Joe Christmas does not know whether he is black or white. Faulkner makes of Joe's tragedy a powerful indictment of racism; at the same time Joe's life is a study of the divided self and becomes a symbol of 20th century man.
Byron Bunch: A mill worker in Jefferson and the man who is initially misidentified to Lena as Lucas Burch, the father of her baby. In his thirties, hardworking, and devout, Bunch leads a quietly regimented life.
Joe Brown (a.k.a. Lucas Burch): A gambler, bootlegger, and con artist. Young and tall, with a distinctive white scar beside his mouth, Joe Brown first appears in dirty overalls in search of work at the mill. Lazy, yet alert to any situation he can turn to his advantage, Joe moves in a confident swagger but has the tendency to jerk his head to the side and to look periodically over his shoulder.
Reverend Gail Hightower: A defrocked minister in Jefferson. Tall, overweight, with skin the color of “flour sacking,” Hightower was once the minister of one of the town’s major churches. He sought the post because his grandfather, a Confederate cavalryman, was gunned down in Jefferson while stealing chickens. Described as a “fifty-year-old outcast,” he was forced to step down after his promiscuous wife died in a fall from a hotel window in Memphis.
Mrs. McEachern: A kindly woman who tries to protect Joe Christmas from her husband. She lies and tries to cover up Joe's activities, to prevent her husband from punishing the boy.
Joe Christmas: The novel’s protagonist, also known as Joe Hines or Joe McEachern. In his first appearance in the novel, Joe is a young man in his early thirties, dressed in creased serge trousers, a soiled white shirt and tie, and a stiff-brimmed straw hat. A wanderer, he has a rootless, overly independent quality to him that others frequently misinterpret as ruthlessness, loneliness, or pride. Biracial, he is often mistaken for—and “passes” for—a white man.
Mr. Hines (a.k.a. Uncle Doc): Joe Christmas’s biological grandfather. Uncle Doc is an unkempt, angry, and spiteful man whose violence and extreme behavior have landed him in jail more than once. Infamous for his crazed ravings, he uses his religious fundamentalism to justify his implicit belief in white superiority.
Book Review: In some ways, Light in August is the easiest to read of Faulkner’s major novels. We don’t get the shattered stream-of-consciousness narrative of The Sound and the Fury or Absalom! Absalom!, it doesn’t have the various viewpoints of As I Lay Dying, constantly shifting from family member to family member and it doesn’t have the sheer depth of evil and darkness that pervade every page of Sanctuary. That’s not to say it’s an easy book to dive into; just that if you are going to pick a major Faulkner novel to begin with, you would probably be best to start here and slowly wind your way through the paths of Yoknapatawpha County.
Wikipedia Article: Light in August is a 1932 novel by the American Southern author William Faulkner. It belongs to the Southern gothic and modernist literary genres. Set in the author's present day, the interwar period, the novel centers around two strangers who arrive at different times to Jefferson, Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi, a fictional county based on Faulkner's home, Lafayette County, Mississippi. The plot first focuses on Lena Grove, a young pregnant white woman from Alabama looking for the father of her unborn child, and then shifts to explore the life of Joe Christmas, a man who has settled in Jefferson and passes as white, but who secretly believes he has some black ancestry.
We’re hiding the errata, movie connections, books that influenced this book, books influenced by this book, books that cite this book and books cited by this book sections.
If you would like to add content to them, you must first make them visible.