"Wordless and Far Away": Race in William Faulkner's Soldiers' Pay Open Access

Holland, Martin Landes (2012)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/zp38wd56k?locale=en
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Abstract

Abstract
"Wordless and Far Away": Race in William Faulkner's Soldiers' Pay

This thesis is concerned with the profound and unique ways in which race and interracial
dynamics mold William Faulkner's first novel, Soldiers' Pay. At first glance, race and racial
matters do not seem to occupy a particularly prominent position in Soldiers' Pay. Overall, the
novel seems to be chiefly preoccupied with interactions among members of the white cast of
the book. However, a closer examination reveals that the African-American characters of
Soldiers' Pay play an indirect but essential role in heightening and constructing the themes of
freedom, disillusionment, intersexual dynamics, and identity in the novel. In this sense, racial
interplay and racial difference serve obscured but key functions in Soldiers' Pay. These oblique
functions operate chiefly through a complex and subtle web of contrast, insinuation, and
antithesis. This dynamic is unique among Faulkner's other novels. Generally, when they contain
substantial African-American populations, Faulkner's books tend to treat matters of race openly
and thoroughly. These novels, such as Absalom, Absalom!, Go Down, Moses, and Light in
August,
all situate race on the surface of their respective narratives. Soldiers' Pay, however,
banishes racial issues to the margins of its text, despite the fact that its thematic structure relies
heavily on its internal interracial landscape. In this sense, race serves both a pivotal and an
idiosyncratic purpose in William Faulkner's Soldiers' Pay.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Introduction..............................................................1
Chapter One..............................................................11
Chapter Two..............................................................44
Conclusion..............................................................61
Works Cited..............................................................69

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