Light in August Essay

1518 Words7 Pages
In the novel Light in August, Joe Christmas and Joanna Burden are extremely damaged individuals. Both characters were raised in turbulent environments with an emphasis on religion. The sins they committed had a profound impact on them. They knew that their behavior was wrong but they were compelled to continue. Religion became a mental prison for them. A prison that they created but that they would never escape alive. Although Joe and Joanna viewed religion in completely different ways, they both lacked the capacity to forgive themselves because of their upbringing. For Joanna, religion was a source of comfort that was pushed on her by her father. Joanna was raised by puritans and she lives her life with a constant subconscious fear of…show more content…
(Lackey 66) McEachern was a tyrant who perverted the true meaning of religion for Joe Christmas. He saw it as his duty to convert Christmas to Christianity and to force him away from a sinful life. Christmas was essentially raised to hate what he became. His sin becomes a way for him to resist McEachern’s oppression but it also traps him. Joe Christmas was conditioned to believe that sin is wrong and by committing sins he was fighting everything that he had ever been taught. Joe was also subconsciously taught to distrust women. From his first experience with the dietician, all he knew was betrayal by the women in his life. His foster mother betrayed his foster father by attempting to help him. In his eyes, women were not to be trusted. The breaking point for Joe was Joanna’s pregnancy scare. To him it was the ultimate betrayal. “You haven’t got any baby, you never had one. There is not anything wrong with you except being old. You just got old and it happened to you and now you are not any good anymore”. (Faulkner 277) Joanna did not know what was happening to her body because she had never been taught. Joe however saw her mistake as an attempt at control. Her age made her useless to him and this realization destroyed her will to live. “Maybe it would be better if we were both dead”. (Faulkner 278) If she could not have Joe then she would kill him and then herself. Joe resolved to kill Joanna in order to escape her. “He believed with calm paradox that he was the
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