In Chapter 11, Joanna tells Christmas the story of her family. Abolitionists with New England roots, the Burdens are tolerated but never accepted in Jefferson. Joanna’s grandfather Calvin and his namesake, her half-brother also named Calvin, are shot to death by Colonel Sartoris “over a question of negro voting.” Joanna is the only surviving member of the Burden family in Jefferson when Christmas arrives.
Tag Archives: Light in August
Foldables (as anyone who’s ever has Mrs. Parm for a class would know) can prove to be a very helpful study aid. We’ll be using a simple foldable to collect textual support for your seminar on Light in August.
First, consider some of the motifs Faulkner has been tracing throughout the novel. Obviously, race is a primary motif—how the races interact, what the common attitudes were at the time, how different characters react to questions of race, etc. Next, there is isolation. In what ways are the characters isolated from others? From the larger Jefferson community? Is this isolation self-selected or imposed upon them? Identity forms a core idea in the novel. How the characters identify themselves, or push against the identities placed on them by others, reveals much about their choices and actions. Finally, as in much of Faulkner, there is the role of religion. How does religion—the moral expectations of practitioners, the language, and its traditions—impact the morals, choices, and viewpoints of the characters?
The foldable will help you gather evidence about these motifs and help you create strong questions to use in our seminar when we conclude our study of Light in August. Create your foldable this way:
- Fold paper in half cross-wise (hamburger style).
- Draw a line down the center fold, both the front and the back.
- Label each section as follows: 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-21
- In each section, you will be recording two kinds of information:
- Quotes, examples, and instances illustrating one or more of the major motifs of the novel: race, isolation, identity, and religion.
- Connect each quote/example/instance to one or more of the characters.
- You will continue to add to your foldable as you read. This foldable will substitute for the character and scene pages of the Six Pack Sheet for Light in August.
Former Orlando Sentinel Books Editor Nancy Pate described William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County as “[a] fictional landscape…peopled by rogues and rednecks, farmers and townsfolk, descendants of soldiers, slaves and carpetbaggers. There are whites, blacks, mulattos, people of all ages. They have names like Snopes and Sutpen, Compson and Bundren, Sartoris and Varner, Benbow and McCaslin. They live on old plantations and tenant farms, in small hamlets and crossroads smaller still. Their stories–many of them intertwining–make up what Faulkner called ‘the tragic fable of Southern history.'”
Much like English novelist Thomas Hardy, whose “Wessex” is a fictional amalgam of real locations, Faulkner based Yoknapatawpha County on very real places. Faulkner lived for most of his life in Oxford, Mississippi. In Faulkner’s work, Oxford becomes the town of Jefferson, while the real Jefferson County is named “Yoknapatawpha” after the old Chickasaw word for the Yocona River south of town. The county is located in north central Mississippi not far from the Tennessee border. This 1947 map indicates the primary locations of several of Faulkner’s major works, including not only Light in August but also his masterworks Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and the Fury.
The second map, probably drawn in 1947 for Malcolm Cowley’s Portable Faulkner, is just one of a series that Faulkner created for each of his works. Characters, events, and locations in one work often make appearances in another. As such, many of the maps contain references not only to the current work, but other works that might have connections to it.