light in august by william faulkner n.
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Light in August By: William Faulkner
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  1. Light in AugustBy: William Faulkner

  2. William C. Faulkner • Faulkner was born on September 25,1897 in New Albany, Mississippi • Named for his civil war hero, politician, author grandfather who remains an inspiration for the eldest of his four grandsons. • His early works were modeled after romantic English poets, such as Burns, Thompson, Housman, and Swinburne. • However, Faulkner’s early exploits in poetry were failed attempts. • His first published work was entitled The Marble Faun, however, poetry was not his ambition and two years later (in 1926) he wrote his first novel, Soldier’s Pay, which kick started his career as an author.

  3. After his first novel was published, he wrote another two, however, the publishers wouldn’t publish his works. He was dejected and began writing for pleasure rather than profit. • Surprising himself, this novel, The Sound and the Fury (named for Shakespeare’s Macbeth) was good enough to be published and it became one of his first, most popular novels in 1929. • Following were some of his most famous novels including, Light in August, which was published in 1932. • Following his success as an author, he began a career as a popular screenwriter, with such titles as To Have and Have Not, which was adapted from Hemingway’s novel. • He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and accepted a year later.

  4. Context Ezra Pound • Faulkner wrote during a period preceding World War I known as modernism. It is characterized by a break from traditional forms. • Characterized as a mistrust of power, especially the government. • Rejected romanticism and Victorian literature • Favored precision of imagery and clear language.

  5. Post Civil War South Reconstruction The Great Depression

  6. Characters Reverend Gail Hightower Joe Christmas Joe Brown aka “Lucas Burch” Byron Bunch Lena Joanna Burden McEachern

  7. Major Characters • Joe Christmas: Born to a family that was separated by circumstance. His maternal grandfather shot his father and placed Joe on the steps of an orphanage on Christmas Day (hence the name “Christmas”). Growing up, Christmas was distant and was treated differently. He discovered that he was half African American and, following his adoption, he became even more isolated. Because of the treatment he had received from his adoptive father, as well as the rest of his community, he grew angry with world. The majority of his life was spent in search of his true identity. He spent much of his life wandering, looking for a place where he belonged. However, his search was futile as he passed away before finding the answer. • Lena Grove: The character of Lena foils that of Christmas. She is innocent and naively searching for the father of her child, who does not want to be found. However, she is not hindered by her struggle, in fact she grows from it. Faulkner suggests that her strength and innocence improve her situation and allow her to cope despite her suffering. She enters Jefferson just as she entered, proving that her strength has the power to overcome outside influence. However, unlike Christmas, she was able to find what she had come to Jefferson looking for; there was resolution in the end. • Reverend Gail Hightower: Faulkner uses the character of Hightower to demonstrate how the past can drastically affect the present. His obsession with his grandfather’s service in the Civil War carried over into his career and his relationship with his wife. He is unable to let go of the past, which leads to the downfall of his career and his marriage. However, even though the town had lost all respect in him, he continues to retain his pride.

  8. Plot Synopsis • The novel opens with the introduction of Lena, a pregnant teenager who has left her hometown in Alabama in search of her baby’s father. • She was informed that he had been working at a planing mill there by the natives of Jefferson. However, she discovers that her lover has been going by the name of Joe Brown and has been working with another named Joe Christmas selling whiskey illegally. • The home where the two had been living was on the property of a Miss Burden, who was romantically involved with Christmas. • The house was set fire on the day of Lena’s arrival and Burden was discovered murdered in her home. • Brown was arrested and imprisoned while the cops searched for Christmas, who had escaped prior to the arrival of the police. • The story then flashes back to Christmas’ history as well as that of the disgraced minister, Hightower, who is discussing the events of the town with Byron Bunch (the one who found Lena as she entered Jefferson). • Through the flashback, the reader is informed of the nature of Joe’s childhood, his abandonment and his eventual adoption.

  9. He is raised by a strictly religious farmer named McEachern who subjects him to regular beatings in an effort to force Christmas to conform. • When Christmas is confronted by his stepfather at a local dance, he snaps and kills him. Joe then flees, living a somewhat nomadic life. • As the narrative returns to the present, the audience discovers that Christmas is the one who murders Burden after she attempts a murder-suicide. • He again flees but is eventually caught by authorities. After his capture, he is approached by his maternal grandfather, Doc Hines, who calls for Joe’s death. However, his grandmother is shocked to discover that he is alive. • Christmas is brought to the home of the disgraced minister who informs him that his father worked for the circus but was killed after he tried to run off with Christmas’ mother. His heritage was confirmed, he was part African-American, which was something he struggled with his entire life. • Meanwhile, Lena goes into labor and reveals to Brown that she is there with his son. • He panics and flees on a passing train. • At the same time, Christmas escapes only to be shot by Hightower as he is running. • Lena and Bunch resolve to raise the baby together

  10. Themes/ Motifs/Symbols • Eyes • The Past • The struggle for identity • The Road • Isolation • Names • Time/Transitioning

  11. Literary Devices • Third Person Omniscient Point of View • Somewhat Detached Tone • Shifting Between Characters • Both Past and Present Tense • Flashback/ Flash-forward • Literary Allusions • Oxymoron/ Paradox • Metaphor • Symbolism

  12. Bibliography • • • •,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=e8c595b6346aae34&biw=1109&bih=566