Archetypal symbolism in William Faulkner's Light in August
Penfold, Judith E.
SubjectFaulkner, William, 1897-1962.
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The following paper is an investigation of the extent of the archetypal symbolism in one of William Faulkner's greatest novels, Light in August. It proceeds from a definition of archetypal symbolism combining major literary, psychological and philosophical points of view to an application of the definition to the novel in order to develop the theme of community. Joe Christmas is discussed as the god who is sacrificed for the rebirth of the spiritually starved community. He is Northrop Frye's pharmakos trying to escape a demonic world and find his proper destiny. The Reverend Gail Hightower is treated as a community member who achieves awareness of his failure to understand himself as part of the community in an apocalyptic vision following Christmas' sacrifice. In the last section, Lena Grove is seen in an innocent timeless world as an embodiment of the values and possibilities for the endurance of mankind in community.