Trauma and Identity in William Faulkner’s Light in August

Asma Chahed


Throughout the history of the American South, the Civil War had a great impact on the defeated South which witnessed ˝a collective downfall˝ that led to a collective cultural trauma. Indeed, Trauma Theory is deeply linked to the ideologies incarnated in the region of the South and especially to the white male Southern ideology. Through writing trauma in Light in August, William Faulkner tries to represent his protagonist Joe Christmas as a ˝trauma victim˝ who is in a continuous quest for identity.  In this respect, this paper will attempt to study how the individual identity of Joe Christmas is shaped by the collective identity of his community. This paper will explore how Christmas challenges Jefferson’s strict classifications of identity as far as race and gender are concerned which heightens and exacerbates his individual trauma. Indeed, the current paper will unravel that Faulkner depicts a tragic representation of trauma that is undergone by his mulatto character in his ˝Trauma Process˝. There will be an attempt to argue that collective traumas are incorporated into the collective identity of the American South. This, in turn, mirrors Faulkner’s apocalyptic vision of the South as suggested in his book.


cultural trauma, trauma theory, trauma victim, individual identity, collective identity, trauma process.

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