Reflections on William Faulkner’s Faith in Humanity
Faulkner’s work is, at times, notoriously complex and difficult to read, not to mention frustratingly ambiguous. For this reason, this essay will approach Faulkner’s method of redefining the modem hero from a structural perspective. Peter Swiggert points out that Faulkner’s characters fall into two categories: the “primitive” or the “puritan.” Within this framework the “puritan” characters are posited against the “primitive” characters. The “puritan” connotes and refers to not only those associated with the extreme, exceedingly harsh religious sects of the South, but also it generally refers to any other figure in Faulkner’s works that adhere to an implicit or explicit moral code. These literary types are invariably the antagonists which usually take the form of a Southern Baptist or Southern Democrat. Faulkner is unambiguous in his disdain for rigid moral standards that govern and subsequently destroy the human soul. Elizabeth Kerr points out “Faulkner’s novels are riddled with appalling examples of the good”(Kerrl77). The “puritan” figures who attempt to define what is morally “good” are the characters that invariably disrupt and destroy the lives around them.