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Title:Faulkner's Marginal Couple and the Community
Author(s):Duvall, John Noel
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, American
Abstract:Unions of men and women at the margins of the community in Sanctuary, Light in August, Pylon, and The Wild Palms disturb that community's sense of itself. These alternative couples challenge mainstream Faulkner critics' assessment of gender, which derives largely from Cleanth Brooks's argument that Faulkner created active men who follow a code of honor and passive women who are close to nature.
Chapter One demonstrates the foundational role within Faulkner studies of Cleanth Brooks's commentary and argues that, since his criticism popularized Southern Agrarianism's ideology, Faulkner critics engaged in aesthetic criticism may perpetuate ideas with which they would consciously disagree. I suggest a method of reading ideology not only in four Faulkner novels but also in the interpretive discourse surrounding them.
Chapter Two takes Light in August as a challenge to Brooks's idea of community. The love between Joe Christmas and Joanna Burden and Lena Grove and Byron Bunch presents alternatives which question the values of the mainstream community.
Chapter Three considers Sanctuary, which, unlike Light in August, has marginal couples that do not live alternative values; rather they subvert the community's values by appearing to be marginal. The lived experience of Sanctuary's marginal couples suggests that the paradigms of male-female relationships are rape and prostitution.
Chapter Four compares The Wild Palms to Light in August. Like the earlier novel, The Wild Palms employs a tragic and a comic plot to tell a single story. "Wild Palms" and "Old Man" form an intertextual space that questions the social construction of gender.
Chapter Five considers Pylon's examination of communal possibilities outside the traditional family. The lost paternity of Jack Shumann (the child of Roger Shumann, Laverne, and Jack Holmes) threatens patriarchal order; Roger's love for Laverne and her child transcends a cultural demand that fatherly love be contingent on the certainty of one's fatherhood.
Chapter Six addresses a question implicit throughout the study: Why does a man call a woman a whore? After constructing a semiotic square of subject positions women as sexual beings occupy in Faulkner's world, the chapter describes atemporal rules governing transformations among positions.
Issue Date:1986
Description:204 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8701479
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1986

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