Divinity on the implacable and immemorial earth: Dialectics of pregnancy in light in august

Chung Jen Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


William Faulkner claimed that his admiration for women activated his writing. In Light in August, this point is even more evident. More specifically, pregnant women and Milly Hines and the fraught pregnancy of Joanna Burden not only motivates the narration but provides depth to this book. As the representation of pregnancy encompasses complex spiritual and socio-cultural dimensions, pregnancy in Light in August is never an unmarked feature. Thus, it is the purpose of this paper to discuss the spiritual and sociocultural significance of pregnancy in this book. By applying Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of the grotesque body, this paper attempts to explore the significance of the pregnant body. In addition, by examining the biblical allusion, bringing in the dialectics of divinity and secularity in the cultural significance of pregnancy, this paper analyzes the ambivalence and dialectics in the lower and upper stratum of the human body. Moreover, by discussing the individual significance of pregnancy in Lena Grove, Joanna Burden, and Milly Hines in counterpoint to each other, this paper tries to relocate the significance of pregnancy and reveal the depth of pregnancy in the readings of Light in August.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)141-163
Number of pages23
JournalTamkang Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2009


  • Bakhtin
  • Dialectics
  • Faulkner
  • Grotesque
  • Light in august
  • Pregnancy
  • The bible

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • History


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