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William Faulkner

Faulkner wrote about: he was very conservative; he defended the south. The most
famous writer of the American south.

South famous: they defended slavery, original sin for which they had to pay. Everything
about slavery and the consequences of slavery. Abolition of slavery officially 1865 but
continued in other means and manifestations. When Faulkner wrote there was no slavery, it
had another name: racial segregation.

Faulkner is considered to be the 20th century American greatest write.

His novels are difficult and obscure, his explanation is simple: won the Nobel price,
winning speech, the problems of the human heart.

He is from a small town in Mississippi. Honour is a big thing in the south.

William Clark Faulkner, his grandfather wrote several novels, The white rose of
Memphis. He became big in business, killed by an associate, he himself killed two people
before. Extreme of white social class. The extreme of white social class they are called “white
trash” by other people from the lower white class.

South=extended families and oral stories, oral tradition. For Faulkner, the oral tradition
was important for his education as a writer. He was not a good student, dropped out of high
school, but was a very good reader.

Not very lucky in love, he became deeply distress when his childhood love married
another man, he wanted to go to the army to forget, he tried to enlist in the army but was
rejected because he was very small. Married another woman. Went to Canada as a British and
joined the Royal Airforce, couldn’t end his training because the war ended before he could do
anything. He went back wearing the uniform and sporting a limping… telling stories that were
not true, that he was a soldier injured during the war. Excuse for drinking: for the pain.

He went to university and did well in modern languages like French, but he wasn’t as
good in literature.

In 1984, he visited New Orleans where he met Anderson. He spends several months
there with Anderson and he advised him to write prose and not poetry and to use his regions
and locality for material in his fiction. In New Orleans, he ended his first novel and his second
one “mosquitos”,

“Sartoris” became “flags in the dust” in a later edition. It was in this novel where
Faulkner invented his mythical county: “Yoknapatawpha” original Indian word. Jefferson Is the
capital, fictional version of Oxford. Fictional county of La Faget County. Where he created the
things, they made him so famous: sexual identities.
The past, the power and the force of the past is very important in Faulkner. The past is
never death is not even past- requiem-. There is a repetition of the inescapable influence of
the past. The south is hung up on its past, the original sin of slavery and the oppression of
white women. The two things are interrelated; you can’t separate one from the other.

The novel is about the history of several generation of a distinguish, white family of
Mississippi, based on Faulkner’s family. He made a discovery: the south as a coal mine.

Faulkner wrote 20 novels and 15 out of them are set in the Yoknapatawpha county.

The sound and the fury: one of the best novels in the 20 th C. For him it’s his best. It’s
about the deterioration of a white family that used to be powerful. Every chapter is narrated
by a different character, conception of time, different style… The sound and the fury take
inspiration from a verse in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Second best novel, As I Lay Dying, He wrote it in only 6 weeks, vey innovated novel.
These two were the ones where he is more experimental. Tries to express the unexplainable of
human mind.

The most complex novel written by Faulkner, Absalom Absalom where he gives his
most complex presentation of what we call the southern myth the old south. It has different
speakers and it deals with a complicated family business who appears in the story. Thomas’
Sutpen family was a very poor family, he built and empire, a plantation out of nothing moved
by the obsession of wanting to create his own dynasty, his own legacy. It talks about the fall of
the American dream. Treat the theme of the Incest. Thomas has a

Two families: the Sartoris and The Snopes. The Snopes, pure whites, despicable, no
honour… The Sartoris, honour, high moral standards…. His father is a Snopes.

1950 he got the Nobel prize for literature.

1946 was a very crucial year: book by a critic that made Faulkner famous, before he
was not famous.

He wasn’t just a regionalist writer. He analysed the human conditions in novels set on the
south. His favourites themes were the old universal truths of love, pity, endure, prevail…

He was very important for the American cinema, he wrote scripts for several movies
that became classics: to have and have not, the big sleeve, the big sleep… He sold his novels
and books to cinema production: the long hot summer, based on some of his stories.
DRY SEPTEMBER

TITLE: Does the title mean something? is it talking about a difficult situation? Any
metaphorical meaning? How does it link to the main characters? Two main characters: Will
and Henry, and Mary Cooper. Are they living in the dry September of their lives?

