That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3134 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Children

¶ … Faulkner, it is understood that the world his stories create is one that is rich with the kind of sparse detail that Hemingway loved, is filled with the dark view on humanity that so marked Flannery O'Connor, and is as striking as any painting by Francis Bacon. Faulkner lived in a literary world where reality and tales spun on the fringes of reality, moral stories, character studies, all blended together to show his southern presence in every word, paragraph, and tale. His short story, "That Evening Sun," is filled with the references to his fictional Yoknapatawpha and Jefferson in which the characters find themselves appearing in a variety of stories and novels. The characters, the setting, the revelations are all familiar territory and yet they are as engaging and involved as any of his work. We don't mind seeing Caddy and Dilsey again because they are as familiar to Yoknapatawpha as Faulkner is himself. This particular story's purpose then, is not to expand upon these characters so much as it is to express a singular purpose - to illustrate, through the example of Nancy and Jubah, the stark destructive reality of what it means to be an oppressed person and the absolute, crippling fear that an inability to control one's life and fate has upon not only the victim, but upon the victimizers as well.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner Assignment

The South has always had a rocky time when it comes to discussion of race. The post-war South was a place that had been defeated and then broken in a way that can only be described as catastrophic. The loss of identity, the destruction of the power structures, the dissolution of the plantation economy, the sudden freeing of slaves, the social upheaval that was wrought upon the South reverberated for generations and, perhaps only now in the 21st century, have the majority of those vestiges begun to fade. but, a vast number of people know exactly what the South was like before 1964. They know that "free" was just a word, that disenfranchisement was the common state for Black Americans, and that the social destruction of the South was framed squarely on the backs of the ex-slaves and their children, and grand children, and great grandchildren. Faulkner, a white Southern man, whose literary career started in 1919 and though he died in 1962, continues to be prolific.

There are no absolutes in Faulkner's work, no black and white (no pun intended) views on the world. He does not preach, but neither does he shy away from any particular topic. His stories are filled with brutality and gentility, kindness and hate, fear and elation, destruction and creation, and result in some of the most compelling histories of the 20th century. "That Evening Sun" is but a chapter among many in the lives of these characters and, as such, is just a single but incredibly deep view into the soul of the time and place.

The story begins with the Compson children, giving us the child's-eye-view of one of the most tragic and adult themes: Nancy's status as whore, her beating and imprisonment, her attempted suicide, her pregnancy of unclear origin, the fear of the dark, and the overriding fear of Jubah. Of all of these, it is the specter of Jubah, her ex-husband, and the either imagined or real danger of his return that piles the tension on to this story. Jubah is both a real and a symbolic danger. In him we find that there is genuine history - he is aware that he is not the likely father of the baby that Nancy carried - which makes the reference to cutting the baby out of her like he would harvest a watermelon that much more menacing. His significance is deeper and darker than the kind of oppression that whites had been piling upon blacks in the South, because he represents the darkest kind of evil that man can make. Jubah is the embodiment of the twisted nothing-to-lose destructive force that only centuries of slavery and hereditary de-humanizing brutality can create. Jubah, is the tortured child of Omelas allowed to grow up and walk among the community - the idyllic Southern structure broken, everyone must now deal with the horrors they created.

The structure of the story, being told through the semi-comprehending eyes of Quentin, the oldest of the Compson children, gives equal weight to the words of the adults as it does the barely-comprehending children whose focus is so fractured and unformed that they do not see beneath the surface of the words of the adults. They do not understand the references made by Judah to the watermelon, they do not understand the real reason the Nancy is afraid, they do not comprehend that her fear is so crippling that her entire sense of reason and propriety is lost.

Repeatedly, Nancy is seen moaning in a manner that one could associate with a loss of the self - a hiding and a self-soothing that only trauma can bring about.

Psychologically, we can clearly understand that Nancy's fears are due, in great part, to the absolute lack of a true foundation of security in her life. This is exemplified in the references by Jubah to white men being able to come into his home, kick him out, take his livelihood and life, and all without his being able to defend himself. This meant that the blacks of the south had no recourse, no protections, no ability to create a sense of safety. On Maslow's hierarchy, the southern blacks were forced to remain among the very first rungs of food and shelter, and even then those could not be secured.

That the children do not understand this is symbolic of the kind of awareness that the rest of the South would allow itself. White adults would not acknowledge that their past sins as a race created the destructive realities of the present. Therefore, only children could inhabit both worlds and even though they did not understand what they were hearing or seeing, their ability to cross between without restriction is the only way for both stories to be told with complete honesty. This is supported by Faulkner's lack of narrative detail. All descriptions of scenes and places, of people and actions, are contained in the dialogue. Because so much of this dialogue is of the children as well, who clearly cling only to particular words and phrases, who act their age, and who do not have a sense of priority or propriety, Faulkner was able to put forth the entire question of support and friendship between whites and blacks directly on the table.

What Faulkner clearly tells us in this story is that while there is some feeling of continued responsibility on the part of Jason Compson Sr.'s part for Nancy, that sense is maintained because of their close personal relationship. Nancy has taken care of the Compsons in various ways, and therefore the Compson's owe Nancy at least the minimum of respect and care. Jason Compson Sr. treats Nancy as a person in their relationship, in their discussions. but, he does not take responsibility for her, nor does he find fault in the manner in which she lives. This character, then, demonstrates a very Southern way of viewing race - that blacks live the way they live because that is in the nature of things.

While this story touches on these issues - it absolutely acknowledges the fact that there is no immediate remedy, that equality, better housing, health care, opportunities for success are all secondary and even tertiary concerns. For Nancy, Dilsey, and Jubah, survival is paramount.

To the children, Nancy's fear is on an equivalent level to their own frights experienced at Halloween. In this context, they cannot comprehend a fear of the soul, but rather experience a fear of surprises.

These children know, at the end of the day, that they have a home, a family, and a security granted to them based upon the color of the skin. While this knowledge may not be conscious, it is present and important to the story. Nancy, on the other hand, knows that she is in constant danger for the entirety of her life, that she will never know physical security and peace, that she cannot have marital or familial stability, and that her future is always in doubt. The fear then, that she expresses at Jubah, is more a fear of the darkness of her present and future - it matters now if the threat of Jubah is real, because he is symbolic of soul-crushing weight that such a state causes in a person.

We can interpret the ending of the story as being that the Compsons turn their backs on Nancy to leave her to her death.

Quentin's own observation of "the white people going on, dividing the impinged lives of us and Nancy," reveals an awareness of the split - that Nancy is staying on that side of the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner.  (2007, October 18).  Retrieved February 28, 2021, from

MLA Format

"That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner."  18 October 2007.  Web.  28 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"That Evening Sun Go Down Faulkner."  October 18, 2007.  Accessed February 28, 2021.