Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Individual and therefore the Community in Light in August


The Individual and therefore the Community in Light in August: Light in August is perhaps Faulkner's most complex and difficult novel. Here he combined numerous themes on an outsized canvas where many aspects of life are vividly portrayed. The publication of this novel marked the top of Faulkner's greatest creative period — in four years he had published five substantial novels and various short stories. Light in August is that the culmination of this creative period and is that the novel during which Faulkner combines many of his previous themes with newer insights into attribute . In Sartoris, The Sound and therefore the Fury, and As I Lay Dying, Faulkner had examined the connection of the individual to his family. In his next major novel, Absalom, Absalom!, Faulkner returned to the family because the point of departure for his story. In Light in August, the family as a unit is replaced by the community, which although not examined because the family is in other novels, is the purpose of departure.

The novel could also be interpreted on many levels. It suggests such themes as man's isolation within the times , man's responsibility to the community, the sacrifice of Christ, the search-for-a-father, man's inhumanity to man, and therefore the theme of denial and flight as against passive acceptance and resignation.


The Individual and therefore the Community in Light in August Each of those are often adequately supported, but none seems to present the entire intent of the novel. Perhaps this is often because the complexity of the novel yields to no single interpretation but seems to need a multiple approach.


The complex theme of man's got to live within himself while he recognizes his responsibility both to himself and to his fellow man will support such a multiple approach to Light in August. The reaction of the varied characters to the community offers another basic approach to the novel. Phyllis Hirshleifer emphasizes the isolation of man within the novel, while Cleanth Brooks sees in it man's relationship within the community. These two views don't exclude one another . The isolation of every character only reinforces his struggle for status both with the community and with himself.

Light in August follows within the logical pattern set by Faulkner's two earlier novels, The Sound and therefore the Fury and As I Lay Dying. The preceding novels addressed man trying to seek out a meaningful relationship with the immediate family, and this one deals with man in relationship to the community and as an isolated being unable to speak together with his fellow man.

Cleanth Brooks writes
Cleanth Brooks writes that the community is "the field for man's actions and therefore the norm by which his action is judged and controlled ." But the problem here is that we don't have a sufficient picture of the norm. it might be accurate to take the community as a force which man tries to assail or avoid. And as Miss Hirshleifer writes: "The society through which Lena moves, the people that give her food, lodging, money and transportation due to her patient understanding modesty are, after all, an equivalent people that crucify the Christmases whose evil arouses their own." It is, therefore, the responses of the community to the person who become significant. While Lena evokes responses permanently , Joe Christmas seems to arouse their evil instincts, and Hightower arouses their suspicion.
But these responses aren't seen, as Brooks suggests, from the view of the community, but through the consequences they produce on the individual character. Thus the community reacts in varying ways, but none of those reactions could accurately be considered because the norm of behavior. And albeit Lena is in a position to evoke responses permanently from various people, she remains outside the community. Each character within the novel is seen as a lonely individual pitted against some force either within or outside himself. Lena, Byron Bunch, Hightower, Christmas, Joanna Burden, Joe Brown, Uncle Doc Hines, and even people like Percy Grimm and McEachern stand outside the community. this is often further emphasized by the very fact that both Lena and yuletide are orphans who haven't any family whom they will return to. The community is additionally used because the objective commentator on the action. We get the long-range view usually from the point-of-view of the community, but nowhere during any of the long views does the community make any definite moral evaluations.



The Structure of The Novel
The isolation theme is carried over into the structure of the novel. The novel could also be weakened into many groups of seemingly isolated vignettes. Each scene, however, is a component of 1 large thematic mosaic, and none might be successfully removed without destroying the entire . Likewise, each isolated character in each isolated scene is viewed within the end as a neighborhood of the structure of a unified whole. Thus the isolation of every character is supported by the structural device of presenting the action of the novel in groups of vignettes.

Lena wills her own isolation. Although she could have left her brother's home unmolested and by the front entrance , she chose to go away by the window which had played such a prominent part in her pregnancy. She never complains of her lot and never asks for help from anyone. However, she instinctively knows that folks will help her; so she involves accept their help at face value. Her simple faith in life is echoed by her belief that she need to be with the daddy of her child when it's born: "I reckon the Lord will see thereto ." Her responses to life are the straightforward and basic reactions founded on an easy philosophy of charity and hope. She is usually anxious to assist those people that give her assistance, and she or he would always "be obliged" if others would share her meager meals together with her . She constantly feels the necessity to commune and share her experience with others.

