Love is the prominent source in Faulkner’s novels that contributes to each character’s insanity and drives their actions. Similar to societal interpretations and Freudian theories of love, Faulkner has defined love amongst all characters as meaningless for just moments of pleasure and desire, something that is valued only to gain out of selfishness control and dominance, and as unobtainable. For Faulkner, he incorporates much of his childhood experiences with women and the forms of love given to him to the idea of love formed between Quentin and Caddy Compson in TSAF, Addie and Anse Bundren in AILD, and Joe Christmas with Addie Burden and Bobbie Allen in LIA. In all these scenarios, it can be perceived as “love violated, or love betrayed, or love perverted” (Brooks). The love between each character is derived through very different notions but ultimately with love in Yoknapatawpha County, Jefferson, ends in death.

The overall motive that allows love to play a central theme in Faulkner’s novels, is the lack of security and ability to define what each character desires most. Faulkner explores role swapping of males and females by deviating away from societal standards. Males lack a sense of security and masculinity, inability to gain dominance and control, while females lack femininity, softness, while they carry the role as the dominant figure with control and direction. “The attempt to escape feminization leads to an oscillation between two feminizing positions. To escape the feminization of identification with and engulfment by the mother, the male child turns to a relation with the father. To escape the feminization of castration by the father, he turns to a relation with the mother. Male characters act to asset a masculinity by more or less violently disempowering female and feminine figures” (Morgan 143). Quentin Compson, in TSAF, best idealizes that statement as memories of his father is the primitive source that disrupts his sense of time, inability to differentiate the past and the present. Quentin’s obsession of time and his sister, Caddy, represents the disorder that builds within him; his attempts to gain both his father’s acceptance and his own identity as a man but deviate from castration by his father. Quentin attempts multiple times to deviate from memories of his father but the enigma is he believes his father is fused within him as the shadow he casts represents his father under the street lamps (TSAF 96). He fantasizes of incest relations with Caddy due to his father’s statement of virginity on a man is seen as shameful (TSAF 78) and tries many times to convince his father he impregnated his sister and not Dalton Ames (TSAF 79). The love Quentin has for his sister is not a sister-brotherly type of love, but a love in which he desires to have taken her virginity and given her a child than to uplift the Compson name from her pregnancy out of wedlock. Quentin’s love for Caddy exists only to gain his father’s acceptance of him as a man thus once he gains his father’s acceptance he can then gain his own masculinity and identity.

However, another perspective can be taken into context for Quentin Compson’s true motive. His love for Caddy is not what drives him to suicide perhaps it’s because of his love for his father. Quentin obsesses with his father’s ideals while Caddy is used as a scapegoat to deviate from his father’s principles. Faulkner hints on numerous occasions of Quentin as a homosexual and are depicted when Quentin is called Shreve’s husband (TSAF 78,171) and when Quentin in retrospect thinks of Caddy, “Poor Quentin you’ve never done that have you and Ill tell you how it was Ill tell Father then itll have to be because you love Father then well have to go away amid the pointing and the horror the clean flame Ill make you say we did Im stronger than you Ill make you know we did…” (TSAF 148-149). The feminizing touch of having Quentin called Shreve’s husband as well as Caddy who mentions she is stronger than Quentin emasculates Quentin by both his father, his male friends, and by his sister. To have Caddy mention Quentin’s love for his father, as she understands Quentin the best, and then mention to die in a “clean” flame may emphasize the ability to become pure again as retribution to a sinful life he is currently concealing. These ideas of homosexuality leads to the conclusion, “…to see Quentin as either a gay man to whom feminine pronouns are homophobically attributed or as a lesbian with whom masculine pronouns are similarly associated” (Morgan) signify both a deeply emasculated male that if Quentin is a female or male would not defer from the subjectivity of his feminization. Though he had one opportunity to be with a female, Natalie, Quentin refused and is left to fantasize an unrealistic future with Caddy as he views his mother will accept her, able to regain pride from his father, and uplift the Compson name.

Similar to Quentin’s situation, William Faulkner himself deals with an alcoholic father and women in his life as the primitive source that entails his passion and interests. Faulkner’s relationship with his mother was essentially nonexistent as his mother, “Maud grew up in a household filled with secrets made necessary her father’s constant social indiscretions and brushes with the law. She then married a man who was a mean drunk. Like so many of Faulkner’s fictional fathers, he often had to be found and led home by his eldest son. As an adult, Maud maintained a household that was equally, if not more, secretive than the one in which she was reared. Thus, Maud’s life, and particularly her relationship with her oldest son, is in some ways as difficult to reconstruct as Callie Barr’s” (Sensibar 135). As the oldest child, William Faulkner held the most responsibilities towards his father and perceived to have a more intimate relationship with his father than with his mother. Faulkner’s mother encouraged and aided Faulkner towards his interests and passions. But she also enjoyed frequent visits from her Oxford women, held book club meetings, and occasionally went to social gatherings (Sensibar 133). Though Faulkner’s mother, Maud, is perceived to be incredibly charismatic, consequently, she was opposed to women who threatened her sons love towards her; though the only female she was fond of was Faulkner’s youngest brother’s wife (Sensibar 133 ). Similar to Quentin in TSAF, his inability to love any women besides his sister Caddy, for instance Natalie, and the non-mother figure present seems to all reflect Faulkner’s childhood. Quentin was never able to suffice a real relationship other than with his sister and had been driven to insanity by memories of his father. The only real relationship Quentin holds with his biological mother, Caroline Compson, is of her sacrifice to sell acres of pasture to help pay his Ivy League education but later mentioned in TSAF, it’s to help the reputation of the family name. The only relationship Caroline Compson has with her son is with Quentin’s second youngest brother, Jason Compson besides Benjy who is mentally handicapped. Overall, the love Quentin has for his sister is redundant, as his inability to love is due to his desire to have his father’s acceptance of him as a man and his mother’s jealousy of other women.

