Lynching was far too common in 1931 and it was worse in the south. Almost 100 years after the Civil War, the division of whites and blacks was almost absolute with power tipped entirely to one side. This dynamic fueled a lot of literature including To Kill a Mockingbird and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (and many others). In one of his shortest works, Faulkner tips his hat to Hemingway by telling a ghastly story without telling it at all. The act itself is implied but never described and the horror is left to the theater of the mind.
This story is a masterpiece.
In mining the hearts of the principle characters from counter balancing points of view, Faulkner drives us from effect to cause and strips bare the tragic talons of hate and fear dug deep into the souls of the characters. Even now it resonates and reading is impossibly subjective.
We are there and we are horrifically present and complicit.