Symbols: the dust, obsessively present.

It’s a brilliantly constructed story. The title suggests: the wasteland, people that are
oppressed by the social roles. Sartori develops around the image of a dry September. The
name of the manuscript version: DROUGHT. Our survival is in danger, what do we do? To kill
somebody that becomes what we call scapegoat (chivo esopiatorio). Persisting human
propensity to blame other people. In the America the Scapegoat was the blacks.

The intolerable hit, Mississippi is the Deep South, hot, before air conditioning.

Cloud of dust, suffocating dust: death, oppression….

The drought its moral and spiritual, it affects human being and their relations. Not
separated from the draught of social rules.

Something related to sex.

Rumours: probably not true, but all the white men in the barbershop believe. The real
motive of their reactions is not avenging the white woman that was attacked by black men,
they react that way because of social prejudice, the blacks are inferior, and they have to teach
them a lesson. You take a white woman word before a nigger.

Most of the whites in the barber shop are poor, they are inferior in the white social
class, but they feel a sudden power against the black. By starting the rumour, they provoke the
death of the black guy.

In a sense they are victims of the expectations of society, of social codes. Both are in
the dry September of their lives. Their situation is not nice in the present, it was better in the
past with their moments of glory. They would prefer to live in the past. They live in a fantasy
world.

In the story we learn about Cooper’s live, when she was popular in high school.

With the increasing of age, it’s difficult for her to sustain this image of herself; the
image that she is still sexually attractive, but with the clothes that she wears, the illusion that
she is still sexually attractive. It’s the dry September of her life, her attractiveness and fertility
are coming to an end. There is a social perception of women, even worst in the white upper
class, that they couldn’t do anything more than to be attractive to men, just not the ones that
are socially inferior, and to find a husband. They are limited by their sexual function. When
they are young, they are called Belles, and if they marry, they are called ladies, there is self-
sacrificing. They must play the game of being feminine, of being passive. They must be
intelligent but not intellectual. This is what they are train for. They are not allowed to make a
carrier of themselves, to exploit their talents. She needs to see herself as desirable, so she
wears provocative dresses, transparent underwear… To call attention to herself but at the end
she is only making fun of herself.

She decides to do something to change her situation and she invents that the black
man attacks her to atrack attention to herself as a sexual being, so she invents the rape
fantasy. In this fantasy she is sexually attractive still, she violates her because he finds her
attractive if he didn’t, he wouldn’t rape her, this fantasy related to the movies. She goes to the
movies and she is forced to confront reality, that she is not pretty, young and desired by men
anymore. The realization it’s so strong that she has a nervous breakdown of laughter, a
hysteria attack. The reality that she is too old, that she is not young anymore is suddenly too
real.

Her fantasies are related to and influenced by the Hollywood dream fantasies, young,
beautiful and melodramatically sad. The realization that she remains single, in a society where
the heterosexual couples are the norm, it’s a social need that Hollywood creates.

The white male, he is also the victim of rigid social roles. What is the role he takes?
Brave, honourable men, he is the defendant of women, of white women. The one who
protects the purity of the southern white woman always threaten by the black beast, they
portrait blacks as sexual predators.

There is a double meaning in the word purity on the south: sexual purity of the
woman, and the race purity (mixed between blacks and whites destroyed it); to have a
relationship between white women and black men is illegal. Myth of racial purity and the myth
of the purity of white women, everyone became a victim of these: the black men, the white
women and even the white men.

Black men were a threat to the white male, a threat mainly for poor white males.
Sexual threat, the white males were very insecure about their sexuality, and an economic
threat, they took jobs the white wanted.

