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That Evening Sun

Main Conflicts of the Story

After having read the story it seemed that the author focused on too many problems at ones. Here you can face the conflict between rich and poor, white and black, good and evil, love and hatred and many others. But I would like to speak about three, to my mind the most important once.

The first issue that is touched upon in the story is the relationships between black and white people. So the racial question is one of those ones that bother the author very much. Nancy, a negro-woman, was a servant in the house of the Compsons. And till the moment everything was ok, the family needed her but as soon as she got into some troubles with her husband, nobody cared for her anymore. By the end of the story she was frightened to death, she did not want to come back home, she was sure her husband would kill her. But neither Mr. Compson nor his wife pays attention to Nancy’s problems. Probably the only people who cared for Nancy were the three children but the dramatic moment consists in the fact that the kids were too small so they simply could not help Nancy at all. The eldest one, Quentin, probably understood Nancy but he could not influence his father and make him help the servant since his request would not be taken seriously. 

So it results from all the spoken above that the adults in the Compson family are quite indifferent people. Mr. Compson does not even talk to his wife, he is pretty indifferent to his own children, and I think there is no need to say that his behavior towards the servants is even more indifferent than to the other people. As for Mrs. Compson, then she is the most reticent person in the story. But we can make a conclusion that she does not care for her children that much because she does not spend a single minute with them: everything is done by the servant. We see that there is just a little love between the parents, between parents and children, and also among children who grow up not really knowing what love is.

All Faulkner’s characters are bound together and involved into an inextricable web of shame, guilt and evil. Nancy is guilty because she has cheated on her husband and now she is pregnant with a white man’s child and this very child that she bears inside herself is that sin she will have to pay for. But in fact she has already paid for that: the husband has left her, she is scared she would be killed so her life has changed greatly and nothing will make it normal again. …And also the Compsons who are concentrated only on their own problems and wealth. They forgot what happiness is, or maybe they just do not want to know it.

The life of all the characters is full of indignity, evil and even haughtiness. They have to suffer due to some events and they cannot do anything with that. What the author allows the reader to do is to think and choose whether to be like his characters or to choose another way.

(by Luck)


"That Evening Sun”: a story of conflicts and fear


The plot of "That Evening Sun” represents a chain of insignificant (in common sense) events showing the reader the leisurely pace of life in a small provincial town. The introduction to the story gives us a hint at the social and cultural conflict: the rapid changes rushed into the quite bay of life and nibbled every bit of the routine perception of the world. The narrator feels much at ease when he goes back in his memories to the time when these technical innovations had been almost inconceivable.

He depicts the strained relations within a family of 5 people: a husband, a wife and their 3 children. The author places the role of the narrator upon one of the children – the elder one, Quentin. Thus the child’s interpretation of the facts and conflicts is imposed on us. We feel that proneness to conflict is in the air. Nancy, a black washerwoman, is pregnant with a white man’s child and is sure her husband, Jesus, is lying in wait to kill her though there is no sign of him in the town. The author points to the idea that the problem of a black woman remains unimportant to the family where she works. The Compsons themselves are unwilling to get involved in the anxiety of a black servant. They probably do not realize to the end that some problems had already sneaked into their peaceful way of living.

William Faulkner emphasizes the conflict between the parents. The groundless envy and criticism of the lady doesn’t even worry her husband. Jason Compson acts as a respectable landlord and honest husband and father. The couple does not have a presentiment about what is in store for them: absence of spirituality, estrangement, adultery, whims of the wife and jealousy scenes of the husband. 

But the most substantial conflict takes place within Nancy’s inner self. Nancy is the central character of the story and she represents the concentration of the emotions and sin. But on the other hand she could be considered a victim because she is tortured by uncertainty and her future is shrouded in mystery. She is said to have tried to commit a suicide but was rescued. She is tormented with the fear of death but at the same time she understands Jesus has a full right to be deathly offended by her. She lives under imminent danger.

