Light in August, Faulkner’s fifth Yoknapatawpha novel, brings together, in and near Jefferson, characters with varying backgrounds and personalities but with one common bond—they all have deep-seated problems. Lena Grove arrives in town from Alabama, pregnant but unmarried and in search of Lucas Burch, the father of her child. She finds instead Byron Bunch, a good man who is timid and withdrawn. Burch, using the name Brown, has just burned Miss Joanna Burden’s house to cover her murder by Joe Christmas, who killed Joanna after being her lover for three years. Joe had lived at her place while being partners with Brown in the bootleg whiskey business.
Gail Hightower, a defrocked minister who withdrew from society after its rejection and mistreatment of him, now has a different religion: ancestor worship of his grandfather, who fought in the Civil War. Hightower is friends with Bunch, who involves him with Lena (he delivers her baby) and with Joe (he lies when Joe takes refuge in his house, attempting to prevent the fugitive’s murder at the hands of his pursuers). The leader of the three-man posse pursuing Joe is Percy Grimm, a deputized young man who has a storm-trooper mentality years before Adolf Hitler’s rise to power. He shoots the armed Joe Christmas and mutilates his body.
Much of the novel is devoted to the events and people that have influenced Joe’s character. The son of a Mexican (or black) carnival worker and Doe...
(The entire section is 520 words.)