Summary of Part I
The narrator, Buck Monaghan, storms into his boss, Reinhardt's office, at the car dealership. He announces that he's quitting on one day's notice; Reinhardt points out that he's only been working there three weeks. Buck thinks about how it is hard for him to keep a job, since he's "never learned to do anything." He was a pilot, and after the Armistice he continued working as a test pilot, taking up wing-walking "to relieve the monotony."
He comments how "life is pretty dull in peacetime," and remembers how he beat a certain man named White in gambling over and over. He felt guilty about it, but White insisted on writing him checks and continuing to play. Soon after, White committed suicide by crashing a plane from five thousand feet.
Now Buck is "out again... drifting around," and was told about a job as a wing-walker in a barn-storming circus.
Summary of Part II
Buck meets Rogers, who is going to be his copilot at his new job, and Rogers' wife, Mildred. They have him over for dinner often, and Mildred worries aloud that Buck is not having a good time, that he would rather "go out to dance with a couple of bottles of gin." He relates a particularly awkward conversation, in which Mildred complains about how poor she and her husband are, then hints that Buck ought to take them to dinner, then immediately assures him she didn't mean to hint. She suggests that they could "find Buck a girl," but "nothing more was ever said about it." She begins to ask Buck to accompany her to "any of those little things which men do for women that means touching them, she'd turn to me like it was me was her husband and not him."
One night, as Buck is dressing to go over there, Rogers calls him but is cut off by Mildred on the phone, who says, "Don't forget you're to come out tonight." He goes over to their house, but can tell something is off: Mildred is crying on the divan, complaining about how poor they are. Buck leaves, and offers to lend Rogers money, but Rogers refuses.
Mildred goes on a visit to her mother's, and Buck misses her while she is gone for three weeks. One afternoon, while Buck is busy, Buck goes over to the house to visit Mildred and "it was like gasoline from a broken line blazing up around you."
Summary of Part III
As he reminisces, Buck ponders how Rogers must have known what was going on between Buck and Mildred, since "she didn't have any discretion at all." One afternoon, he is about to go visit her while Rogers is busy, but Rogers stops him and asks him to come to dinner. When Buck gets to their house, Mildred explains that she has told Rogers everything, and that they have decided that Mildred should go be with Buck. Buck is overwhelmed and remembers, "I wanted to be out of there. I wanted to run." Mildred cries out that he was lying to her about loving her, and begins to cry.
Buck explains, as the narrator, that he did love Mildred, because "nothing can marry two people closer than a mutual sin in the world's eyes." Rogers asks him, "Do you love her? Will you be good to her?" When Buck leaves, "the divorce was all settled."
Summary of Part IV
The next morning at work, Buck and Rogers are assigned to a "special job" together. Rogers doesn't threaten Buck, but Buck keeps cursing him and saying, "You've got me." He assumes Rogers will kill him while he's out on the wing. Rogers shows how little he wants to kill Buck by offering to do the wing-walking even though he doesn't know how, but Buck refuses to let him and instead prepares for his death confidently.
As the voice of the narrator, Faulkner tells much of the story through anecdotes. This technique gives the reader the impression that Buck often dwells in his memories, and helps to characterize him. The encounter with Mildred and Rogers is included as an anecdote, and there are anecdotes within it, as well. For instance, when Buck believes he is about to die on the wing of the plane, he remembers encounters with certain men during the war, almost peacefully.
The disastrous nature of Buck and Mildred's relationship is reflected in the imagery of fire Faulkner uses to describe it. When the idea first comes to Buck to go over to her house, it is because he is "just thinking about her being home again, breathing the same smoke and soot I was breathing," and when they make love, "it was like gasoline from a broken line blazing up around you." When Buck is at their house after Mildred has told Rogers about their relationship, she leans against him and "it was like a piece of wood with another piece of wood leaning against it;" they are the two pieces of wood that have rubbed together to make a fire.
Buck is a bit of a misogynist, believing women to be silly and flighty in general, not at all like men. When Mildred begins crying, believing that he has lied to her about loving her, he explains to the reader how "a woman, even when you love her, is a woman to you just a part of the time and rest of the time she is just a person that don't look at things the same way a man has learned to."
When Buck and Rogers go up on their "special job" in Part IV, Buck assumes that Rogers wants to kill him, even though Rogers gives no indication of this. He taunts Rogers, "You feel good. You've got me. Come on; grin on the outside of your face. Come on!" He is projecting his own attitude onto Rogers; though Rogers is clearly not a vengeful man, Buck wants him to be because he feels that he deserves it. He even challenges Rogers once he is on the wing, yelling "Come on; now you've got me. Where are your guts?" instructing him, "shake the wing a little; I'll go off easy, see?"
The theme of the young man at war is complicated here, as Buck was a pilot in the war, and now has trouble keeping a job. His life holds little meaning for him, as is clear when he resigns himself to dying while wing-walking. As he slides off the wing of the plane, he remembers an Indian prince who told him "You will not know it, but you are all dead," because they fought in the war.
"Honor" was first published in 1930 in American Mercury. It was republished as part of Doctor Martino and Other Stories in 1934, along with "Death Drag," another story about stunt flying and wing-walking. The title story, "Doctor Martino," is like "Honor" in its focus on a strange love triangle.
Buck Monaghan, the narrator, also appeared in the short story "Ad Astra." In this story, he is drinking in a bar in France on the night of the Armistice along with other aviators including Bayard Sartoris. In "Honor," he remembers the event in "Ad Astra" in which he befriends a German prisoner of war.