Light in August

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Nothing really seems to work out in William Faulkner's Light in August. Lena opens the novel searching for the father of her child, and at the end finds herself without any steps forward. Byron Bunch wants to marry Lena, but she is only concerned with finding her baby's father. Byron helps to tell the reader another story where a girl's relationship with a circus man gets her in trouble, and produces a son named Joe. Joe Christmas, our protagonist, has led a rather pointless, volatile life and ends up shot dead at the end of the novel. The commonality between all of these messes is that some form of masculinity caused them. Masculinity is twofold in its importance: one part is to reproduce, and the other is to dominate. Faulkner reveals masculinity's duality as solely problematic, as an animalistic trait that no longer need exist. But, despite the negative consequences of over-masculinity, it is rewarded. Joe Brown gets off scot free after impregnating Lena and Joe Christmas lives selfishly for his whole life, while Byron Bunch is left desperate for Lena's affection at the end of the novel. The theme of masculinity is best revealed through 3 characters: Joe Brown, Byron Bunch, and Joe Christmas.

Joe Brown is the first masculine character that is mentioned, if only by the wrong name. Brown demonstrates both parts of the Faulkner male, both dominating Lena's thoughts and drives and reproducing through Lena's sex. Brown, originally identified as Lucas Burch, throws a wrench into the entire novel by exercising his masculine drive to reproduce.
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