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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The home front in Faulkner's war fiction
by Wylie, Roxann, M.A., Tennessee Technological University, 2009, 81; 1474653
Abstract (Summary)

William Faulkner's Light in August, "Two Soldiers," and "Shall Not Perish," display how war can have harsh consequences on Americans living at the home front. Faulkner relies on both a psychological and societal definition of the phrase "home front." In these three works, Faulkner does not describe any of his characters serving in the war; however, he illustrates that war has remarkably disturbed people residing either decades removed from a particular war or thousands of miles away from the fighting. The indirect effects of war tragically change the family situations of these characters left at home during the war.

The characters in these stories suffer from psychological problems caused by the aftermath of war. In Light in August, the Civil War has upset Gale Hightower's family creating mental disruption that Hightower cannot conquer. Hightower has the inability to muddle through his emotional pain deriving from his family's past, so instead of conforming to his society, which also suffers from Civil War repercussions, Hightower recreates an imaginary Civil War home front within his mind. Although Hightower did not fight in the Civil War, his mental instability comes as an indirect result of war evolving from memories of his grandfather serving as a Confederate Soldier.

In Faulkner's two short stories "Two Soldiers" and "Shall Not Perish," Major de Spain and members of the Grier family attempt to bear the depressing consequences of war. Although the members of these two families desire peace, they cannot avoid war, even when they try to ignore it. In "Two Soldiers," the Grier family hopes that life will remain quiet in their small Mississippi town, but the loss of their son forces them to realize that they cannot escape the reality of the Second World War.

The plot in Faulkner's next war story, "Shall Not Perish," also centers around the Grier family, but Faulkner uses this story to display that fighting overseas still causes devastation to many Americans back at home. Faulkner portrays the families of different economic and social backgrounds to convey that war affects all classes of society; no gender, race, or class can escape the fighting, and the tragedies caused by it hurt and equalize everyone involved.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Burduck, Michael L.
Commitee: Baker, Tony, Kemp, Homer
School: Tennessee Technological University
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Tennessee
Source: MAI 48/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: American history, American literature
Keywords: Faulkner, William, Light in August, Shall Not Perish, Two Soldiers, War, World War II
Publication Number: 1474653
ISBN: 978-1-109-69324-9
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