God, Judgment, and the Great Hypocrisy of the Benighted South Essay

God, Judgment, and the Great Hypocrisy of the Benighted South Essay

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The role of art in culture is to capture and reflect the underlying morals, values, and the way those principles interact within the scope of an individuals’ reality. The mind’s ability to accept and rationalize only what is desired for the continued narrative of the individual’s comfortable existence which allows for a sense of control in what is an otherwise a harsh and chaotic world. For those, who chose to appreciate art, risks a confrontation with stark reality of disconnect between an individual’s relationship with their manufactured reality and the world as it exists. Faulkner’s works describe this dialectic of reality with scathing accuracy. The unique method of his almost anti-narration, allows for his characters to drive the story in a piecemeal fashion to a conclusion in which the reader is left to ponder the reality of Faulkner’s story. In his novel As I Lay Dying, Faulkner demonstrates the Southerner’s struggle of coping with the problems of faith, communion and death.
Cora Tull is introduced to the reader while her and her daughters hold vigil over Addie Bundren’s bed, although the reader would not know her purpose at first. As Cora sits with the dying woman in the last hours of her life, she is preoccupied with the finances and chores of a farmer’s wife. Throughout Cora’s first two chapters, she dwells primarily on her own thoughts and only looks down at Addie once and when thinking about Addie, she can only envy her for her baking skills, judge her for her lack of piousness, callous nature and misplaced devotion of Jewel. Cora’s conscious proposed reason for going to the Bundren farm is to give comfort to the dying mother, in a show of altruistic support, but unconsciously she goes merely as a selfish attempt to...


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...n of suffering.
The disconnection form reality portrayed by Cora, is endemic of Southern Culture. Her safeguard against the unsavory aspects of life is her ability to blind herself with her a pretense religious and moral superiority, either by ignoring the circumstances that do not conform to her outlook or condemning them as profane. In Fred Hobson’s essay Benighted South, he quotes author Thomas Wolfe described the South as a “barren spiritual wilderness,” which maintained a “hostile and murderous entrenchment against all new life” (211). Throughout Faulkner’s writings, he portrays a culture outspokenly religious people, who when confronted with stimulus that does not conform to their prescribed reality and serves to unsettle the equilibrium of their finally constructed world view, they have a tendency to become irrational, violent and in some cases murderous.

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