That Evening Sun

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Critical Analysis of That Evening Sun

In That Evening Sun, William Faulkner approaches the story through an anecdotal style that gives meaning to the story. The narrator uses the anecdote that happened to him to convey the story’s underlying meaning that people are restricted by social class and race, not realizing this meaning himself at the time. The era of racism pertains to the meaning of the story, discussing the aversion of southern white people to help those different from them, focusing on the restrictions that society has placed on social class and race separation and the desire to maintain the division.

The anecdotal style in That Evening Sun allows the narrator, Quentin, to have a viewpoint and an attitude that is more mature. Since he tells the story now that he is an adult, and the anecdote comes from a memory as a child, the details are focused on smaller things. To exemplify, we see how Quentin takes time to notice Nancy’s eyes by recalling, “they looked like cats’ eyes do” (296). Information is also given to the reader in a vague way, showing how little Quentin understood about the events that took place. Quentin for instance, didn't know what the "swelling" under Nancy's dress was, and without question assumes that the bump is a “watermelon” because that’s what Jesus says it is. The reader must assume that since Nancy said to Jesus that the baby, “never come off of your vine, though” that the child is not Jesus’. The reader doesn’t acquire this knowledge from Quentin’s understanding, however, since he is not mature enough, rather interprets it from Nancy’s words. The effect of having Quentin as an adult tell a childhood story is that the reader is made aware of the casual observations that he thought were imp...

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...morality of racism, just the fact that racism is present and that’s the way it was at that time. In the story, the reader can see Nancy’s feelings and thoughts, therefore we view her as a real person, but during the time she was simply a black woman and Quentin is showing that it wasn’t racism that was intentional, rather it was an upbringing that shaped the way black people were viewed. Furthermore, Jason’s repetition of “I’m not a nigger,” is not meant in a callous way, rather is meant in a “that’s just how it is” way. The social commentary on racism and it “just being there” is hidden through the children’s ramblings. The comments of the children show how much the children paid attention to the ways adults were presenting racism. The point of this being to show a memory that came from youth and concentrated on blacks just being the lower social class and race.

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