Faulkner's Light in August - Style

Faulkner's Light in August - Style

Length: 830 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓

Light in August - Style


Chapter 6, opening paragraph:

Knows remembers believes a corridor in a big long garbled cold echoing building of dark red brick sootbleakened by more chimneys than its own, set in a grassless cinderstrewnpacked compound surrounded by smoking factory purlieus and enclosed by a ten foot steel-and-wire fence like a penitentiary or a zoo, where in random erratic surges, with sparrowlike childtrebling, orphans in identical and uniform blue denim in and out of remembering but in knowing constant as the bleak walls, the bleak windows where in rain soot from the yearly adjacenting chimneys streaked like blacktears.


Faulkner's style may give you trouble at first because of (1) his use of long, convoluted, and sometimes ungrammatical sentences, such as the one just quoted; (2) his repetitiveness (for example, the word "bleak" in the sentence just quoted); and (3) his use of oxymorons, that is, combinations of contradictory or incongruous words (for example, "frictionsmooth," "slow and ponderous gallop," "cheerful, testy voice"). People who dislike Faulkner see this style as careless. Yet Faulkner rewrote and revised Light in August many times to get the final book exactly the way he wanted it. His style is a product of thoughtful deliberation, not of haste. Editors sometimes misunderstood Faulkner's intentions and made what they thought were minor changes. Recently scholars have prepared an edition of Light in August that restores the author's original text as exactly as possible. This Book Note is based on that Library of America edition (1985), edited by Noel Polk and Joseph Blotner.


In some of his more difficult passages, Faulkner is using the technique called "stream-of-consciousness." Pioneered by the Irish writer James Joyce, the most extreme versions of this device give the reader direct access to the full contents of the characters' minds, however confused, fragmented, and even contradictory those contents may be.


But Faulkner develops his own, more structured variety of stream of consciousness. In his densest paragraphs, he often lets his characters fall into reveries in which they perceive more deeply than their conscious minds possibly could. His characters connect past and present and reflect on the meaning of events and on the relationships between them in a manner that sounds more like Faulkner himself than like the characters in their usual states of mind.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Faulkner's Light in August - Style." 123HelpMe.com. 11 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on William Faulkner 's Use Of Words

- William Faulkner’s work has influenced many people today. He is known for his use of words and his theme. William Faulkner is also known as one of the greatest American authors of the twentieth century. His greatest work is A Fable, which won a Pulitzer Prize. William Faulkner was raised a southern boy, whose writing was influenced by two people and one major event, and his greatest work A Fable. A preeminent figure in twentieth-century American literature, Faulkner created a profound and complex body of work in which he often explored exploitation and corruption in the American South....   [tags: William Faulkner, Southern United States]

Research Papers
1214 words (3.5 pages)

William Faulkner 's Writing On Words, And His Theme Essay

- Many writers work have influenced many people. One author in particular that has influenced many people over the last 50 plus years, is William Faulkner. William is known for his play on words, and his theme. Faulkner is also known as one of the greatest American authors of the 20th century. A Fable, which is his greatest work, won a Pulitzer Prize. Faulkner was raised as a southern boy, whose writing was influenced by two people and one major event, his greatest work A Fable. Preeminent figure in the twentieth century American literature, Faulkner created a complex and profound body of work in which he often explored exploration and corruption in the south....   [tags: William Faulkner, Southern United States]

Research Papers
1237 words (3.5 pages)

Light in August by William Faulkner Essay

- Light in August by William Faulkner Light in August, a novel written by the well-known author, William Faulkner, can definitely be interpreted in many ways. However, one fairly obvious prospective is through a religious standpoint. It is difficult, nearly impossible, to construe Light in August without noting the Christian parallels. Faulkner gives us proof that a Christian symbolic interpretation is valid. Certain facts of these parallels are inescapable and there are many guideposts to this idea....   [tags: Light August william Faulkner Essays]

Research Papers
1234 words (3.5 pages)

Faith in Faulkner's Light In August Essay

- Faith in Faulkner's Light In August 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....   [tags: Faulkner Light August Religion Essays]

Research Papers
1642 words (4.7 pages)

Images of Blood in Faulkner's Light in August Essays

- Images of Blood in Faulkner's Light in August          "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....   [tags: Faulkner Light August Essays]

Research Papers
2148 words (6.1 pages)

Racial Theme in Faulkner’s Light in August Essay

- Racial Theme in Faulkner’s Light in August One theme that I really noticed was stressed throughout Faulkner’s Light in August was the theme of race. Joe Christmas’ mixed race is a central issue all through the novel. The reader is continually brought back to the fact that he is half black, especially during his affair with Johanna Burden. Johanna (and Faulkner) always makes his racial status known while Johanna and Joe are making love by Johanna’s gasping “Negro. Negro. Negro!” (260). It is intriguing that while Johanna’s father believed that the white race was cursed by the ‘White Man’s Burden’, the duty to help lift the black race to a higher status, and that blacks would never be on the...   [tags: Faulkner Light in August]