Joe Christmas in LIA, is internally at war with his race and identity. The love he sought is for racial acceptance and to be wanted, as his childhood was continuously baffled with isolation. Joanna Burden who is long term resident of Jefferson but isolated due to society’s misconception of her as a “nigger lover” and Bobbie Allen, a harlot, are Joe Christmas’s primary love interests. The love Joe Christmas formed amongst the two women is explicitly motioned towards the Freudian theory of love. “1) as a fusion of sexuality with affection or tenderness; 2) as libidinal energy—both “aim- inhibited” (and thus available for culture-building tasks) and that which is directed towards its original aim of a love object; 3) as Eros (the life instinct driving all humanity) and 4) as the total life force comprising Eros plus an aggressive or death instinct” (Hutcheon). Freud elucidates love as a physical objective of life “a biological model” (wiki), meant for reproduction and an innate/ conscious instinct that drives people together for the will to live “libido driving eros” (Hutcheon). For Joe Christmas, he perceived love as a physical state as he constantly traveled to Bobbie Allen and Joanna Burden for sex. Despite, having to pay Bobbie Allen for sex, he believed he was in love with her and attempted to give her money for marriage (LIA 216). He committed/attempted murder for her by throwing a chair on Mr. McEachern, his adoptive father, and stole for her, from Mrs. McEachern (LIA 217). “Perhaps two nights a week Joe and the waitress went to her room. He did not know at first that anyone else had ever done that. Perhaps he believed that some peculiar dispensation had been made in his favor, for his sake. Very likely until the last he still believed that Max and Mame had to be placated, not for the actual fact, but because of his presence there. But he did not see them again in the house, though he knew that they were there” (LIA 198). Christmas is aware Bobbie Allen has multiple extraneous affairs with a variety of males, yet he believes by paying Bobbie Allen, he will gain her love through sex. Freudian theories of love states, the love formed were a conscious instinct that has pulled Christmas towards these two women. The idea of being in love with them is a falsity rather a physical desire that has lured him to believe is both affectionate and allows the women to become the sex object rather than an actual person. The “desire to possess” (wiki) or Eros allows Joe Christmas to feel masculine and dominant, instead as a constant misperception of a blend of whiteness or blackness that makes him inferior and isolated. Joanna Burden and Joe Christmas’s relationship is also a mixture of a struggle to be the dominant figure, in addition, to Joanna Burden’s desire to rebel and mock at society’s misconception, which has isolated her from society by stating she’s a “nigger love.” Ultimately, Joanna Burden and Joe Christmas’s relationship is brought to a standpoint in which Christmas shoots Joanna Burden after Burden’s failed attempt to shoot/kill Christmas. Many descriptions of Joanna Burden are very masculine, “It was as if he struggled physically with another man for an object of no actual value to either, and for which they struggled on principle alone” (LIA 205) as well as “she’s trying to be a women and she don’t know how” (LIA 205). These statements emphasize the emasculation of Christmas and by attempting to use Joanna Burden to find acceptance of his identity, he further isolates himself from love and acceptance. He is not in control yet Joanna Burden physically and mentally controls when they undergo sex just like Bobbie Allen towards Christmas. Similarly like Quentin Compson, love has played a role in death and suicide. Quentin Compson suicides because he is aware he can never escape memories of his father that plagues him and win the love of his sister and as for Christmas, love he tried to gain was purely through a physical and selfish state, to seek for masculinity and acceptance of his identity of a blend of whiteness and blackness. However, in both situations the love they tried to gain a hold of was already a failure since the love was either betrayed, violated or perverted (Brooks).

