That Evening Sun: Literary Analysis

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“That Evening Sun” by William Faulkner is a good example of a great emotional turmoil transferred directly to the readers through the words of a narrator who does not seem to grasp the severity of the turmoil. It is a story of an African American laundress who lives in the fear of her common-law husband Jesus who suspects her of carrying a white man's child in her womb and seems hell bent on killing her. Many critics refer to "That Evening Sun" as one of the finest examples of narrative point of view. The story is told by Quentin Compson, whose voice Faulkner utilizes at two distinct times in the boy's life. First, we have 24-year-old Quentin remembering a 15-year-old episode concerning Nancy's fear of Jesus. This introductory point of view is then followed by the narrative voice of 9-year-old Quentin, who recalls the episode as he experienced it at that time. Within this narration, we have the emotionally contrasting adult voices of Nancy and Mr. Compson, Quentin's father. Faulkner uses these contrasting voices to merge themes that contribute to the story's richness. Included in these themes is the implied termination of Southern aristocracy. The Compson family is on a personal and social decline that loosely parallels Nancy's decline. The distinction between the rich and the poor, and, more important, the inequality and the prejudice found in the treatment of blacks by their white counterparts becomes very apparent An additional theme that can be clearly seen is the difference between the present and the past, and how that difference affects people in different ways. This can be seen by juxtaposing the first two paragraphs which describe the town of Jefferson in the present and in the past. The first paragraph portrays the town's present condition, the streets are paved, there is electricity, and black women still wash white people's laundry, but now they transport themselves and the laundry in automobiles. The second paragraph, like the first, is one...
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