Racial Theme in Faulkner’s Light in August

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Racial Theme in Faulkner’s Light in August

One theme that I really noticed was stressed throughout Faulkner’s Light in August was the theme of race. Joe Christmas’ mixed race is a central issue all through the novel. The reader is continually brought back to the fact that he is half black, especially during his affair with Johanna Burden. Johanna (and Faulkner) always makes his racial status known while Johanna and Joe are making love by Johanna’s gasping “Negro! Negro! Negro!” (260). It is intriguing that while Johanna’s father believed that the white race was cursed by the ‘White Man’s Burden’, the duty to help lift the black race to a higher status, and that blacks would never be on the same level as whites, and yet she lost her virginity to a half-black man. Why would she wait her whole life, devoting herself to virginity to help the black people, and then suddenly give herself up to a man her father failed to believe was worthy? What was it about Joe Christmas that made Johanna want to give herself up to him? Was it because he was of mixed race that made him such an attract...

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