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The Journal of English Language and Literature , Vol.54, No.2, 281 ~ 300, 2008
Lynching and Ethics in Faulkner`s Fiction
황은주 Eun Joo Hwang
The main purpose of this essay is to suggest that Faulkner`s "pro"-lynching letter published in Commercial-Appeal in 1931 does not contradict his antilynching works such as "Dry September," Light in August, Go Down, Moses, and Intruder in the Dust. In the letter, Faulkner writes, "they [lynching mobs] have a way of being right." The remark has been interpreted as the expression of Faulkner`s sympathetic attitude toward lynching mobs; however, it can be also seen as Faulkner`s observation and criticism of the southern white people`s structures of feeling in his time that stubbornly justified lynching as a way to do justice to black people who did "not" deserve to be a legal subject. This essay argues that Faulkner understood that the legislation of anti-lynching law alone could not save black people from the violence of lynching as far as white people believed that black people were not their equals and that lynching was a right means to fulfill social justice. Faulkner`s fictions such as Light in August and Go Down, Moses provide moments in which white male characters feel as if they were social others, and their experiences work as an ethical urge for them to stand up for social others. This essay illuminates how Faulkner depicts the process of white male characters` identity formation as a violent break from his strong tie with black friends, how they reverse the process to blur the border again through the experiences of becoming-other, and how the experience of becoming-other has a potentiality to play the role of an ethical agency in stopping the custom of lynching in the South.
Key Words
린칭, 법, 정의, 백인 남성성, 타자-되기, Lynching, Law, justice, white manhood, becoming-other,영미문학, 문화연구, 비교문학, 비평이론, English and American Literature, cultural studies, comparative literature, critical theory
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