Light In August by William Faulkner

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.

-Coreen C. 

Light In August by William Faulkner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

This novel, published in 1960 by Harper Lee, deserves every ounce of fame it has thus far received. Although the subjects that are addressed by the novel are shrouded by controversy, it addressed issues that needed to be addressed, such as racism and the crimes that can be committed under its name.

The novel is told from the perspective of six-year-old Caucasian Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. Her father, Atticus Finch, is the most reliable lawyer in her town, Maycomb. He takes on a case defending a black man who is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman, and this sends the entire population of their town into a frenzy. Scout and her brother, Jem, experience the metaphorical splitting of the town as everyone takes a side. They are attacked and harassed for the actions of their father.

The plot deepens and thickens, unfolding with an uncanny message: racism is a real issue, and it remains as such, even though To Kill A Mockingbird was first published in 1960. In fact, Scout and Jem are attacked at night and nearly killed in retaliation of their father’s case. The town is violently over-involved in Atticus Finch’s case, and most of its citizens actually attend the trial for sport and entertainment. People are quick to take sides and are adamant and passionate about whichever one they end up on.

To Kill A Mockingbird is also semi-autobiographical- Scout’s childhood is based loosely off of Harper Lee’s. However, Lee quickly became reclusive due to her book’s fame and all the attention it received. The novel was groundbreaking, but Harper Lee hardly did any interviews, book signings, or any public event of the sort. In fact, Harper Lee was barely involved in the making of the movie adaption of the novel, which became a box-office hit (it made over three times its budget!).

Overall, To Kill A Mockingbird is a magnificent literary tapestry, with intricately woven characters and artfully spun plots and subplots. It addresses issues that were relevant in its time and, some may argue, even more, relevant today. It is a novel that has affected people’s lives, in ways that are clear but also subconscious, and has educated many on the subject of racism amid the early 1930s.

-Arushi S.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive