Date of Award

12-1-1998

Degree Type

Thesis

University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)

School

School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English

First Advisor

Charles Duncan, Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study of William Faulkner is to identify and examine the importance of the presence of a racial and sexual "other" (an increasingly central term in post-modernist criticism) and how its impact dictated the direction and thematic scheme of Faulkner's literature. In particular, through this mode of analysis, we see how racial and sexual constructs, stemming from preconceived mores, taboos, and images, could infiltrate even one of the most innovative and creative fictive imaginations of the 20th century.

The thesis focuses upon two of Faulkner's novels-Light in August and The Sound and the Fury. Both of these works, abounding in themes generated by blackness and femininity, present complex social issues of race relations and sexuality in a manner that redirects the literary focus from the non-white and/or non-masculine victim to the white oppressor's fear. Even though Faulkner seeks, in part, to dismantle stereotypes and discuss racial relationships openly, he, too, was inevitably affected by his own personal racial environment. Light in August and The Sound and the Fury were utilized in seeking the answers to the following hypothesis: Could Faulkner be influenced by his Southern atmosphere and personal fear so much that he has incorporated white patriarchal constructs into his writings, thus, fostering and perpetuating the process of marginalizing and oppressing those who are non·-white and/or non~masculine?

The conclusions drawn from the research suggest that although William Faulkner shows sympathy for the plight of African Americans and females, he is, nonetheless, constrained by the Africanist and feministic presence which pervades his imagination and, thus, is reflected in the works emanating from his white Southern background.

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