Light in August by William FaulknerLight in August, a novel that contrasts stark tragedy with hopeful perseverance in the face of mortality, which features some of Faulkner’s most memorable characters: guileless, dauntless Lena Grove, in search of the father of her unborn child; Reverend Gail Hightower, a lonely outcast haunted by visions of Confederate glory; and Joe Christmas, a desperate, enigmatic drifter consumed by his mixed ancestry.
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Light in August: Chapters 1-2
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Twenty-year-old Lena Grove arrives in Mississippi on foot. She is pregnant and has been traveling for four weeks to get there. Lena has come to Mississippi all the way from Alabama, and she's looking for Lucas Burch, the father of her child. As Lena rests in a ditch on the side of the ride, Armstid happens upon her in his wagon and offers her a ride. After chatting for a while, Armstid offers to let Lena spend the night with him and his wife, even though he knows his wife is probably going to throw a fit!
Light In August
She was their youngest living child and her brother, McKinley, took her to his home after their father died. He works in the mill, as did all the men in the village, and he is 20 years her senior. She leaves the home by the window to meet her lover and falls pregnant. When her brother notices, he calls her a whore and she insists that he Lucas Burch, the father of the unborn child will send for her as he promised even though he departed six months previously. The narrative shifts to the men as Armstid makes Winterbottom an offer on his cultivator and Winterbottom rejects it. Armstid drives on and sees Lena sitting in a ditch.
During the course of the novel, Faulkner will investigate several varied themes connected with modern civilization. Some of the dominant ideas in the novel involve 1 man's isolation, 2 man's relationship to the community, and 3 man's inhumanity to man. Many of these ideas will appear to be negative or pessimistic when viewed from the standpoint of the main character, Joe Christmas. But by focusing on Lena Grove at the beginning, Faulkner is first giving us a brief positive view. While it is true that Lena is now isolated and alone on the road, she almost instinctively knows that people will help her even though, as with Mrs. Armstid, some of them don't approve of her.