Faith in Faulkner's Light In August Essay

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Faith in Faulkner's Light In August

Religion is a big part of the southern world that Faulkner creates in Light In August. It is also a major theme of the novel. Most characters seem to use “Lord” and “God” very often in their dialogue, which shows that religion is never forgotten by the members of this society. Light in August portrays a type of religious fundamentalism. In this fundamentalism, among the people of the south, there is only one proper way of following and implementing religion in one’s life. Characters are constantly trying to justify killing, hatred, and racism through their faith. The creation of hatred and racism is the result of each character’s belief that theirs are the only genuine beliefs and therefore,
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McEachern because of his failure to memorize the “Presbyterian catechism” (147). These routine whippings desensitized Joe towards pain and violence and consequently receiving them did not have any effect on him (149). Mr. McEachern used violence to teach Joe religion, which are two complete opposites. Eventually, as a child, Joe began to view religion as the cause of his pain. He refused to learn anything religious because the punishment and pain he received from McEachern because of it was enough to make him hate it.

Mr. McEachern saw severe punishment as the only solution to an eight-year-old boy’s inability to memorize and learn his religious beliefs. He believed that his job was to teach Joe his religion even if it meant by force, hence, his means to achieve this goal was severe physical punishment. Mr. McEachern did not know of any other way of dealing with his frustration but to punish the little boy for it, as he saw in this boy his own inability to do God’s work and his failure. Consequently, because of this violent and forceful implementation, at such a young age Joe begun to see Mr. McEachern and “his” religion as his enemies. Furthermore, at the moment on page 160 when Joe returns home late, bruised, after the fight with his friends when he attacked the woman, McEachern simply asks Joe if he left any marks on the people that fought with him. He does not ask Joe why he was fighting or who he was fighting with? From

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