but it seems to be clear to everyone that his interest in her is not unhealthy. It is appreciated that there is a genuine love in his attitude, which is respected by the others. When the men talk of how she has gone to the bad, "it was while Hawkshaw was not there" (134), and when Maxey does voice his crude suspicions - "Any old man that will fool with a young girl, he's pretty bad" - Matt's comment is a reprimand: the reason is a moral one, "he thinks she is too young to receive jewelry from anybody that aint kin to her" (136).
Part II fills in Hawkshaw's past, and lets us a little way into his true thinking, showing that his interest in the girl must be serious, heartfelt and deeply human. He had married the Starnes daughter, showing a real devotion to her and her welfare, learning barbering and going off to work in Birmingham, "Rode part of the way in wagons and walked the rest, coming back each summer to see the girl" (138). He spent all his savings on her father's funeral, and then started saving again for the marriage. He acted out of mature devotion. The narrator cannot convey Hawkshaw's grief when she dies. We only have the immensely touching detail of the picture and the lock of hair, which "both got lost, the hair and the picture, in the mail somehow" (139). He devotes himself then to serving her memory in the only way he can, by paying off the mortgage on the parents' house and returning every April, as on a pilgrimage, to clean it The April "vacation" is utterly essential to him, like a religious observance. At previous employers' he had given up his job ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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