The story starts on the barber shop. If you don’t believe the story you will be called a
Northerner. You cannot mention the possibility that the white woman in lying. If you do, you
are considered to be a traitor of the white race. They are not defending meanie because the
black man “raped” her but to maintain the white supremacy. Makes them prisoners of the old
social traditions.

The blacks as a collective and not as individuals teach them a lesson, a lesson of
inferiority. They need to be worn; from time to time a black man needs to be killed so they are
reminded that the whites are superior. The white superiority cannot be questioned.

McClendon had his moment of glory, in the war he was admired, he was condecorated
for bravery. His house is described as small, as a bird cage, indicating he is oppressed in some
aspect. He doesn’t like his wife anymore… They get together, and their pass time is to get
together and lynch a black man.
Last section concentrates in McClendon, a macho man, a protector of white femininity.
He goes back home, and we see that the defender of the white women is a wife beater. Not
children in the marriage, is he impotent, is he sterile?

Last paragraph, this issue of abandonment, of despair…. This abandonment of


humanity. The animals who never close their eyes are the snakes. Maybe this people are like
snakes. A lot of hissing sounds, they cannot look inside themselves.

Burn Burning
The best story written of the 19.

It has a different moral conflict, the principal conflict resides in the boy, in the
relationship between the son and the father. The whole story is narrated through the
point of view of a 10-year-old boy.

The father and the family are described in the first line of the story as “the old
(…) blood”.

There is a MORAL CONFLICT in the sense of JUSTICE. About telling the truth and
the respect for the integrity of others.

The boy is divided between his father is a poor white, a sharecropper, that lives
in a cabin in a land not owned by him and that he pays with part of the crops and
money and Mayor De Spain. With whom does the boy associate his ideals? With his
father, a poor white who has to pay to live where they do, in a small cabin, with part of
the crops he plant in the land of the owner, or with Mayor De Spain, someone that has
impressed him with just once glance at the glorious plantation he owns.

The father is someone who fights anybody that offends him. However, he does
not fight only rich people, he burns the barns of both rich and poor.

In page 10, when the boy sees the house for the first time is impressed, ever his
father says so “He has never seen a house like this before (…)”. The house is even
bigger than the courthouse that represent justice. He thinks the house is “full of
peace”, he is searching for peace and joy, and they can only fin it away from his dad.

The description of both the house and the father is a big revelation for the boy,
it’s important for him and his initiation in life. He is going to be someone who is not
going to be affected by the violence of the father.

The description of the father shows images of intensity represented throughout


the story “The impeccable limb”, the metallic images to describe him “as if his image
will cast not shadow”, the devil doesn’t cast a shadow, this shows that he has satanic
qualities: the love of fire, define of the law, the lack of respect for the law….

A house that was built in the sweat of blacks and poor whites, this shows an
abuse of power and corruption. A figure from the high class, a prototypical southern
plantation owner, the exploit everybody. This helps to explain the obsession of the
father with integrity, he will not be pushed around. Qualities that in the abstract are
admirable, shows the conflict with social classes. The father sees himself as a victim of
society.

“The plantation is built on niggers’ sweat”

He makes the reader know things the boy is too young to understand. Like the
element of fire, as an instrument for the preservation of personal integrity. He
becomes violent every time he feels he’s been pushes around.

Description of the boy’s father: blackness, coldness, metallic imaginery


stiffness, his cold violence, alienation from nature, dedicated to abstractions; strong
integrity, he became inflexible, unable to blend, blackness make him evil but also the
cold, the lack of feeling, alienation from feeling….

The father demands from the boy complete and total submission, but the boy is
starting to develop a mind of his own. At the end of the novel he has moved from the
perspective of his father to a new one. The obsession of the father with integrity
makes him blind of society needs, of the needs of the boy.

The end of the story is the last to paragraphs. Does the father die? Is the boy
convince that the father dies? Is that what explains his feelings? The father is dead, we
and the boy hear two shoots. The mayor had noticed that the boy’s father was going to
burn the bar. The father is either dead or felt behind with the rest of the family.

