"Blood" is considered by many to be one of the most important ties between human
beings; it is therefore frequently used as an image that defines a character or
a relationship between characters in a novel. For example, a prince might be
defined by his "royal blood," or a weak man described as having "thin blood."
Close friends may be "blood brothers," or families may have a "blood feud." In
William Faulkner's Light in August, the image of blood permeates the themes of
sexuality, race, and religion. Blood is common to all of these themes: it is
evident in reproductive cycles and births, it is a medium for the genetic
passage of race from one generation to the next, and it serves as a symbol of
life or death in many religions. Faulkner centers these powerful images of blood
around Joe Christmas, the main character, whose blood, as a force giving him the
will to live, is strong despite his sins. Christmas associates physical blood
with his impressions of women, defines races and genders by the smell of their
blood, and is guilty and damned because of the darkness in his "black blood."
Christmas's view of the world and of issues Faulkner intimately relates to him,
in particular sexuality, race, and religion, is tinted by the images of blood
revolving around him.
Blood is one of the most important elements in Christmas's view of sexuality. He
has a twisted perception of women and his sexual role due to his traumatic first
exposure to sexuality at the age of five, in which he perceived the sex act as
violent and disgusting. Christmas overheard a sexual ...
... middle of paper ...
...ng him lifeless both
physically and spiritually, though his influence lasts beyond his years.
Christmas's "mixed" blood and mixed ethnicity provide imagery for the themes of
race and religion; his conception of himself and the world is strongly impacted
by his confusion over these two issues. His ideals are further affected by the
connections he draws between blood and sexuality: he views blood as an inherent
part of femininity, and he sees sex as a violent struggle for dominance. Whether
it is a definition of race, a definition of sin or godliness, or a definition of
the essence of females, the image of blood influences Christmas's perception of
the world around him.
Faulkner, William. Light in August. 1932. Notes Joseph Blotner, Editor's note
Noel Polk. New York: Vintage Books, 1990
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