Even though she relies upon the kindness of strangers, her strength lies within the incontrovertible fact that she has assumed complete responsibility for her acts. She blames nobody for her predicament, and she or he acknowledges no outside hostile force working against her. Lena, then, brings together with her the potential salvation and redemption of Byron Bunch and Hightower by evoking from them responses permanently and forcing them to get entangled in responsibility.
in light in august, the individual and the community




Byron Bunch
Byron Bunch, during his seven years in Jefferson before Lena's arrival, had just one acquaintance, the Reverend Gail Hightower, who was an outcast completely isolated from the community. The community had never noticed Byron, except during a casual thanks to comment upon his idiosyncrasies, until he became involved Lena. Merely by her passivity and her simple questions, Lena forces Byron to get entangled . After revealing to her the identity of Joe Brown, Byron then feels responsible to her. this sense of responsibility draws Bryon out of his lethargic existence and forces him into the stream of life. He successively tries to involve Hightower, who struggles against Byron's interference. Hightower has lived too long in his isolated world of self-abnegation and denial to ascertain that Byron must feel liable for Lena. He cannot understand Byron's actions and interprets them as possessing some ulterior motive.

But Byron's actions are the result of quite thirty years of routine monotony and celibacy. Byron, like Lena, had willed his own isolation in Jefferson; however, with the looks of Lena, he's forced to get entangled in society. His potential redemption is that he's ready to live outside himself and commune with another person; and albeit this involvement was forced upon him, his strength and salvation dwell the very fact that he willingly accepts the responsibility for his actions. Not only does he commit the required acts of preparing for Lena's child and acting as her protector, but also, he exceeds the stress made upon him when he follows after the fleeing Brown and confronts him albeit he knows that he are going to be beaten. Thus Byron, after willing his own isolation, has involvement forced upon him which he willingly accepts.

Hightower's isolation is likewise somewhat self-imposed. Initially, the isolation derived from forces over which he had no control. His grandfather's ghost haunted his Calvinistic conscience until it forced him to marry a woman whom he didn't love and subject her to his own ghosts. he's haunted by two conflicting views of his grandfather — that of the romantic cavalry officer galloping down the streets with drawn saber which of the grandfather shot while stealing chickens, and furthermore, shot probably by some woman.



The seminary he attended acted not as a sanctuary from his phantoms, as he hoped it might , but rather as a way of furthering his ends and preparing him for a call to Jefferson. At the seminary, he met his future wife, who wanted to flee from the tedium of her life there. At Jefferson, he confused God together with his grandfather, galloping horses with salvation, and therefore the cavalry with Calvary. His sermons then reflected his own confusion and, as he later realizes, didn't bring back the congregation the messages of hope and forgiveness.

When his wife commits suicide as a results of Hightower failure as a husband, the congregation then turns against High-tower. He then becomes the rejected and isolated minister. Therefore, a part of his isolation is forced upon him, but partially it derives from his own inner failure to bring the past and present into a workable unity.


Carl Benson writes: "Hightower shapes his own destiny by acts of will, and he is, therefore, morally in charge of his choice." It seems, however, that Hightower's earlier life was shaped for him from forces of the past over which he had no control. These are the forces which ultimately cause him to be rejected by the Presbyterian congregation. it's only after his dismissal that Hightower wills his own destiny, and thus becomes morally responsible for it. His option to stay in Jefferson despite persecution, disgrace, and physical violence leads to his complete isolation. His moral responsibility derives from the sanctity of isolation faraway from the community. He thinks that because he suffered the disgrace and shame, the physical torment and pain, he has won the proper to peace and solitude and therefore the privilege of remaining uninvolved in life. He refuses to simply accept responsibility for his past faults because his suffering has atoned for his previous errors.

But with the doorway of Lena into Jefferson, Hightower is forcefully drawn into the stream of life again and realizes that the past has not been bought and purchased . Hightower, therefore, cannot become the effective moral reflector of the novel until he's ready to come to terms both with himself and his fellow man, and until he assumes an area in society again and recognizes his responsibility to himself and his fellow man. The Individual and therefore the Community in Light in August


.Lena, Byron, and Hightower all will their isolation. Joe Christmas' isolation is forced upon him early in his life by outside forces and attitudes. a part of his plight in life comes from the very fact that he can never accept anything but partial responsibility for his acts and at an equivalent time attempts to disclaim all responsibility for them. Just before killing Joanna, he thinks that "Something goes to happen to me," which suggests that Christmas looks upon his violent actions as being compelled by exterior forces which relieve him of any personal responsibility. on the other hand this only increases his predicament, because he does feel a partial responsibility for his actions. If, then, Christmas' life and attitudes are shaped by exterior forces, it's necessary, so as to know his plight, to work out what proportion Christmas feels he should be held liable for his acts.

