1. Joe Christmas is dismembered—castrated—at the novel's end. Why does Faulkner write this event as a moment of transcendence? Can you see anything redemptive in this death? Why did Faulkner name this strange figure "Joe Christmas," anyway? Is he, in any manner, a viable "version" of Jesus Christ?

2. How does Rev. Hightower develop as a character from the beginning of the novel to its end? With particular reference to his death scene and the wheel of faces, what does Hightower's re-emergence into the world say about Faulkner's idea of the relationship between the individual and the community?

3. What do you make of Percy Grimm? What does he represent about the culture of Mississippi? Faulkner later claimed that the figure Percy Grimm prefigured the Fascist mentality that was prominent in the late 1930s. Do you agree with this assessment?

4. Late in the novel, Gavin Stevens, the district attorney, interprets Joe Christmas's entire life in terms of the conflict between white blood and black blood. Do you agree? Is this Faulkner's belief as well? Will this interpretation take the measure of the novel?

5. In considering the overall design and meaning of the novel, compare and contrast the lives and fates of Joe Christmas and Lena Grove. In what ways do they represent the psychological and moral poles of Light in August?

6. Is Light in August hopeless or hopeful regarding the possibilities of its characters and setting? Why? From Faulkner's mix of death-stories and life-stories, what can we learn of his view of the South, and his view of the world?

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