Light in August

The dogs were cast, still on leash. They struck immediately. The trail was good, easily followed because of the dew. The fugitive had apparently made no effort whatever to hide it. They could even see the prints of his knees and hands where he had knelt to drink from a spring. “I never yet knew a murderer that had more sense than that about the folks that would chase him,” the deputy said. “But this durn fool don’t even suspect that we might use dogs.”

“We been putting dogs on him once a day ever since Sunday,” the sheriff said. “And we ain’t caught him yet.”

“Them were cold trails. We ain’t had a good hot trail until today. But he’s made his mistake at last. We’ll get him today. Before noon, maybe.”

“I’ll wait and see, I reckon,” the sheriff said. “You’ll see,” the deputy said.

“This trail is running straight as a railroad. I could follow it, myself almost. Look here. You can even see his footprints. The durn fool ain’t even got enough sense to get into the road, in the dust, where other folks have walked and where the dogs can’t scent him. Them dogs will find the end of them footprints before ten o’clock.”

Which the dogs did. Presently the trail bent sharply at right angles. They followed it and came onto a road, which they followed behind the low headed and eager dogs who, after a short distance, swung to the roadside where a path came down from a cotton house in a nearby field. They began to bay, milling, tugging, their voices loud, mellow, ringing; whining and surging with excitement. “Why, the durn fool!” the deputy said. “He set down here and rested: here’s his footmarks: them same rubber heels. He ain’t a mile ahead right now! Come on, boys!” They went on, the leashes taut, the dogs baying, the men moving now at a trot.

-Excerpted from Light in August by William Faulkner, 1932

Which statement best summarizes the action of this passage?

  • A murderer runs away from the law.
  • A fugitive outsmarts the sheriff and his deputy.
  • A sheriff, a deputy, and his dogs try to track down a murderer.
  • A sheriff and his deputy disagree on plans for a manhunt.

The dogs are useless in capturing the fugitive.

As read the passage, did you notice that the setting changes? The author reveals this shift in location by showing where the sheriff and his deputy have found the fugitive’s handprints and foot marks. Study the passage again. On the following lines, describe the locations where the passage begins and ends: