Summarize A Light in August by William Faulkner Research paper

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An essay on a Light in August summary examines William Faulkner’s Southern Gothic novel.

A perfect example of the Southern Gothic genre, William Faulkner’s novel A Light in August. Have one of the literature writers at Paper Masters custom write a summary on A Light in August for you so that you fully understand all the details of the story.

Faulkner’s tale tells the story of Lena Burch and her experiences in the fictional town of Jefferson, Mississippi. While searching for the father of her unborn baby, Lucas Burch, she learns of the murder of Joanna Burden, owner of a plantation; a man who lived in the slave quarters there, Joe Christmas, is believed to be the culprit.

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  • Setting – Jefferson, Mississippi
  • Genre – Southern Gothic
  • Main Character – Lena Burch
  • Author – William Faulkner

The story routinely moves back and forth through time, telling about characters’ relationships with one another and their role in the town. Information is provided by Byron Bunch, who serves as a narrator for a considerable portion of the novel. Joe’s past is revealed to the reader as a difficult one, marked with abuse and abandonment, racism and fear. He was cast out to an orphanage by a caregiver for fear he would reveal an incriminating secret; he was assaulted for wanting to run away with a woman he thought loved him.

In Jefferson, Joe is tried in the court of public opinion for the death of Joanna Burden; it is revealed to the reader that he did, in fact, have an intimate relationship with her. Joe’s backstory is further expounded, revealing the legacy of violence and victimization that befell his ancestors. His mother, Milly, was impregnated by a black man from a traveling circus; he was killed by Milly’s father, and Milly herself died in childbirth. Milly’s father then abandoned him on the doorstep of an orphanage, the origins of his difficult experiences.

By the close of the novel, Joe has been killed; Percy Grimm, a young man who was responsible for guarding the jail and town square, chased Joe as he entered the home of Reverend Hightower, the only person who could provide him with an alibi. Despite Hightower’s protestations, Grimm shot and castrated Joe, killing him. Lena once again departs Jefferson, still seeking the father of her now-born child. What appeared on the surface as a relatively idyllic town has shown its true colors of hatred and deceit, the hallmarks of a Southern Gothic novel.