It is evident that she is striving to love; but she cannot soothe people, and cannot express her agony. Her fear is overwhelming and the only let out that it eventually finds is that strange sound she produces entering the state of trance. The author gives much importance to the rumors about her. People say she is a drunkard; she was taken into custody for several times; her husband appears to be a dangerous criminal. Faulkner depicts Nancy as a tangle of darkness, mystery, pangs and total depravity. So this character is ambiguous and puzzling to understand.

(by MissJane)


That evening sun.

William Faulkner always touches different problems of one person. The same we saw in the story "A rose for Amely”, the same we can see in his work "That evening sun”. The story tells us about one family – Compsons, they have three beautiful children and two servants who helped them about the house – Dilsey and Nancy. The central person of the whole story is Nancy and her life tragedy. She is very incomprehensible and complex. Her character we can describe as a scheme:  Evil causes a sin. Sin leads to Guilt. Guilt leads to Shame. Shame leads to Agony.

These five notions can give us a full picture of Nancy. Nancy if frightened of her husband, she thought that he would kill her because she was pregnant from Mr. Stoval. This fear was the reason for Nancy’s Agony. She couldn’t have a normal life because she always was ready to be killed. Nancy was ashamed by that fact that she was pregnant by a white child. And that was her guilt. That was the reason for her inner attenuation.

In this story William Faulkner affected different conflicts. There is a conflict between whites and blacks. In spite of the fact that the  society can also change and people who can afford servants,  began to pass blacks rights or just be polite with them, some people  didn’t accept it. For example Mr Stoval, who thought that it was quite normal to strike Nancy in her face, just because she tried to get money from him in a crowded place.  Another conflict is an inner conflict. This indifference that went from Compsons killed in Nancy the wish to live. At the end of the story we see that Nancy even didn’t close the door when she stayed alone. She understood that no one could help her and  defend from her husband. That is why she ignored  Mr Compson’s  requirements. The theme of the story is fear and  Nancy is frightened of her husband, Ms. Compson is frightened of staying  alone, Jason is frightened to go with Nancy in her house. Everybody in this story fears something. 

Speaking about an indifference  we can say that just the indifference to black’s tragedies can characterize this story. Nancy – is a servant, who is frightened to go home always tells about it and Ms Compson doesn’t pay any attention to it. She became even very disappointed when her husband tried to help Nancy. Mr Compson is also indifferent to Nancy. He didn’t allowed her  to stay at his house at night, even in spite of the fact, that Nance didn’t require much, just a place on the floor in the kitchen where she could sleep. And when children decided to walk through the dark street in Nancy’s house, Mr Compson said: Close the door Nancy, switch off the lamp and go sleep. Nothing is dangerous here.”

Only children took care about Nancy. When their parents abandoned to go with Nancy in her home, children decided not to stay her alone and accompanied her. It seemed to the reader that children are the reflection of their parents , for example, Jason behaved as his mother, he wanted to go home.  But they proved that they are able to empathize, to feel for Nancy.

(by Megastarosta)


Symbolism in the Short Story "That Evening Sun”

William Faulkner’s stories deal with a plethora of human problems. But at the same time they focus on social conflicts and misunderstanding. The story "That evening sun” is not an exception. It tells us a story of a woman that is driven to the borderline state. It concentrates on her thoughts, emotions and behaviour.

I suppose that before analyzing literary devices I should devote my attention to the plot a little bit. And say at least a few words about the main character. The main character, Nancy, was a black woman who feared that her husband would come back to kill her because she prostituted herself and consequently became pregnant by a white man. Faulkner has used the fear of a black woman to demonstrate the theme of injustice and hopelessness in the old South. Irony and symbolism were also used by Faulkner to show a great terror of the unfairness and injustice.

The fact that Nancy's teeth were missing is the first hint of Faulkner's symbolism and irony. The missing teeth are a symbol of violence and cruelty of the surrounding world.

