Light in August, by William Faulkner, is a story of racial conflict in a Southern United States town. Faulkner's work is very unique because its structure presents only gradual revelations of information and consists of three different but interconnected plot threads. In this way, the narrative plots are circular because they build frameworks around the other plots. One of these three narratives focuses on the enigmatic character Joe Christmas. One of the most interesting things about Joe Christmas is the way Faulkner makes correlations that tie Christmas to religious ideals. This can be seen early in the book in Christmas' childhood and it continues until his death. Faulkner's treatment of Christianity in relation Joe Christmas is fascinating because Christmas does not seem like a good choice for a character to be described using religious terminology. Christmas does not seem like a very devout person at all. He leads a life of violence and crime, yet Faulkner makes several loose connections that liken him to Jesus Christ.
One of the immediate giveaways of Faulkner using religious language to describe Joe Christmas is his initials. Joe Christmas and Jesus Christ share the same initials. Faulkner intentionally makes this symbolic connection. In addition to their initials, Joe Christmas and Jesus Christ have somewhat similar stories about their early childhood through their death. Joe did not go around performing miracles, but he was left at the steps of an orphanage on Christmas day and both Christmas and Jesus die in their early thirties. These connections are very loose, but Faulkner does this for a reason. He wants to describe the story of Christmas in spiritual terms in order to confuse the moral character of Christmas. Towards the end of the novel, when Joe Christmas dies, his death too is described in religious expressions. Faulkner uses the language of rising and serenity when telling of Christmas' death. He even states the bullets from...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document