Research Papers
643 words (1.8 pages)

Essay on Faulkner's Light in August - Setting

- Light in August - Setting Most of Light in August is set in the towns, villages, and countryside of the early 1930s Deep South. It is a land of racial prejudice and stern religion. Community ties are still strong: an outsider is really identifiable, and people gossip about their neighbors. In this part of the country, the past lives on, even physically. For example, the cabin in which Joe Christmas stays and in which Lena Grove gives birth is a slave cabin dating back to before the Civil War....   [tags: Light August Essays]

Free Essays
507 words (1.4 pages)

Faulkner's Light in August - Themes Essay

- Light in August - Themes   1. RACISM   The Southern concern with racial identity is one of Light in August's central themes. When people think that Joe Christmas has even a trace of black ancestry, they treat him completely differently from the way they treat white people. Many of the characters in Light in August seem twisted by their preoccupation with race. Joe Christmas, Joanna Burden, Nathaniel Burden, Doc Hines, and, ultimately, Percy Grimm are among these. But even many of the characters who don't share this mania assume that treating blacks inhumanly is acceptable....   [tags: Light August Essays]

Free Essays
1353 words (3.9 pages)

Isolation in Faulkner's Light in August Essay

- Isolation in Light In August In William Faulkner’s Light In August, most characters seem isolated from each other and from society. It is often argued that Lena Grove is an exception to this, but I have found that I cannot agree with this view. Consequently, this essay will show that Lena is lonely too, and that the message in Faulkner’s work on the issue of human contact is that everyone is essentially alone, either by voluntary recession from company or by involuntary exclusion, and the only escape from this loneliness is to have a proper family to comfort you....   [tags: Light August Essays]

Research Papers
1130 words (3.2 pages)

William Faulkner Essay

- William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi, as the oldest of four sons of Murray Charles Faulkner and Maud (Butler) Faulkner. While he was still a child, the family settled in Oxford in north-central Mississippi. Faulkner lived most of his life in the town. About the age of 13, he began to write poetry. At the Oxford High School he played quarterback on football team and suffered a broken nose. Before graduating he dropped out school and worked briefly in his grandfather's bank. After being rejected from the army because he was too short, Faulkner enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and had basic training in Toronto....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
808 words (2.3 pages)

Related Searches


For example, in the Chapter 6 opening just quoted, Joe Christmas is entering the long retreat into memory from which he only emerges after he has killed Joanna Burden. He is just beginning to sort things out, and the free-flowing, emotionally charged jumble of images suggests the workings of his unconscious mind. But Faulkner also uses words and makes observations more sophisticated than you would usually expect from Joe Christmas. This combination is part of what makes his style unique.


Of course, for characters' conscious thoughts, Faulkner uses the style they would use when speaking. And in such passages he puts the thought inside single quotation marks or in italics. For example, in the novel's opening paragraph, "Lena thinks, 'I have come from Alabama: a fur piece. All the way from Alabama a-walking. A fur piece.'" The single quotes seem to indicate thoughts formulated in words. Italics, as in the passage that follows the sentences just quoted, often seem to suggest thoughts not quite so explicitly verbalized. Note also Faulkner's ability to use brief passages of dialogue to make a large variety of Southern characters come to life as individuals. See, for example, Chapter 1's conversation between Armstid and Winterbottom.


Some readers have suggested additional reasons for Faulkner's style. He may use a grand style to elevate characters that are themselves either quite humble (for example, Lena Grove), quite brutal (Joe Christmas), or almost pathetic (at times Gail Hightower and Byron Bunch). Others say that Faulkner likes to force readers to absorb many contradictory feelings all at once. He wants you to see the meaningful connections between a large variety of human experiences. Faulkner himself once said that he wanted to put the entire "world" on a "pinhead." Looked at this way, his all-encompassing sentences create a style appropriate for a novel with three different plots and a host of seemingly unrelated characters. And Faulkner's use of oxymorons may create a tension that mirrors his characters' and his region's often unresolved conflicts.


Certain images recur especially often in Light in August. Ghosts, phantoms, and shadows sometimes suggest the past that still seems to haunt several of the characters. At other times these same phantoms reinforce our sense that many of the characters are not fully alive. Images of circles abound, for example, the wheel of Hightower's final vision, the circle that Christmas thinks his life forms, the circle of the urn that Faulkner associates with Lena Grove. Faulkner often uses the image of the mirror to suggest the ways the different characters reflect each other. Finally, you might note the particular attention Faulkner pays to descriptions of motion and of sound.
Return to 123HelpMe.com