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William Faulkner — LIGHT IN AUGUST fruit before a drove of hogs: the meagre income from his father which he continued to divide with the Memphis institution; allowing himself to be persecuted, to be dragged from his bed at night and carried into the woods and beaten with sticks, he all the while bearing in the town’s sight and hearing, without shame, with that patient and voluptuous ego of the martyr, the air, the behavior, the How long, O Lord until, inside his house again and the door locked, he lifted the mask with voluptuous and triumphant glee: Ah. That’s done now. That’s past now. That’s bought and paid for now. ‘But I was young then,’ he thinks. ‘I too had to do, not what I could, but what I knew.’ Thinking is running too heavily now; he should know it, sense it. Still the vehicle is unaware of what it is approaching. ‘And after all, I have paid. I have bought my ghost, even though I did pay for it with my life. And who can forbid me doing that? It is any man’s privilege to destroy himself, so long as he does not injure anyone else, so long as he lives to and of himself—” He stops suddenly. Motionless, unbreathing, there comes upon him a consternation which is about to be actual horror. He is aware of the sand now; with the realization of it he feels within himself a gathering as though for some tremendous effort. Progress now is still progress, yet it is now indistinguishable from the recent past like the already traversed inches of sand which cling to the turning wheel, raining back with a dry hiss that before this should have warned him: ‘... revealed to my wife my hunger, my ego ... instrument of her despair and shame ... and without his having thought it at all, a sentence seems to stand fullsprung across his skull, behind his eyes: I don’t want to think this. I must not think this. I dare not think this As he sits in the window, leaning forward above his motionless hands, sweat begins to pour from him, springing out like blood, and pouring. Out of the instant the sand clutched wheel of thinking turns on with the slow implacability of a mediaeval torture instrument, beneath the wrenched and broken sockets of his spirit, his life: ‘Then, if this is so, if I am the instrument of her despair and death, then I am in turn instrument of someone outside myself. And I know that for fifty years I have not even been clay: I have been a single instant of darkness in which a horse galloped and a gun crashed. And if I am my dead grandfather on the instant of his death, then my wife, his grandson’s wife ... the debaucher and murderer of my grandson’s wife, since I could neither let my grandson live or die …” The wheel, released, seems to rush on with a long sighing sound. He sits motionless in its aftermath, in his cooling sweat, while the sweat pours and pours. The wheel whirls on. It is going fast and smooth now, because it is freed now of burden, of vehicle, axle, all. In the lambent suspension of August into which night is about to fully come, it seems to engender and surround itself with a faint glow like a halo. The halo is full of faces. The faces are not shaped with suffering, not shaped with anything: not horror, pain, not even reproach. They are peaceful, as though they have escaped into an apotheosis; his own is among them. In fact, they all look a little alike, composite of all the faces which he has ever seen. But he can distinguish them one from another: his wife’s; townspeople, members of that congregation which denied him, which had met him at the station that day with eagerness and hunger; Byron Bunch’s; the woman with the child; and that of the man called Christmas. This face alone is not clear. It is confused more than any other, as though in the now peaceful throes of a more recent, a more inextricable, compositeness. Then he can see that it is two faces which seem to strive (but not of themselves striving or desiring it: he knows that, but because of the motion and desire of the wheel itself) in turn to free themselves one from the other, then fade and blend again. But he has seen now, the other face, the one that is not Christmas. ‘Why, it’s …’ he thinks. ‘I have seen it, recently ... Why, it’s that ... boy. With that black pistol, automatic they call them. The one who … into the kitchen where … killed, who fired the ...’ Then it seems to him that some ultimate dammed flood within him breaks and rushes away. He seems to watch it, feeling himself losing contact with earth, lighter and lighter, emptying, floating. ‘I am dying,’ he thinks. ‘I should pray. I should try to pray.’ But he does not. He does not try. ‘With all air, all heaven, filled with the lost and unheeded crying of all the living who ever lived, wailing still like 197

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)  

Light in August (William Faulkner,1932)

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