Faulkner’s childhood was heavily impacted by the idea of racial identity similar to Joe Christmas and Quentin Compson. Faulkner’s biological mother, Maud, a non-present mother figure in his childhood, was raised primarily by his black servant, Callie Barr or as Faulkner calls her, Mammy. “Callie Barr taught him uncolored love; from her he learned the courage to plumb the terrible psychic and cultural consequences of denying and being ashamed of that love. His fiction gives imaginative form to a shame he felt and a loss he mourned all his life” (Sensibar 20). Even though Faulkner was raised to believe blackness is inferior and subordinate to whiteness, his love for Callie Barr was a defining factor for Faulkner; for him to either uphold societal pressures, to treat her not as an equal, or to view himself as inferior besides Callie Barr though he’s a white male. Furthermore, Faulkner’s novels explicate his ordeal, “Faulkner’s constant retelling of the story of a Southern white boy’s (for it is almost always a boy) psychologically violent education into race and racism is a defining moment in the boy’s quest for identity and white Southern Manhood. In that moment when he begins to act white, he always has to demean and to cut himself off physically and emotionally from the black mother who nursed him and the black child with whom he ate, slept, and played. This moment marks him for life. He never recovers from his transformation, this moment when, by denying his black family in order to define himself as white, he experiences himself as permanently cut off from love” (Sensibar 21). Faulkner was shown love by Callie Barr and not by his biological mother, Maun, for him to deny Callie Barr through her race would deprive Faulkner of any love. Thus, Faulkner’s novels consistently repress his male characters of love through lack of identity. His male character’s Quentin Compson in TSAF and Joe Christmas in LIA both face the same ordeal but to different measures of Faulkner’s own dilemma. Quentin Compson, raised by his black servant Dilsey and not by his mother, Caroline Compson, and with Joe Christmas at turmoil with his own race and identity. Is he a black person or a white person is never explicitly stated in LIA, but led to the assumption similar to Faulkner’s own identity dilemma, he’s a mixture of blackness and whiteness and by denying one race he denies love in general; perhaps the reason Christmas never gains love.

In AILD, Addie and Anse Bundren expresses a different type of love apart to gain/racial acceptance. The love formed between Addie and Anse Bundren is for reproduction which both Yoknapatawpha County and our society account for as the product of love. Love as unobtainable serves to be ideal in combination to all three novels. Societal pressures in Yoknapatawpha County as seen in TSAF by Caroline Compson and Jason Compson emphasizes the idea of upholding the family name, Bascomb, which can only be accomplished through an heir or offspring. Both the idea to gain love in TSAF and LIA were not to produce an offspring but as a physical means to gain what they desired most. In AILD, Faulkner imposes the idea that love for the purpose to produce offspring still won’t produce a long-lasting type of love, rather a deeply fueled hatred that is freed only through death. Anse encourages Addie to marry him through his ownership of property, honest name, and being forehanded; perhaps it was due to loneliness she accepted his proposal. “I gave Anse the children, I did not ask for them. I did not even ask him for what he could have given me: not-Anse. That was my duty to him, to not ask that, and that duty I fulfilled. I would be I; I would let him be the shape and echo of his word. That was more than he asked, because he could not have asked for that and being Anse, using himself so with a word. The void Addie feels towards Anse is from having to fulfill her duty as a woman, to produce offspring in a society that idealizes men as “bread winners” and women as the “home maker.” Without questioning societal pressures, Addie is more or less obligated/forced to produce offspring without questioning what he wants of her and what she wants for herself. “Nonsense,” Anse said; “you and me aint nigh done chapping yet, with just two.” With already two offspring Anse persistently asks Addie for more. “He had a word, too. Love, he called it. But I had been used to words for a long time. I knew that the word was like the others; just a shape to fill a lack; that when the right time came, you wouldn’t need a word for that anymore than for pride or fear. Cash did not need to say it to me not I to him and I would say, Let Anse use it, if he wants to. So that it was Anse or love; love or Anse; it didn’t matter” (AILD 153). Love in the context of Addie and Anse’s relationship is formed from the desire to not be alone, rather than the desire to be with one another. The dominance and control Anse holds towards Addie’s life provides a different context of male masculinity that has not been viewed in Joe Christmas and Quentin Compson. Anse has a hold of Addie’s future but he doesn’t have her love or desire to be with him. Overall, the idea to produce offspring still holds love as an unobtainable and wanted out of selfish/personal reasons. Similarly to societal interpretations of love, which heavily emphasizes love through various dating websites/networks, it over idealizes love to the point where love is impossible to gain.

The epicenter of love in Faulkner’s novels focuses in great relation to societal interpretations, Freudian theories of love, and through Faulkner’s personal experiences, which makes love unobtainable in each of his novels. Quentin Compson, Joe Christmas, and Addie Bundren all are driven towards death to escape their failure due to their inability to grasp onto their desires. The idea to overcome their problems through another person is shown to be disastrous and results in death as the only feasible conclusion. Only through death can the person “return to a state in which subject and object did not exist” (Bloom), states what is perceived or experienced consciously (object) is given significance or a meaning by the person (subject) and the purpose of death in Faulkner's novels is to remove the attachment of what each character consciously or unconsciously believes. That statement coincides with “Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders” (LIA 119). Quentin Compson perceives love as an unobtainable, reason why he is attached to the idea of death, Joe Christmas perceives race as inevitable source of his isolation and he will never accept or be accepted of his identity as a mixture of blackness and whiteness, and Addie Bundren views death as her only way to obtain freedom. Those ideas were long implemented within them that as they got older, love and acceptance of themselves became a foreign thought.


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