Community Light in August

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Community in Light in August

Most scholars view community as one of the most important themes in Faulkner’s novel, Light in August. Faulkner’s story is based on the community of Jefferson, Mississippi. The characters that Faulkner focuses on are mostly isolated from the community. Instead of Faulkner showing characters that are one with the community, the majority of his novel involves the character’s isolation from Jefferson and the rest of its population. Through the stories of Gail Hightower, Joe Christmas, and Joanna Burden Faulkner emphasizes the uniting of the community against these three characters.

Gail Hightower, the county’s reverend, was eventually taken from his position due to a scandal with his wife. His wife had brought about the scandal. Mrs. Hightower had been with another man many times in Memphis. The county found out about this because she had been found dead in Memphis. Even after hiding his wife’s behavior for so long, the community of Jefferson found out about her actions and punished Gail for it. He was taken from his reverend position and isolated from the community. Once isolated, Gail Hightower did not feel the need to move away. He stayed in Jefferson and rumor had it that he had become involved with an African American woman. This drove him further and further away from being a part of the Jefferson community ever again. The small county of Jefferson was heavily divided based on race. This is evident within the case of Joe Christmas and he is assumed to only be part black. Christmas never acts the way that people would expect him to. The people of the county assume that he acts according to whichever “race” he assumes he is that day. It is said that he does not conform to the social norms of white or black people. However, through reading Light in August, it is clear that Christmas is struggling with his identity. This eventually leads to his isolation from the community.

The lack of strength in Joe’s identity does not...
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