Joe's earliest attitudes were formulated
Joe's earliest attitudes were formulated within the orphanage. it had been here that he first discovered that he possessed Negro blood — a incontrovertible fact that in a method or another controlled or affected his every act throughout life. His remaining life was spent trying to bring these two irreconcilable opposites into a big relationship. His unknown father bequeathed him his Negro blood, and this heritage, over which he had no control, is that the strongest influence upon his life. At the orphanage he's first called "nigger." The blood cages him in, and therefore the vigilance of Euphues Hines sets him aside from the remainder of the orphans. he's unable to determine a meaningful relationship with any of the opposite children, and he senses his difference.

One experience at the orphanage, especially, has multiple consequences for Christmas. When he's discovered stealing the dietitian's toothpaste, he expects punishment and instead is bribed with extra money than he knew existed. This experience becomes the determining think about his attitude toward the order of existence, women, and sex throughout the remainder of his life. Since he was kept edgy for several days desiring punishment which never came, he was left confused on the meaning of his act.

McEachern
Therefore, during the remainder of his life when the pattern or order of existence is broken, the result's usually disastrous. When he transgresses McEachern's rules he expects and receives punishment, which accords together with his idea of the order of things. this is often again why he detests the interference of Mrs. McEachern. She, just like the dietitian, represents a threat to the settled order of human existence. Or else, with each prostitute during his years on the road, he would tell her that he was a Negro, which always brought one reaction. When this pattern is broken by the prostitute who didn't care whether he was Negro or not, his reactions are violent and he beats her unmercifully.



Thus his violent outburst comes from the unconscious desire to punish the dietitian who had first violated his pattern of order. an equivalent reaction is seen in his relationship with Joanna Burden. For about two years, their relationship conformed to an ordered (though unorthodox) pattern; but when Joanna broke this pattern together with her demands that Christmas take over her finances, attend a Negro school, and eventually that he pray together with her so as to be saved, he again reacted violently to the present violation of his concept of an ordered existence.

His basic hatred for ladies ultimately returns to the present episode. The dietitian in violating his order of existence also attempted to destroy his individuality. Thus the effeminizing efforts of Mrs. McEachern to melt his relations together with his foster father are rejected because if he yielded to them, he would face the likelihood of losing the firm and ordered relation with McEachern. As long as he maintains this masculine relationship with McEachern, he feels that he retains his individuality.

And, finally, the childhood episode with the dietitian is reflected in his sex life. The toothpaste becomes the essential symbol. At an equivalent time that it's a cleanser , it also is a phallic symbol. The results of the scene is his utter sickness caused by the "pink woman smelling obscurity behind the curtain" and therefore the "listening . . . with astonished fatalism for what was close to happen to him." Each subsequent sex relation, therefore, brings a guilt feeling to Christmas. He associated sex with filth, sickness, violation of order, and therefore the potential loss of individuality.


Likewise, it's significant that every of his subsequent encounters with sex is amid strong sensory images. When he beats the young Negro girl, it's amid the strong odors of the barn and he's also reminded of the sickness caused by the toothpaste. Later, his first encounter with Bobbie Allen is within the restaurant where he goes to order food, and eventually , he meets Joanna in her kitchen when he's stealing food from her. Each of those sensory occurrences recalls to him the scene with the dietitian and again threatens the loss of individuality and therefore the breaking of an ordered existence.

Christmas' need for order is violated successively by each of the ladies with whom he comes into contact. The lesson he learned early in life was that he could depend on men, but women were forever unpredictable. it had been the lady who always broke the pattern of order. First the dietitian, then Mrs. McEachern violated his concept of order, then Bobbie Allen turned violently against him at the time when he most needed her. The last woman to interrupt his order of existence was Joanna Burden, who purchased it together with her life.The Individual and therefore the Community in Light in August.



The women, then, function the destroyers of order. this is often brought out mechanically by Faulkner by using the biblical concept of woman as being unclean. Their menstrual period breaks the order of their life then involves represent their unordered and unclean life. the primary time he learned of their monthly occurrences, Christmas' reactions were violent and led to a blood baptism — the blood being taken from a young sheep that he killed. But even then he rejected this data in order that when Bobbie Allen tried to elucidate an equivalent thing to him, again his reactions were violent, this point ending together with his vomiting. When he next sees Bobbie, he takes her with force and animal brutality. Again, he seems to be reacting against his initial introduction to sex through the dietitian, again asserting his masculinity by forcing order upon the lady .



