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William Faulkner's Writing Style In The Novel Sanctuary

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Cover 1 of Sanctuary 1931 by William Faulkner represents the theme of the story best because of the offsetting nasty vibe it sets off. Also the picture of the woman all ripped up and damaged represents Temple Drake due to the horrors she went through that most likely scared her for a lifetime. In the background is a green stained, slimey and chipped concrete wall and clearly dirty which represents the sneaky and slickness of the deep south of rural Mississippi and Tennessee. There is also an orange liquid on the grimey wall that is possibly moonshine or some sort of alcohol that is illegal because of the prohibition. It is also ironic that the book’s title is Sanctuary 1931 which is defined as a safe place as refuge, and the book’s cover is quite the opposite as there is no sanctuary from the evil hidden among the southern society. Horace Benbow is symbolic of the early Southern tradition, which as the story continues he believes less and less of it as he digs deeper into the hidden evil in his southern home. The mixing of social classes is the ultimate downfall of our main characters, because their ideas are in conflict with one another. Sanctuary is not just about the good and evil; it is also about the breakdown of the southern traditions and ideals and new sets of heritage that begin to emerge. The social class and southern ideals are the central issues with Sanctuary, and demonstrates that with mixing the social classes and resulting in conflict and violence.

In this novel, William Faulkner represents the tradition, culture, and ideas during the southern prohibition. The characters failed to communicate with each other about their ideas and culture, in which if they were apart the same social classes wouldn’t need to be discussed or announced. The plot of the novel is based on whether or not certain characters can communicate with each other and whether it would be a relationship or a conflict. The smashing together of the social classes makes it very difficult to trust one another and creates a sort of paranoia into who and who not trust.

The social classes are represented early in the book when we are introduced to two of the main characters and their social classes. Horace is “a tall, thin man, hatless, in worn gray flannel trousers and carrying a tweed coat over his arm” (Faulkner 3). Horace is described as an intelligent and wealthy man. Popeye is introduced as “a man of under size, his hands in his coat pockets, a cigarette slanted from his chin. His suit was black, with a tight, high-waisted coat. His trousers were rolled 5 once and caked with mud above mud-caked shoes. His face had a queer, bloodless color, as though seen by electric light; against the sunny silence, in his slanted straw hat and his slightly akimbo arms, he had that vicious depthless quality of stamped tin.’ (Faulkner 4). The differences between the two men are noticeable, and Horace considers Popeye to be intimidating, but believes that he is socially below him. They find themselves in situations where it is difficult to have a conversation with each other and start slitting and misunderstanding each other without really knowing one another. Slites come from both of the men like Popeye asking “Do you read books” (Faulkner 5) and Horace commenting “I don’t suppose you’d know a bird at all, without it was singing in a cage in a hotel lounge, or cost four dollars on a plate” (5).

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Another example is Temple Drakes rape where two social classes clash for another misunderstanding that leads to a horrific crime. She turns to Ruby for protection, but Ruby has no sympathy for her so Temple uses her social class as a coat of protection against the world by repeating “My father is a Lawyer.” She’s very convinced that because of her social class that she will be protected but where she is no woman is perceived as lady-like. She tries convincing herself that she is safe and protected by telling her baby “if bad mans hurts Temple, us’ll tell the governor’s soldiers, won’t us” (Faulkner 56). Popeye and the men in the Frenchman Place view Temple Drake as a “whore” and Temples teasing in reaction to the whistles and comments about her strengthen their belief that she is a “Lady of the Night”. Popeye and the rest of the men in the Place don’t care about her social class or who her father is and view her as another prostitute.

Towards the end of the story it is very evident that many characters of different social classes have different meanings to truth and justice. Some of the views are not even the same within the same social class and the loss of the values that once everyone shared leads to conflict and crime. Lee’s trial is the example of lost order and honesty in southern ideals. Ruby is pulled out of the hotel that Horace finds for her and the preacher goes on about how “Goodwin and the woman should be burned as a sole example to the child” (Faulkner 128). The preacher clearly has his mind made up before the trial begins and thinks Ruby and Lee are guilty. Ruby’s character is immediately tested when she takes the stand, with the attorney stating that Lee and Ruby are not married. This then goes on into the Corncob used in the rape of Temple Drake. This is literally and figuratively the nail in the coffin for Lee, as said by the District Attorney that “this is no longer a matter for the hangman, but for the bonfire of gasoline” (Faulkner 284). Lee was on trial for the murder of Tommy, but the identifaction from Temple Drake that Lee was the man who raped her sealed his fate.

Lee’s death was a message sent to all social classes lower class to higher class of society, to not over step boundaries of your social class. Do not be something that you are not. A bootlegger would not be hung for the murder of another bootlegger, but a bootlegger accused of rapping the duaghter of a judge will be severally punished as Lee was. If Temple Drake was a black woman or in a lower class like Rubys there would be a much different outcome with Lee possibly still being alive.

William Faulkner’s Sanctuary is about the social classes who had voices and were voiceless of the southern culture of rural Mississippi and Tennessee. Some worked for their classes or some just had no say and were born into their social class. The mixing and blending of the social classes is what put the main characters in certain situations where it was controllable or uncontrollable due to their social status. Communication could have put themselves in better situations that could have been avoidable but used stereotypes to judge people before they meet or met the person they are judging. If simple communication was used and social classes ignored social classes stereotypes the whole plot would be avoided as a whole.

References

  1. Wheelwright, Philip. Sanctuary, by William Faulkner. 1931.
  2. Thompson, Alan Reynolds. Sanctuary by William Faulkner. 1931.

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William Faulkner’s Writing Style In The Novel Sanctuary. (2022, July 08). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 8, 2023, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/william-faulkners-writing-style-in-the-novel-sanctuary/
“William Faulkner’s Writing Style In The Novel Sanctuary.” Edubirdie, 08 Jul. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/william-faulkners-writing-style-in-the-novel-sanctuary/
William Faulkner’s Writing Style In The Novel Sanctuary. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/william-faulkners-writing-style-in-the-novel-sanctuary/> [Accessed 8 Feb. 2023].
William Faulkner’s Writing Style In The Novel Sanctuary [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jul 08 [cited 2023 Feb 8]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/william-faulkners-writing-style-in-the-novel-sanctuary/
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