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Paper Topic:

The struggle for a coherent sense of identity as reflected in Faulkner’s Light in August

`Joe Christmas ' as depicted by Faulkner in `Light in August

A Victim of his Struggle for a Coherent Sense of Identity


John L , Jr . Longley has emphasised : Above all , how can a human so conditioned , so utterly predestined to violence and death ever be called free : free to choose and free to act or not act ? Actually this was the dilemma faced throughout his life by Joe Christmas , one of the lead characters in the Novel `Light in August ' written by William Faulkner (1932 . Throughout the novel , Joe Christmas travels in pursuit

of his biracial identity and that lands him in an insurmountable turmoil in which finally he loses himself . This attempts to examine the factors that were responsible for making Joe to arrive at various choices and actions in the course of his life . While detailing the characterization of Joe Christmas , the also makes an attempt to show that the behaviour and outcome of Joe 's life was not initiated by his actions but he was predestined to meet with his tragic end through the traverse of his life journey

Light in August 's main protagonist , Joe Christmas is the most mysterious characters in the novel . Throughout the novel , his thoughts about his belonging to both the black and white worlds make him unsettled and represent him as a confused person about his self . His characterization is done in such a way that it represents a shadowy figure of an angry man , never satisfied about his racial origin . Though Faulkner provides many details of Joe 's life and character over the course of his tale Christmas still remains a distant , inscrutable figure , closed and elusive (Sparknotes

The character Joe Christmas remains in the whole story as a man who has lost his identity and is always in the search of am imaginary place to which he thinks he belongs to . He is presented as a person who even has forgotten his name and racial heritage because of his birth to a mixed race parents . Joe Christmas is left to be grown up in orphanage by his grandfather Doc Hines . He has the most of the looks of a white gentleman . As per the critical analysis of Faulkner 's work by Kazin (pp150-152 ) Joe Christmas has always been a man in pursuit of his identity and tries to find out the kind of the man in him self . The sole reason for Joe to be in the midst of his identity crisis throughout his life was his grandfather . Being a former preacher , he is a racist mania whose life was spent in hitting at Negroes and branding them as guilty in the eyes of God and their bound by birth to white men . He killed the `Mexican ' circus hand with whom his daughter eloped . After his daughter 's death while giving birth to Joe on a Christmas Eve , he leaves the baby on the steps of an orphanage . He later on takes the job of a janitor...

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