A new phase in the boys life begins, and it starts at midnight. However, there
are things that remain the same like the darkness (the dark woods). I a metaphorical
sense the boy end up being a bar burner; in the south you become a barn burner when
you leave home.

The boy is being mistaken about the father “He was breve”: this is a lie, the
father didn’t go to the war to fight, but steal, wearing not uniform with no fidelity, it
meant nothing to him.

The boy is feeling hungry, the story is about his spiritual hunger.

A new day a new beginning represented by dawn.

“He did not look back”: shows a drastic break with the past, with his father… In
the old testament, Abraham’s wife is instructed not to look back or she will turn into
salt. We leave him in this part, and we don’t know a what his future life is going to be
like. Here we also have the cold, the stiffness… something of his father that will always
be with him.

The boy is walking, he is moving into life, his moving into a complex and hard
word. There is an implicit clash of opposites, the emphasis on individual freedom, of
the will, the boy is empowered but we have the opposite: the weight of the past, the
influence of the past, a Naturalistic idea related to determinism.

However, there is hope for the boy, working will were off the stiffness, the
cold… Moving on will separate him, from his father. The immersion of the boys in the
Nature contrast with the metallic imagery used by the boy to describe his father.

Wash
Action takes place in just one day, Sunday, “five years after the end of civil war”
(1869/1870). Story pays close attention to the movement of the sun in the sky, how
time passes by. Flashback to the past of the relationship between Thomas and Wash
(protagonist of the story). Scythe, the one Wash uses to kill Thomas, at the end, to
confront that powerful man.

Story is about Wash, at the beginning he isn’t aware, but he becomes aware at
the end of the story, and changes everything.

Theme of the story: relation between wash that is at the very bottom of society
where white supremacy rules, and then there’s Thomas that in the story represents

Story is about Wash coming to awareness, story begins at dawn, another


meaning when you use it as a verb means when having preposition “on”, it means to
come to acknowledge, to achieve inside.

This is a story about dawning, something that changes in Wash (who is the
protagonist).

Thomas is important, there are some things in him that the reader can read
that have Wash blinded. Story is about the end of this illusion, the destruction of this
fantasy, that Wash has been entertaining, about Thomas, that idealization of Thomas,
turning him into a God and a myth.

The issue of time is crucially important in the story, both structural and
thematically. written in 1932 and published in 1934. Faulkner was one of those
authors that rather liked to write short stories so he could earn money easily. Later he
included a revised version of this story in “Absalom, Absalom”. horses and men riding
them: very important in the story and they represent power (among other issues),
superiority… they are seen at the beginning, when Thomas in his horse exhibiting his
way of riding and comes to see a woman that has given birth, this woman happens to
be wash’s granddaughter, “well Millie that you are not a ————“ he says this
because he wanted a boy that could inherited his plantations, instead a girl is born.
Wash gets to hear those words that Thomas says and comes to see the truth about
him. The final scene again men riding horses, coming to arrest Wash for killing Thomas.
Horses at the begin and the end of the story.

Passage p. 538. (about the dream and illusion) Disappearance of this illusion
that has been betrayed, this is a story about the American south that is full of injustice.
The illusion that is expressed in the image of all the powerful men riding a horse. Story
about Wash realizing after he hears those words I the end of the story that Thomas is
immoral, that figure that he had romanticized turn out to be dishonest and immoral.

Thomas is a powerful figure, very powerful. He is the representative of


southern aristocracy; he is made into a myth by Wash and is identified with God and
then turns out that Was himself loses faith in this God.

Wash idealizes Thomas because wash has a desperate need to identify himself
as Thomas, Thomas doesn’t consider wash his friend, he has never ever cared about
him, never conserved Wash as an equal. At the end Wash realizes all of that, he builds
his identity by worshiping Thomas as a hero, he uses this fantasy to escape from
reality, an intolerable reality of his place at the bottom of society, related to one of the
myth in the south, the myth of white supremacy. So, both of them need to believe in
this myth of supremacy. Wash is terrible alone, isolate so they keep each other
company for those 4-5 years. Wash deludes himself about his relationship with
Thomas and his position in society.

