• Amalie Rusborg Frederiksen
  • Dorte Jespersen
4. term, English, Master (Master Programme)
William Faulkner was an American author who lived in the southern states of the US. Faulkner saw a dichotomy in the South between marginalized Others, the Negro and female populace, as opposed to the authoritative white male patriarch. This dichotomy was part of the cultural heritage of the South in the form of internalized guilt over the discriminatory conditions of racism, classism and sexism. Faulkner saw this internalized guilt, also known as the sins of the father, as the reason why the development of the South stagnated after the Civil War and lagged behind the rest of the US. The white southern populace was guilt-ridden and the Negro, poor and female populace was in despair due to their restrictions. Faulkner created a microcosm in the form of a fictional county called Yoknapatawpha County to portray the social dichotomy of the South.
The aims of this thesis was to analyze how Faulkner illustrated the social dichotomy in the South between the Otherized identities, namely Negroes, poor people and women, through his novels and how this dichotomy of racism, classism and sexism created despairing identities which prevented the South from developing on par with the rest of the US.
We used Søren Kierkegaard’s theory of the despairing self and Jean-Paul Sartre’s theory of the Look as primary theories. W.E.B. Du Bois’ theory of double consciousness and Simone de Beauvoir’s theory of the second sex were used as secondary theories. For our method we have used textual analysis.
We have used four of Faulkner’s novels, Flags in the Dust (2012), As I Lay Dying (2004), Light in August (2005), and Absalom, Absalom (2005), for our primary material. The Sound and the Fury (1995) was used as secondary literature.
Through our study we have found that in his novels, Faulkner interprets southern identity as stagnant while the world around it progresses according to new modernized and humanitarian standards. He sees the southern individual as in despair incapable of changing this no matter what choices one makes in life. Faulkner sees the southern identity as suffering under the cultural heritage of Otherizing such as racism, classism and sexism. He presents these discriminatory social conditions as near impossible to exorcise, yet it is necessary to do so in order for the social conditions of the South to ever improve on par with the rest of the USA.
Publication date4 Jan 2016
Number of pages98
ID: 225147709