Faulkner's Short Stories By William Faulkner Summary and Analysis: "That Evening Sun" Section III

Nancy tries to drink some coffee, but she is so terrified of her husband and his razor that she cannot swallow. When she tells Dilsey, "Wont no nigger stop him," Dilsey agrees, which is the first personal acknowledgment that Nancy's fears are justified. Mr. Compson appears to recognize Nancy's fears, but because of his wife, he is trapped as to how much he can help her. For example, he would allow Nancy to continue to sleep in the Compson house, but Mrs. Compson, selfish and bigoted, says, "I cant have Negroes sleeping in the bedrooms."

The Compsons' conversation, besides reaffirming Mrs. Compson's bigotry, juxtaposes again the worlds of the adults and children. When Mrs. Compson wonders why the law cannot do anything to stop Jesus, Caddy asks, "Are you afraid of father, mother?" Acting like a child herself, Mrs. Compson fails to understand Nancy's fear, nor can she comprehend being left alone again while Mr. Compson escorts Nancy home. In the single instance in which Mr. Compson stands up for Nancy, he tells his wife dryly, "You know that I am not lying outside with a razor."

Nancy's fear and anxiety are so great that she cannot even hold a cup, and deep, rumbling noises emanate from her body. Again, she makes sounds that foreshadow those she will make in the last section of the story, and Faulkner uses the same phrases that he does at the end of the story to characterize these sounds: "She began to make the sound again, not loud. Not singing and not unsinging."

Not wanting to walk home alone, Nancy begs the children to accompany her, but she cannot convince Jason to go with her. Caddy maintains that Jason is too scared and will tell their parents. Ironically, he agrees to go simply because of his sister's accusations. As they walk to the cabin, Nancy talks to the children in a very loud voice, hoping that if Jesus is close by, he will think that Mr. Compson is with them. Caddy cannot understand why Nancy speaks loudly or why she calls Jason "Mr. Jason," the name of their father. Once at her cabin, Nancy is absolutely frantic to keep the children's attention, knowing that the second their interest wanes, they will want to go back home. Quentin observes that when Nancy tells a story to the children, "She talked like her eyes looked, like her eyes watching us and her voice talking to us did not belong to her. Like she was living somewhere else, waiting somewhere else." Projecting herself into the story of a queen who comes up out of a ditch to get to her cabin to bar the door, which she and the children have just done, Nancy cannot separate her own fears from the story's narration.

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