This is perhaps my favorite writing so far done by Faulkner. In this novel, he explores the prejudice Americans have against each other. Diversity in this country oftentimes is merely seen as a glorification of racism. Back in the days when this book was written, southerners didn’t like northerners which is why Miss Burden had to suffer so much. Not that she was a huge advocate of the north, but that her attempt to live a peaceful and honorable life at the south was denied because of her heritage. Residents in Mississippi, a typical southern state, are not willing to give her a second chance at life merely because of her heritage, instead of other wrongdoings she has committed before, reflecting the deep-rooted bigotry people used to have and still remain today.
Joe Christmas, my favorite character in this novel, is no different. His cold and even brutal personality is a product of his upbringing in an orphanage. When he once caught the dietician making love to a male doctor while vomiting because of eating too much toothpaste, he denied the bribery which the dietitian offered—one dollar. Later on, because of his biracial ethnicity, he was sent to a black orphanage by the janitor who always watched him but later recalled by the matron. Christmas was adopted and got his name changed to McEachern because his father, a religious man thought the name represented sacrilege.
Joe Christmas’s life reminded me of his sense of repugnance for this world when he didn’t belong anywhere. Since he never received love, he didn’t have much to give. He has no fear in life and fears himself to some degree. His mixed-race endowed him with endless audacity but also imposed extremely low self-esteem upon him. In modern days, perhaps the reason why there are so fewer personages who are not white is not because of their inability to do well and contribute to the country, but because they felt disparagement and disenfranchisement from white supremacists who might be discouraging from having confidence and speaking for what they believe in.
Light In August by William Faulkner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.