Christmas' great need for order reverts basically to the 2 bloods in him which are in constant conflict. As stated previously, his blood is his own battleground. He can neither accept nor reject his mixture of blood, and neither can he bring these two elements into a workable solution. Christmas' plight results from his inability to secure an appropriate position in society and he searches for a society which will accept both elements of his blood. Unable to seek out this, he isolates himself from all human society.

Christmas' youthful love for Bobbie Allen
Christmas' youthful love for Bobbie Allen existed on an idealistic plane because he was ready to confess his Negro blood to her and be accepted by her as a private . However, her betrayal of his love amid her taunts of "nigger bastard" and "clod-hopper" implants the thought in his mind that thanks to his blood he must remain the isolated being.

His look for peace, then, may be a look for someone who could accept Joe Christmas as a private despite his conflicting blood. When Joanna Burden asks Christmas how he knows he has Negro blood, he tells her that if he has no Negro blood, then he has "wasted tons of your time ." He has spent his whole life and energy trying to reconcile these two bloods, and if he has no Negro blood then all the efforts of his life are to no avail."

Joanna Burden
Joanna Burden should are the one that could have accepted Joe for what he was. By the time of their involvement, Christmas not seems to revolt against being called a Negro. But Joanna fails him. In being corrupted by him, she seems to enjoy the corruption even more by screaming "Negro! Negro!" as he makes like to her. At thirty-three, Joe has learned to simply accept this name-calling without the accompanying violent reactions; he's living in partial peace with himself, albeit this peace has been found only in complete isolation.



He must reject all of mankind so as to seek out peace. this is often seen when Byron offers Christmas food and therefore the offer is rejected. Therefore, when Joanna offers him jobs, wants him to travel to high school , or tries to urge him to wish , he feels that she is trying to destroy his isolation and peace. he's then forced to kill her or allow his own individuality, order, and peace to be destroyed by her. Faulkner conveys this on the story level just by the very fact that Joanna planned to kill Christmas and would have succeeded if the pistol had not failed her. Christmas is then forced to kill her in self-protection.

His life, his individuality, his peace, and his order would are destroyed by Joanna had he yielded to her. And her death is amid Christmas' refrain: "all I wanted was peace." But even at Joanna Burden's house, Joe couldn't attain his desired peace with himself because the warring elements of his blood compelled him to inform others that he was a Negro. At least, he confessed to Joanna and Brown. If, then, he could achieve peace only by isolating himself from people and by rejecting all responsibility toward society, he could never attain inner peace until he could accept himself and his own blood, both Negro and white.


Since Joanna was an overwhelming threat to Joe's sense of peace and order, he realized that he must murder her or be destroyed by her. But the murder wasn't one in cold blood. the flowery and symbolic rituals preceding the particular performance suggest that Joe is involved during a deep struggle with himself. The murder, rather than resolving his minor conflicts, severs him forever from any hope of becoming a meaningful a part of society.

It is significant that he doesn't plan to escape. He never leaves the vicinity of the crime. On the Tuesday after the Friday of the crime, he enters the Negro church and curses God. this is often the peak of his conflict. The white blood can not remain pacified and must express itself in violence. It remains now for Joe to return to terms with the conflicting elements within himself, and this will be done only within the circle of his own self; consequently, there's no need for Joe to go away the immediate neighborhood of his crime.

When Joe exchanges his shoes for the Negro's brogans, he seems to simply accept his heritage for the primary time in his life. And together with his acceptance of his black blood, Joe Christmas finds peace for the primary time in his life. Like Lena Grove, who always accepted her responsibility, Joe realizes now that so as to seek out peace, he must accept full responsibility for his heritage and actions. And again like Lena, when he accepts this responsibility, he finds peace and contentment, and he becomes unified with nature.
It is when Joe accepts his Negro heritage and recognizes that he can never shake himself that he breathes quietly for the primary time in his life and is suddenly hungry not . This recognition that he's not hungry becomes significant against the background of Joe's earlier life, which was crammed with a continuing struggle against hunger. That is, when he accepts himself, he symbolically becomes asleep together with his tormenting hunger and also he sleeps peacefully for the primary time.

