A Study on the Self-Construction of Joe Christmas in Light in August

Rongying ZHENG, Xiaozhen TANG


On the basis of Lacan’s theories of Mirror Stage and Three Orders, the paper analyses the process of seeking and constructing of protagonist’s self-identity in William Faulkner’s Light in August, exploring the inevitability of self-lost. Joe Christmas has been abandoned in an orphanage by his grandfather since the day he was born because his grandfather has suspected that Joe has the black blood. Joe became aware of his black identity as a result of the verbal abuse of the word “nigger” in other’s mouth. After that, he has been searching for his identity in the thirty years of short life. However, in the conflict between the self in the mirror and the name of the father in the symbolic order, Joe, on the one hand, gradually admitted his black blood without hesitation in front of the outsiders, and on the other hand, he extremely despised the black blood in his heart. In the extreme alienation, Joe gradually lost self and eventually died. According to Lacan’s theory, the self always exists in the connection with the other, and establishes self-identity by obtaining recognition from the other. It will easily lead to the self-alienation once the relationship cannot be handled correctly. Joe’s tragic fate caused by failure construction of self-identity not only arouses the sympathy of the readers but also arouses people’s reflection about their own identity. Even in the face of abnormal beliefs about race, religion, and so on, people should complete the construction of self-identity and recover ourselves.


William Faulkner; Self-Construction; Three order

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/10716


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