Religion is a big part of the southern world that Faulkner creates in Light In August. It is also a major theme of the novel. Most characters seem to use “Lord” and “God” very often in their dialogue, which shows that religion is never forgotten by the members of this society. Light in August portrays a type of religious fundamentalism. In this fundamentalism, among the people of the south, there is only one proper way of following and implementing religion in one’s life. Characters are constantly trying to justify killing, hatred, and racism through their faith. The creation of hatred and racism is the result of each character’s belief that theirs are the only genuine beliefs and therefore, it is their responsibility to carry out the work of God in their own personal way and through their own reasoning.
Two characters that are blinded by their own version of living a religious life are Mr. Hines and Mr. McEachern. I will argue that the obsession with their religion and their belief of how it should be followed is an ideology that fails each of these characters in their purpose. Consequently, the more these characters are faced by failure the more they try to embody God and take actions as if they are the Almighty Himself. Ironically, while using religion as a shield these characters fail to see their own sins. These characters see their sins instead, as the most essential and virtuous deeds and the work of God.
From the moment Mr. McEachern picks up Joe Christmas from the foster home he stresses the importance of religion to Joe. While introducing himself, Mr. McEachern explains to Joe, “…I will have you learn soon that the two abominations are sloth and idle thinking, the...
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...forced upon them. There are other types of religious extremists, like Doc Hines, who see those who do not share their faith as enemies and believe that they are a curse of God and therefore, should be eliminated through killing.
These ideologies, even though seen in our world today, cannot be the definitions of faith and religion. In fact, the violence created through them defies the very basic beliefs associated with most world religions. Mr. McEachern and Doc Hines are blinded by their faith and their approach to implement religion in their lives and the lives of others is a forceful and violent one. In the end, both characters fail to spread their faith and instead their forceful teachings and extremist beliefs perpetuate more evil than good in the name of God.
Faulkner, William. Light in August. New York: Vintage International, 1990.
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