Racial Discrimination In William Faulkner's Light In August

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Light in August William Faulkner’s Light in August portrays the social alienation of African Americans in the South during the 20th century. The novel was based in the American South during the 1930’s, when racial tensions continued to surge. Faulkner exploited Joe Christmas, a biracial orphan, to represent the social prejudices African Americans faced. In 1896, the Plessy v. Ferguson case emerged in the state of Louisiana, where Homer Plessy was forced to sit in a “colored” car. Homer Plessy correlates with Christmas, because he was an “octoroon”, meaning he was one-eighth black by descent (Wittenberg 148). Christmas struggled with his racial identity throughout the novel. Faulkner highlights his appearance as both black and white: “He watched his body grow white out of the darkness like a Kodak print emerging from the liquid.” (Faulkner 46) This allows the reader to empathize with Christmas with his continuous struggle to interpret how he identifies himself. Along with the internal conflict, Christmas also faced an external conflict with Jefferson’s townspeople. Since he was a child, he experienced racial slurs and discrimination, which demonstrated the emotional abuse he experienced. In William Faulkner’s Light in August, the segregation and discrimination that was demonstrated throughout the novel exposes the physical and mental trauma African Americans faced during the 20th century. Contrary to many people’s beliefs, Light in August is not based off of Faulkner’s

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