The next symbol I’d like to comment upon is a cup. It appears and reappears thrice within a story. Therefore, we may conclude that its role is of great importance and significance. At first Nancy is brought a cup of coffee. And she’s drinking it, "Nancy held the cup to her mouth and blew into the cup. Her mouth pursed out like a spreading adder's, like a rubber mouth, like she had blown all the color out of her lips with blowing the coffee”.

Then she fails to control her hands and the coffee sploshes. "She made the sound into the cup and the coffee sploshed out onto her hands and her dress.”

Afterwards, the cup  finally falls down. But it doesn’t break. "Nancy let the cup go. It didn't break on the floor, but the coffee spilled out, and Nancy sat there with her hands still making the shape of the cup. "

I suppose the cup symbolizes Nance herself. It reflects the development of her inner state. At first she could cope with herself. But it was getting more and more difficult. That’s why she began to lose control over her own life and existence. And finally, she "falls down” but not breaks. She’s "empty”. Just a vessel without any inner filling. By the way, filling and feeling sound quite similar, don’t they?

To conclude, the short story "That Evening Sun” is a very thought-provoking piece of literature. It does not give any ready-made answers. But it contains plenty of questions. Of unanswered questions. And these are symbols that hint us which direction we should go in order to reveal and grasp the truth.

(By Asya)



The fear that leads her...
Linear narration is not typical of Faulkner's stories. Being composed of different sub-stories it seems more like a stream of one's consciousness, one's reminiscences. Plots, conflicts and themes are interrelated and interconnected creating an indivisible whole making it quite difficult for the reader to single out the exact components such as characters' intentions and plot development bench marks. 

The same can be said about Faulkner's story "That evening sun”. Though the main plot line is quite clear, deep analysis of the sub-stories and symbols proves that the narration is far from being mono-dimensional. Among the numerous conflicts and themes one can single out those that correspond to the idea of loneliness and betrayal, children innocence and adult's cruelty, adultery and escape. The story can be viewed from different points of view. It can be interpreted as a story about the African American and people's indifference towards their need and fears. It can be seen as a story of a woman who has lied to her husband and now she's looking for his revenge. It can also be understood as a story about three little children who perceive the world but don't understand it completely, who learn the adult's life than remains too complicated for them. Everything depends on the reader. Faulkner gives us a chance to interpret his message in our own way.

Still there are some things that prevail in the narration. The concept of FEAR is one of the leading in the story. Though we won't find the words "fear”, "terror”, "fright” and "dread in the story, the repetition of the words "she is afraid of” create even deeper effect than the words with stronger connotation. Being overwhelmed with panic, the main heroine finds herself locked up by her own emotions loosing her real self. She's at the edge of emotional explosion, certain in-between state, where her following actions are hardly predictable. The only thing she cares about is her safety, she doesn't even think about the children. She took them to her house being sure that that will help her avoid her husband's punishment but she's too threatened to understand that three little kids can do nothing with a strong furious man. Desperation merges with dread and Nancy turns out to be a bundle of nerves. She's not a woman any more, she's personified fear.

(by Rina)


Black sinner            

            The story "That Evening Sun” is full of conflicts. The most part of them is based on racial discrimination. The key person of the story is Nancy. She is an African-American servant in Composon family. There are three children in the family. They play a role of a touchstone. The boys clearly reflect all the tendencies in the society of that time.

            One of the main tendencies of the time was that black people were convinced that they belonged to an inferior nation. Nancy isn’t an exception. Since her childhood she had been taught to serve, not to have her own opinion, to feel guilty for anything, to be ashamed of the colour of her skin. In spite of this Nancy’s life is not so bad. She has a husband, Jesus. Besides this she has a job and a shelter.

            But one day everything changes. She has sexual relationships with a white man and becomes pregnant. Nancy does this for money, but still she realizes that it’s a sin. She is unfaithful to Jesus. There’s no doubt that Nancy knows about Christianity with its universal truths and commandments.

