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Light In August By William Fau Essay

, Research Paper In the novel by William Faulkner, Light in August there is alienation in the novel. The alienation occurs with Joe Christmas. He is a stranger that comes into the town of

, Research Paper

In the novel by William Faulkner, Light in August there is alienation in the novel.

The alienation occurs with Joe Christmas. He is a stranger that comes into the town of

Jefferson with a unkonwn past. Prior to his arrival, he went under the name of Lucas

Burch. Whne Joe Christmas arrives at Jefferson, he alienates himeself from almost

everybody for about 2 years. His past has taught him to do so, with all the bad things that

has hapened to him.

We get extended interior monologues from Christmas, and the story of his past

occupies a third or more of the book. Despite the amount of information provided,

Christmas remains hard to comprehend. It isn’t that he is not what he seems to be. Rather,

he “seems” to be many things, but the reader can never be quite certain which of these are

real.

Christmas’ tragedy is that he does not know himself what he is. He seems certain

that he is part “nigger” but there is no reliable evidence that this is true. Certainly, he looks

white. Christmas moves back and forth between white society and black society. Every

time he does so, he reveals himself as an outsider. In white society he exposes his own

“nigger” blood; in black society he portrays himself as white. When he does so, he expects

a violent reaction from which he has provoked. Being both black and white he cannot truly

be a part of either society. Nor can he simply deny this dichotomy. Rather, as quoted on

page 69, “his awareness of this dichotomy makes him take up the role of antagonist in all

situations”. He is born into a social system which has defined the categories of white and

black, and has established rituals for dealing with any behavior by either, which depicts an

image to the reader of his alienation and difference he is from the rest of the population in

Jefferson.. Joe believes in these categories and rituals. When a white prostitute is not

outraged by his Negro blood, he beats her. He expects her to reject him. Rather her

“indifference challenges the validity of the premise on which he has built his whole life”

page 71.

These social categories and rituals dominate the novel. A townsman quickly

recognizes that Christmas is “unique among the characters in that he is the only one who

insists on unifying the forces rather than accepting, indeed depending upon, their

separation” on page 13. His attempts to unify the social and moral categories upon which

the society of Jefferson is built earn him the violent rejection by that society, black and

white which leaved him with no place to go. Thus Christmas is murdered by a society

because his existence challenges its very foundations.

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