It is nearly impossible to interpret Light in August without noting the Christian parallels.1 Beekman Cottrell explains:
As if for proof that such a [Christian] symbolic interpretation is valid, Faulkner gives us, on the outer or upper level of symbolism, certain facts which many readers have noted and which are, indeed, inescapable. There is the name of Joe Christmas, with its initials of JC. There is the fact of his uncertain paternity and his appearance at the orphanage on Christmas day. Joe is approximately thirty-three years of age at his lynching, and this event is prepared for throughout the novel by Faulkner's constant use of the word crucifixion. These are firm guideposts, and there are perhaps others as convincing. (207)
In fact, there are many more convincing Christian symbolisms, which, in sum, have led to Virginia Hlavsa's suggestion that in Light in August "Faulkner arranged his events and directed his themes to parallel the 21 chapters of the St. John Gospel" ("St. John and Frazer" 11).2
These symbolisms, however, stray from the text of Light in August and seek to unify the novel through biblical or mythic allusions alone. They attempt to answer the questions of how Light in August functions as a work of literature by avoiding the novel itself. Because of this, they each fall short of being a definitive interpretation of the novel. In Francois Pitavy's view, these critics do not base their interpretations on "methodical analysis." They do not "study each chapter or group of chapters to see how and why the spatial and temporal breaks occur" (2). Faulkner's use of Christian myths in Light in August has produced jagged paths for critic...
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...uri State University, 1995.
Gwynn, Frederick L., and Joseph Blotner, eds. Faulkner in the University. Charlottesville: University of Virginia, 1959.
Hlavsa, VirginiaV. "The Crucifixion in Light in August: Suspending the Rules at the Post." Faulkner and Religion: Faulkner and Yoknapatawpha 1987. Ed. Doreen Fowler and Ann J. Abadie. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1989: 127-139.
-------. "St. John and Frazer in Light in August: Biblical Form and Mythic Function."Bulletin of Research in the Humanities 83 (1980): 9-26.
-------. "The Mirror, the Lamp, and the Bed: Faulkner and the Modernists." American Literature 57 (1985): 23-43.
Meriwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, eds. Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner 1926-1962. New York: Random House, 1968.
Pitavy, Francois. Faulkner's "Light in August." Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1973
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