            The woman is afraid to be killed by her husband. Nancy has been brought up to be guilty for everything, and her sin has become the highest point of her guilt. All this drives Nancy mad. She is at the edge of insanity. Sometimes she just sits in a comatose state and repeats the name of her husband, "Jesus. Jesus. Jeeesus…” Probably the image of her husband is associated for Nancy with the divine scourge.

            At the end of the story Nancy is left alone with her insanity before the fire. Society has made her mad. Lack of education has made her naïve and credulous. The colour of skin has made her non-person.

(by Seagull)




‘‘That Evening Sun’’ has become one of Faulkner's best-known and most popular stories William Faulkner's story "That evening sun" is a typical representation of white Southerners' indifference to the crippling fears of one of their black employees It is the story of three children's reactions to an adult world that they do not fully understand and it is also a story about vengeance and solitude.

Quentin narrates the story in the turn of the century at age twenty-four. These eventstook place fifteen years before. Nancy is an African-American washerwoman. She is  working for Quentin's family since their regular cook, Dilsey, is taken sick. Jesus, Nancy's common-law husband, suspects that she is pregnant with a white man's child and leaves her. At first Nancy is worried about going home at night and running into Jesus, but soon she begins to fear that Jesus can murder her. Family tries to help her first by taking her home at night. But children cannot understand why Nancy is afraid of Jesus. Then Nancy can’t overcome her fear. She talks the kids into going home with her. Their father arrives and tries to explain that there are no reasons to fear. The story ends as the father walks the children back, the kids still teasing each other and the father scolding them.

Nancy is the main character in the story. She is a typical African-American woman, "she was tall, with a high, sad face sunken a little where her teeth were missing." In the story, the African-American washerwoman, Nancy, fears that her common-law husband, Jesus, is seeking to murder her because she is pregnant with a white man's child. She can feel his presence everywhere.

The Compsons are the family trying hard to preserve the standards of the old South. The Compsons are poor, they are lazy, but they insist on their gentility.  Jason Compson, the father, alcoholic and nostalgic, likes to write Latin satires. Caroline Compson, the pretentious mother, is so stiff and indifferent that the children turn for comfort to the black servant Dilsey. There is little love between the parents, between parents and children, even among the children, who grow up not really knowing what love is.

(By Tanya)

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In the story "That evening sun” Falkner focuses on one of the most urgent problems of that time – mutual hatred and disrespect between the black and the white. He uncovers the stereotypes of white Southerners, their intolerant and ignorant behavior, on the edge of degradation and social collapse. Among this mess, there are children, who are not guilty at all.

Nancy is an Afro-American washerwoman who works for the Compsons family. She sinned and is pregnant with a white baby. Throughout the whole story, Nancy is in the condition of permanent fear, dread. She’s full of sense of guilt, and she’s afraid that her husband Jesus is going to kill her. This state leads her to the edge of insanity. All this things happen against the background of her Nigger-view of life. From the childhood she has been convinced that she belongs to the inferior race, that she is always guilty, that she must be ashamed of the color of her skin.

All these complexes and prejudices ran into one another, and now she’s at the top of her guilt and has a feeling of committing a dreadful sin. Even if she’s not guilty for being pregnant, she’s sure that may and would be punished, and her husband Jesus plays a role of divine retribution. Her mentality is unstable; she permanently repeats the name of her husband and that

The children play a role of a touchstone in the story. All their dialogues and verbal exchanges are full of racist phrases, and clearly reflect the public sentiments of the time. It strengthens the dramatic effect because all this ignorance coming from the mouth of babe’s only underlines the darkness and the savageness of the society.

The question of the little Quentin at the end of the story "Who will do our washing now, Father?” and Jason’s answer "I’m not a nigger” prove that the stereotype of a black man being a slave and a menial worker had taken root in their minds. The author uses children to say things like this, in order to show the crustiness and the viciousness of the society. "Truth comes out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.”


BY Alex_Makh

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