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Focusing on the Margins: Light in August and Social Change

Focusing on the Margins: Light in August and Social Change Focusing on the Margins: Light in August and Social Change by Abdul-Razzak Al-Barhow In William Faulkner's Light in August (1932), a number of figures actively engaged in social change are introduced as Joanna Burden narrates to her lover Joe Christmas the history of her ancestors, and as the defrocked minister Gail Hightower reflects, while sitting in the window of his study, on the history of his family, which was narrated to him by the family's ex-slave when he was a child. Hightower's father was an abolitionist even though "he would neither eat food grown and cooked by, nor sleep in a bed prepared by, a negro slave" (355, 351). Joanna's ancestors received a commission from the government in Washington to go down to the South "to help with the freed negroes," and two of them were shot dead by the slaveholder John Sartoris over a question of Negro votes in a state election (189). Joanna, the last Burden in the South, carries on with this "commission" until she is killed by Joe Christmas.1 The appeal of the engagement with social change in Faulkner's text does not lie in these characters, however, and the way the Burdens perform their http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Focusing on the Margins: Light in August and Social Change

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University of North Carolina Press
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Copyright © University of North Carolina Press
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1534-1461
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Abstract

Focusing on the Margins: Light in August and Social Change by Abdul-Razzak Al-Barhow In William Faulkner's Light in August (1932), a number of figures actively engaged in social change are introduced as Joanna Burden narrates to her lover Joe Christmas the history of her ancestors, and as the defrocked minister Gail Hightower reflects, while sitting in the window of his study, on the history of his family, which was narrated to him by the family's ex-slave when he was a child. Hightower's father was an abolitionist even though "he would neither eat food grown and cooked by, nor sleep in a bed prepared by, a negro slave" (355, 351). Joanna's ancestors received a commission from the government in Washington to go down to the South "to help with the freed negroes," and two of them were shot dead by the slaveholder John Sartoris over a question of Negro votes in a state election (189). Joanna, the last Burden in the South, carries on with this "commission" until she is killed by Joe Christmas.1 The appeal of the engagement with social change in Faulkner's text does not lie in these characters, however, and the way the Burdens perform their

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jul 4, 2010

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