Interprets the bible, he has to read that by being white he is superior to those
blacks in the plantations.

Connexion between theme and time, story in which theme of time and passage
of time are related to wash’s incapacity to distinguish reality from fantasy, as long as
he persists in his dedication to myth and legend, he won’t acknowledge the passage of
time. Very important caused the story is about wash at long last coming to reconcile
himself with the passage of time, the passage that changes everything, the one that
shuts all illusions.

Action of the story extends form the darkness before dawn to the darkness
after sunset, the day begins with a new life, the birth of this baby and at the end Wash
kills Millie and the baby and then indirectly he does commit suicide. The end of the
story is about darkness and at the end the story
———.

Moving literal and figuratively form the darkness before dawn through the
bright light of ——— and then again to darkness.

Before dawn Wash is living in ignorance, then he hears the words that Thomas
says and thinks about them, and then he realizes the truth, it is the time of dawn to
coming to awareness, reaching and understanding. What happens in Wash’s mind,
consequences of the passage of time, he comes to see things like that fact that neither
of them is as young as themselves thought to be. Remarks about the baby and Millie,
when the sun is up thinks about this and when the sun is up kills Thomas.
Consequences about wash’s recognition of truth. Facing the truth brings despair and
eventually leads wash into the eternal darkness of death, despair that is brought by
Thomas.

Reasons for everything and the background that they need to get to know the
present of the story is explained to the reader in the flashback that constituted the
second ———- of the story.

Wash jones is a withe trash, in some respects he is inferior to the blacks that
look at him down in the plantation. Thomas used him as a companion to drink.

Wash identifies himself with ———- as this identification brings him some
sense of security and deep down, he knows about the blacks but prefers to keep that
knowledge under key. He knows. That the blacks are better house that him. All those
things that for many years he has refused to acknowledge that Thomas has never
cared about him.

The two passages should be connected and contrasted 1st about dream made
illusion and the 2 about reality, when wash spends his eyes to reality.

Wash the real world of the blacks laughing at him an illusion and the opposite,
the dream into reality. Actual world was this one across which his own lonely
apotheosis seemed to gallop on the black thoroughbred, thinking how the Book said
also that all men were created in the image of God and hence all men made the same
image in God's eyes at least, fantasy into turning to Thomas himself. Passage where
wash identifies himself as Thomas, glorifies Thomas and someway himself. How he
finds a place for himself due to the social need that he has.

Brilliant image that expresses so many things and gives to many connotations.
Image of what Thomas has been for Wash, not a reality, an image that combines the
bravery of Southerners in the civil war, power of the plantation owner, about
patriarchy, God the ultimate patriarch. Raised to the idea of God…
This is the thing, from time to time Wash has misgivings of Thomas, like him
taking advantage of Milly, he forgives him and has no problem with that. And I know
that whatever you handle or tech, whether it’s a regiment of men or a ignorant gal or
just a hound dog, that you will make hit right F has ho find the way to make the
blindness of wash’s faith on Thomas. In the story f shows the reader how wash is
deluding himself and ignoring all the changes that took place in Thomas after the war.

Another thing that disturbs Wash is that he took advantage of that girls and
that when the baby is born there’s another disappointment, as a girl is born when they
wanted a boy that could change everything. There’s obviously personal and material
interesting Wash maybe consciously allow this relationship to go on as he thought that
he could benefit from this.

p. 543: “thinking for the first time in his life that perhaps Sutpen was an old
man like himself”, very important, it has taken wash that long to realize that fact.

p. 547: realizes the truth about Thomas and all the men that are like him in the
world, all the southern aristocrat that lead the region into war. Wash comes to the
conclusion that he is nobody, there’s no hope for him… he results to violence with the
scythe, this is the only means to preserve some of the pride that he has falsely
asserting all his life by idealizing Thomas. Now he has discovered the illusion about
Thomas and react against everything Thomas represents. social order that he
represents at the bottom.