When a character comes home from the Civil War in William Faulkner’s 1934 short story “Wash,” the poor white Southerner who lives on his property greets him with optimism. “Well, Kernel,” he says, “they kilt us but they ain’t whupped us yit, air they?”
The reader knows in fact it’s hopeless, but in his concession speech on Wednesday morning, Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine employed the quote as a message of hope. Although he and his running mate Hillary Clinton had lost, he said, Democrats aren’t done fighting for what they believe in.
As for the two men on the plantation (who later appeared as characters in Absalom, Absalom!), Faulkner continues, “That was the tenor of their conversation for the next five years.”