Light In August
Monday, August 26, 7:00 p.m.
In the Bentley Conference Room on 2nd Floor
Light In August by William Faulkner, 1897 - 1962: "In a novel about hopeless perseverance in the face of mortality, guileless Lena Grove searches for the father of her unborn child, Reverend Hightower is plagued by visions of Confederate horsemen, and drifter Joe Christmas is consumed by his mixed ancestry."
Magill Book Review:
Each of these characters has embarked on a quest. Lena seeks the father of her soon-to-be-born child; Joe Christmas seeks his identity; Hightower attempts to escape the past. Lena's trusting nature allows her to become a part of the community, and she finds a worthy husband. Joe Christmas rejects both the black world and the white and can find peace only in death. Hightower, too, fails to free himself from the burden of the past, though he delivers Lena's baby and makes a gallant but unsuccessful effort to save Joe Christmas.The lives of these three characters reveal a number of themes. Joe Christmas has been reared in a sterile, Calvinistic environment that Faulkner contrasts with the fertility and naturalness of Lena Grove. In part, Joe Christmas' plight results from his uncertainty of his racial identity, a matter of importance, Faulkner indicates, only in a racist society. Hightower provides a warning against another aspect of the South: its worship of a dead past that bars it from facing the present. Hightower is so caught up in the Civil War exploits of his grandfather that he cannot attend to the needs of his wife or his congregation. Like Christmas and Hightower, Lena is an outsider, but she is not fundamentally alienated from the natural order. Hence, only she succeeds in her quest. Interweaving the tragedies of Joe Christmas and Gail Hightower with the comedy of Lena Grove, Light in August reveals the complexity of life. It also shows that compassion, community, and a love of the natural rhythms of life are essential if mankind is to endure and prevail.
Arguably the greatest American writer of the twentieth century, William Faulkner endures as a critical and popular success, despite the overwhelming complexity of his novels and short stories. As a literary stylist he is perhaps unmatched: his chapters, paragraphs, and even sentences are intricately crafted. He excels, too, as a storyteller, with his turbulent stories of race and racism, culture and class, human drama and the human experience. Faulkner's fiction is populated by unforgettable characters and frequently takes place in the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. Start with: As I Lay Dying.
From Novelist, an online database accessed June 6, 2013 through GALILEO