Light in August
Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. What rhetorical devices does Faulkner employ—dialogue/monologue, slang/dialect, diction, syntax, typography—in creating his fictional world? What is the thematic significance of appropriating these devices in the way he has?
2. How is religion portrayed in the novel, particularly as exemplified by the McEachern and Hines families? How does Reverend Hightower’s presence enrich or complicate the novel’s exploration of the subject?
3. What is the significance of the novel’s title?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. How does Faulkner tell his tale? In a linear fashion? What techniques and structural elements does he employ in unfolding and developing his plot, and why?
2. In what ways is Joe Christmas a Christlike figure? In what ways do his story and actions differ from the details associated with the life of Jesus?
3. Racism is a motivating factor behind several characters’ actions in the novel. Is racial politics a major thematic element of the novel, or does Faulkner use it only as a realistic detail, an essential part of the social fabric of the time and setting in which the novel takes place? What are the ramifications of Joe Christmas’s biracial background?
4. One of the novel’s major preoccupations is the relationship between the individual and society at large. In what ways does Faulkner explore this theme and why? What conclusions does he reach?
5. What is Joe’s relationship like with his foster parents and how does it potentially influence the adult he becomes?
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!