The Dualism Of Joe Christmas Essay

1757 words - 8 pages

William Faulkner’s protagonist, Joe Christmas’ trajectory and immoral decisions become the Siren’s song that tip him over the stern of the boat that is his life. Christmas’ path takes turns and twists that create a taciturn man who has been brought into the world unwanted; then, he ruthlessly moves forward looking back at his past in order to make decisions for his future. Light In August parallels Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”, when Joe finds that he has reached a fork in the road and has to plan for kind of life he wants to lead, contradicting factors jumble his persona. This creates a dualism in Joe’s soul, wherein two sides of a man challenge him to try to make decisions for ...view middle of the document...

Milly maintained that she would be able to free herself and her child from her father, yet her son's story begins with his struggle even with his first breath. When Joe was born he was pure; a light from the heavens, but the transposition of his persona becomes apparent as his life is abridged by the decisions he makes. Joe hung a chair, his murder weapon, over his head. At that moment he lost all innocence, "The course destiny chooses is in a sense superfluous, for we are not dealing with the kind of fatality which manifests itself in a dramatic progression of events, from which we cannot add or subtract a single one without changing its entire passage, for to do so would be like saying that someone has not fulfilled his destiny.” Pouillon tells of the belief that a man finds himself on a path and makes a decision not in order to achieve his destiny or in a pre determined path, but instead Joe bases his choices when they appear in front of him. He kills McEachern and after has to think about his next move. Running away with bobby was no longer an option after she rejected his marriage proposal. He moves towards the road much like in Frost’s poem:
“Then took the other, as just as fair,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,” (Frost 6-10)
Joe Christmas begins to run, and running becomes his life, "But there was too much running with him [Christmas]: years, acts, deeds omitted and committed, keeping pace with him stride for stride, breath for breath, thud for thud of the heart, using a single heart" (Faulkner), Until he stops in Jefferson.
In essence, the third degree burns left by the abuseive fire released from McEachern fists turns Joe into a stone; an utterly aloof detachment of a normal human. As a result of the abuse seeping into his psyche Joe's soul becomes cold and detached. Christmas psychopathic tendencies create a wall that guards from dwelling on the abuse, the pain and instead move forward one step at a time and as opportunities show themselves, he sets forward to the feelings that he has been suppressing. The resonance of the importance of the choices he makes are not more than just a simple "this or that" not a profound analytical though about what to do. Joe does not stop to think about what will happen after he begins seeing Bobbi, or even after he kills his father. In an extraordinary way Joe unnoticing detaches his mind from his physical body and his corpse takes over control:
“Heavy emphasis on the alienation of Joe Christmas from his body. It's not Joe Christmas who's doing the walking. His body seemed to walk away from him. It's not Joe Christmas who's laying the razor on the table. It's his hands that are doing it and his hands that are striking the match to light the lamp. The action is coming strictly just from the fragmented body parts. Highlighting the utter passivity of Joe Christmas himself, it is as if his individual...

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