How Does Joe Christmas Change Throughout The Novel

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Faulkner begins and ends his novel with the famous words of Lena Grove, “My, my. A body does get around” (30, 507). The saying at the end relates to how it has been two months since she started this journey. Faulkner’s novel, in the present time, takes course in about a time period of two months. However, Faulkner’s literary skill allows flashbacks into the pasts of most characters giving readers a worthy background and storyline for the novel. Faulkner’s main character, Joe Christmas, struggles with isolation and a sense of lost identity due to his unknown family background. He turns away from the one woman who could actually understand and relate with him, Joanna Burden. Burden, isolated for her Yankee background, tries to reform Joe, but…show more content…
Joe was taken away from his home as a child and placed into an orphanage. Doc Hines, Joe’s grandfather, interrupted predestination when he did this. This caused Christmas, unsure whether he was white or black, to lose his identity, and throughout the novel he unsuccessfully tries to get it back. In an organic society, everybody plays their part to make the society work. If one part steps out of balance, it can throw the whole society off. African Americans do have a place in this organic society. But, Joe is a threat to miscegenation. It is okay to be black. It is okay to be white. However, put together is a fearful combination. This background, uncontrollable to Joe, makes him a pariah. For example, “… he bedded with the women and paid the when he had the money, and when he did not have it he bedded anyway and then told them that he was a negro. For a while it worked; that was while he was still in the south. It was quite simple, quite easy. Usually all he risked was a cursing from the woman and the matron of the house, though now and then he was beaten unconscious by other patrons, to waken later in the street or in the jail” (224). All it took for him to be rejected by the community was the word negro. The money, almost, immediately taken out of the equation. It came down to a matter of black or white. The thought that this black man, pretending to be white, could have hurt a white woman was enough to…show more content…
Faulkner demonstrates Joanna Burden as a pariah. Faulkner writes, “… what she received were business and private documents with fifty different postmarks and that what she sent were replies – advice, business, financial, and religious, to the presidents and faculties and trustees, and advice personal and practical to young girl students and even alumnae, of a dozen negro schools and colleges through the south” (233). The town turned her into a pariah based on her feelings towards race relations. They rejected her because of her ideas. Additionally Joanna says, “They hated us here. We were Yankees… And it – the War – still too close for even the ones that got whipped to be very sensible. Stirring up negroes to murder and rape, they called it. Threatening white supremacy” (249). Joanna comes from a family of abolitionists and therefore can never find her own identity in the South. She was hated before she was even able to understand racial injustice. Her family was a threat to the organic

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