With his acceptance of his responsibility and his recognition of his heritage, Joe can another time approach others. this is often revealed by the scenes which immediately precede and follow Joe's self-realization. within the first scene, Joe approaches a Negro so as to ask him the day of the week, and his mere appearance creates astonishment and terror within the Negro's mind. He flees from Christmas in utter horror. But immediately after Joe has come to peace with himself, he approaches another Negro who quite naturally and nonchalantly offers him a ride to Mottstown.
Joe's plight in life, however, isn't resolved. He could gain a partial truce with society by isolating himself from society; alternatively , he could attain a full acceptance of himself, but note that this was achieved while outside the community in complete isolation. Once he has recognized his responsibility, he must then return to the community. And once more within the community, he involves the belief that he can never be accepted by society. the belief of his complete rejection is formed more terrible by the wild rantings of his own grandfather, who demands his death." Thus, if old Doc Hines must persecute his own grandson, Joe realizes that there are often peace for him only in death. His escape finally, however, seems to be not such a lot due to the fanaticism of old Doc Hines, but rather due to the quiet persuasion of Mrs. Hines. Her appearance at the jail was probably Joe's final proof of the woman's got to destroy his individuality.

Doc and Mrs. Hines then contribute to Joe's death, since they set peaceful elements into contention again. Consequently, his escape is an shake woman and also an enquiry for peace and order through death. It is, therefore, logical that after his escape he runs first to a Negro cabin then to Hightower's house. Through Mrs. Hines, Hightower has become the symbol of hope and peace to Christmas, and in his look for peace through death, he chooses Hightower's house as his sanctuary during which he passively accepts his crucifixion. His failure to fireside the pistol is symbolic of his acceptance of his crucifixion and death and of his recognition that he can find peace only in death.

The killing and castration of Christmas at the hands of Percy Grimm implant in our memories the atrocities that man is capable of committing against his fellow man. Grimm becomes the acute potential of all the community when society refuses to simply accept its responsibility to mankind. Or as Hightower uttered when he first heard about Christmas: "Poor man. Poor mankind." That is, Joe's death isn't the maximum amount a tragedy for Joe because it may be a tragedy for the society which might allow such a criminal offense as
Grimm's to be perpetrated. In Grimm's act, therefore, we see the failure of man to achieve recognition, sympathy, or communion among other men and society's failure to simply accept man within the abstract.

But Joe's death wasn't vainly . Through his death and thru the birth of Lena's child, Hightower has attained salvation in life by arriving at an entire realization of his own responsibility. Earlier in life, Hightower thought that through suffering he had won for himself the privilege of remaining uninvolved in life. But with the looks of Lena, he becomes another time drawn into the active stream of life. This participation wasn't voluntary but forced upon him within the first instance (delivering Lena's child), but after rejecting Mrs. Hines's pleas, his second act (attempting to save lots of Joe's life) is entirely voluntary.

Originally the attraction of Hightower and Byron to every other depended upon both being isolated from the community; but as Byron becomes involved, he draws Hightower in also. Until after Lena gives birth, Hightower struggles to retain his isolation and advises Byron to try to to an equivalent . But Byron's involvement is just too deep. Hightower's struggle for isolation becomes more intense as he sees himself threatened with involvement, especially when he's asked by Byron and Mrs. Hines to lie for Joe Christmas' (and in Hightower's words, mankind's) benefit. His refusal is his last futile but passionate effort to retain his isolation.

But Hightower goes to the cabin and successfully delivers Lena's child. This act of giving life to Lena's child becomes symbolic of Hightower's restoration to life. Immediately after the act, he walks back to town thinking that he won't be ready to sleep, but he does sleep as peacefully as Lena's newborn child. He notices for the primary time the peaceful serenity of the August morning, he becomes immersed within the miracle of life, and he realizes that "life involves the old man yet." He views the birth as a symbol of excellent fortune and an omen of goodwill. Therefore, this act of involvement and responsibility has restored Hightower to the humanity .

This was Monday morning. Monday afternoon, Hightower is faced together with his second act of involvement when Christmas flees to his house for sanctuary. This violence which Hightower must face is his payment for recognizing his responsibility in life. But having assisted within the birth of Lena's child and having recognized his involvement in life, he can not retract. Therefore, having acknowledged a partial responsibility, he must now perform his act of complete involvement in life by attempting to assume responsibility for Joe Christmas.



And albeit Hightower fails Christmas, he has achieved salvation for himself. He doesn't realize this until afterward within the evening when the entire meaning of his life evolves ahead of him "with the slow implacability of a mediaeval torture instrument." and thru this wheel image, he sees that man cannot isolate himself from the faces surrounding the wheel. Man must become a neighborhood of the community and must assume responsibility not just for his own actions but also for the actions of his fellow man.

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