Figure 26: Essay Excerpt on Christmas, Light in August

Below is an excerpt that falls under the comment “Lacks Clear Continuity; Lacks Coherence.”

You may access the comment by clicking on the “L” category or by typing the title into the search box.

You may print the excerpt for class discussions.

Sample Excerpt

Secondly, Christmas doesn’t represent, physically, the image of a typical Negro in southern society.  He epitomizes the burden of miscegenation, because it is a problem that affects the histories of characters within the novel (and within all the novels being discussed).  It complicates the stories and Christmas’s history.  Every time he tells someone that he is part Negro, specifically in speaking to Joanna Burden, when they ask him if he is certain, he says in reply, “ ‘I don’t know it” (Light 240).  On the other hand, miscegenation also plays a significant function in Faulkner’s narratives in that it illustrates the possibilities in reconciling and repairing the division between black and white citizens.

It is, in fact, the cause-effect of a contradiction that is present within the south.  “Southern society typically and publicly abhors racial mergings through integration, cohabitation, or miscegenation.  Yet Faulkner’s narratives repeatedly present a world in which blacks and whites eat, live, and often sleep together despite Jim Crow laws and spoken categories of racial differentiation” (Snead 156). The contradiction lies in the narrative depiction of socially marginalized individuals, but also in the harmonic nature of the interpersonal relationships implicit within these lines. Faulkner paints a two-sided coin.  In one instance, he depicts the social constraints invoked by segregation. In another, he demonstrates the possibility of repairing continuity to communities, which works against his (the) role of a social genealogist.  Is Faulkner uncertain about the construction of his characters?  No, because each character still fits within a certain framework, in a social position. 

Figure 26: Essay Excerpt on Christmas, Light in August


1) Why does Christmas say “I don’t know it?”

2) Does Christmas deny or agree with the fact that he is a product of miscegenation?

3) If miscegenation affects the histories of characters within the novel, then how does miscegenation function as a bridge that closes the gap between the black and white citizens of the novel?

4) Isn’t Christmas supposed to know his heritage? If he doesn’t, then on what does he base his lack of knowledge?

5) What is miscegenation? Does Faulkner use miscegenation as a method or way of bringing two different social groups together? Or does Faulkner just present the south and its contradictions?

6) What is the connection between Faulkner’s characterization of Christmas and Christmas as a character who isn’t confident and/or certain about his background?

Copyright 2011 Regina Y. Favors. All Rights Reserved.

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