Essay on Solitude as Portrayed by Faulkner in Light in August

Essay on Solitude as Portrayed by Faulkner in Light in August

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William Faulkner, an American author, wrote the novel, Light in August, in which Joe Christmas is at the center of the story. Joe Christmas is an orphan who is of biracial descent. At a young age, Christmas was adopted by a man named McEachern. When Christmas became older, he killed his father. From that point on, Christmas wandered about until he reached Jefferson, Mississippi where he fell in love with Joanna Burden, whom he also killed later on in the story. For this reason, along with numerous others, Christmas was lynched at the conclusion of this novel. William Faulkner carefully integrates several different ideas that can lead to a man’s solitude. According to the book William Faulkner by Harold Bloom, “…his fiction is steeped in the tones and emotions of the Deep South” (11). This holds true for Light in August since there is plenty of racism and hatred towards blacks. In William Faulkner’s novel, Light in August, Joe Christmas’s identity, psychological attitude, and resemblance to Christ are revealed through his isolation from society.
Joe Christmas’s racial identity plays a key role in isolating him from society. Christmas’s true identity remains unknown and he is unable to recognize himself. Throughout the novel, he continues to struggle to live in society due to his unawareness of his own identity. In the novel, Light in August, Christmas was called a “negro” by the children at the orphanage: “They have been calling him Nigger for years. Sometimes…children have a way of knowing that grown people…don’t see” (16). At breakfast time, the dietician discovered that both the janitor and the child were missing. The police were immediately notified when she saw that the side door was unlocked, to which the janitor had a ...


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...tment that was given to people of other descent. By writing about Joe Christmas’s life, Faulkner creates a clear image for his audience on the importance of history.





Works Cited
Bloom, Harold. William Faulkner. New York, Chelsa House, 1999. Print.
Bloom, Harold. William Faulkner. New York, Bloom's Literary Criticism, 2008. Print.
Fargnoli, A. Nicholas. Critical Companion to William Faulkner: a Literary Reference to His Life
and Work. New York: Facts on File, 2008. Print.
Faulkner, William. Light in August. New York, Random House, 1950. Print.
Sills, Caryl K. “Patterns of Victimization in Light in August.” Mosaic (Winnipeg) 38.2 (2005):
163+. Questia. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.
Sugarman, Helen Lynne. “He was Getting It Involved with Himself: Identity and Reflexivity.”
Southern Quarterly. Winter 1998: 95-102. Sirs Renaissance. Web. 12 Nov. 2011.

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