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A Study of Joe Christmas in Faulkner’s Light in August

A Study of Joe Christmas in Light in August

Joe Christmas’s eating disorder and antipathy to women’s sexuality (or to the feminine) in Light in August also can be traced back to the primal scene in the dietitian’s room. However, the primal scene is not the final piece of the puzzle in the novel. The primal scene is already given as a working condition for a further analysis of Joe’s psychology. Readers are first invited to interrelate the scene and Joe’s behavior in the rest of the novel.1 Yet drawing one-to-one relations between the primal scene and Joe’s symptomatic behavior merely repeats Freud’s theory for its own sake. The mechanic connection of the dots does not solve the most crucial problem of the novel, Joe’s racial identity. The primal scene, like a dream, asks for a further inspection of its undersurface – something distorted or untold. It also urges to expand the Freudian perception of the unconscious. The unconscious is not just a personal trashcan of one’s own repressed sexual energy. As Joe Christmas’s case proves, the unconscious is always already cultural and social. The unconscious is multiple and full of others. Focusing on the primal scene, this essay shall explore Joe Christmas’s psychology and the problematics of his racial identity.

The above excerpt is provided to allow the student a better understanding of the focus of the paper. The complete paper begins below:

We witness Freud’s reductive glee; we literally see multiplicity leave the wolves to take the shape of goats that have absolutely nothing to do with the story. Seven wolves that are only kid-goats. Six wolves: the seventh goat (the Wolf-Man himself) is hiding in the clock. Five wolves: h…

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…ginally published as Mille Plateaux, volume 2 of Capitalisme et Schizophrénie by Minuit in 1980 in France.

Faulkner, William. Light in August. New York: Vintage, 1990. Originally published in 1932.

Karl, Frederick R. William Faulkner: American Writer. New York: Ballantine Books, 1989.


1 Joe’s symptoms of anorexia nervosa, his dislike to objects, which remind of women’s genitalia, and his disgust at anything or anyone with feminine faculties are closely interconnected to the primal scene.

2 It is interesting that psychic determinism in Joe’s case opposes to Gavin Stevens’s theory of black blood and white blood. While the former attributes Joe’s symptoms to “nurture,” Stevens’s essentializing blood theory attributes to “nature.” The conflict between “nature” and “nurture” has become an important American theme.

Is Abortion a Right?

We Americans cherish our rights. Since the Supreme Court’s ruling in Row vs. Wade, a woman’s right to have an abortion has become the law of the land. Once a right to do something has been established in this country, it becomes near impossible to take it away. Pro-choice advocates accuse their opponents, pro-life advocates, of wanting to take this right away from women. It is a strong argument, and no doubt true, but if the right to have an abortion is ever taken away in this country, it will come from the pro-choice left, and not from the pro-life right.

As effective as the pro-life movement is, it finds itself in a near hopeless situation. The pro-life movement is defending the rights of the unborn — a constituency that has no lobby, no vote, no money, and no political power. This, plus the movement must now convince American women to give up a right — a right that many women fought hard for. The pro-lifers will lose this fight because in this country, the list of individual rights only expands, never shrinks.

What, after all, does it mean to have a right? In various forms this question is asked every day. A fundamental element of possessing rights is that one may exercise a right to do something, as long as it doesn’t interfere with another’s rights. Personal motives and reasons for performing actions that are within one’s rights to perform can’t be questioned. To put it another way, the reason for exercising a right may be completely stupid, arbitrary, and senseless, and as long as it doesn’t affect the rights of others, perfectly legal. For this reason, the pro-choice left, which has argued that a woman has the right to do with her body as she sees fit, and that a fetus is just fleshy tissue without rights, may fin…

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…man has for choosing it. When that happens, the left will be forced to admit that, no, women don’t always have the right to do with their bodies as they wish, and women will have lost the right to abortion.

Works Cited

“Abortion as Gay Bashing?” Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

“A Necessary Ban”. Times of India, August 6, 1994. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

Aravamuden, Gita. “Whose Baby Is She Anyway”. The Hindu, October 16, 1994. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

Basu, Soma. “Blow To Yet-To-Be-Born Baby Bazar Lobby”. The Hindu, July 28, 1994. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

Rao, Radhakrishna. “Marriage at a Price”. Asia Today. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

“Two Indian Men Sentenced to Death for Dowry Murder”. Reuters, January 23, 1997. On-line. Internet. October 27, 1997.

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