Parable thinking in W. Faulner’s novel ‘A fable’

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Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine

Skovoroda Kharkiv National Pedagogical University

Department of Foreign Philology

Parable thinking in W. FAULNER’s novel “A FABLE”

Graduation Paper

by Yana Kolomiets

student of the Department

of Foreign Philology

5 E/Sp group

Scientific Adviser:

Associate Professor

Alekseyeva N.S.


Associate Professor

Kononova Zh.A.

Kharkiv – 2010




1.1 Development of a writer

1.2 W. Faulkner’s aesthetic views


2.1 Parable as a genre

2.2 Form and content of parables


3.1 General characteristic of the novel

3.2 Allegoric character of the novel

3.3 Christian symbolism in the novel

3.4 The figure of Christ in the novel

PART IV. Methodological reccomendations FOR TEACHING FAULKNER’S CREATIVE




American literature, to which Faulkner belongs, is comparatively new.
Yet among many writers that it includes, there are those whose works
present special interest for literary criticism. William Faulkner is,
undoubtedly, one of the most significant and outstanding representatives
of American literature. More than simply a renowned Mississippi writer,
the Nobel Prize-winning novelist and short story writer is acclaimed
throughout the world as one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers.
Among his greatest works are the novels all set in the same small
Southern county – novels that include Absalom, Absalom!, As I Lay Dying,
Light in August, and above all, A Fable- that would one day be
recognized among the greatest novels ever written by an American.

A Fable occupies a curious position among Faulkner’s works. Written
during the period of his greatest acclaim, the first major novel he
produced after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1950, it appeared at a time
when critics were undoubtedly most disposed to heap praise upon him for
the slimmest of reasons. A Fable was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the
National Book Award in 1955, but was considered a failure by practically
all the reviewers and many of the influential critics; few commentators
have since found reasons to alter their opinions.

Since Faulkner’s literary career his works had been studied well and
many critic works were published. But there still there are some “white
spots” in these studies, and the novel A Fable is one of them. Actually
it is not studied properly. In critical reviews not much attention is
paid to parable thinking in this novel that is very important for direct
comprehension of the philosophical ideas and concepts presented here.

Thus, the topicality of the research consists in the fact that at
present parable as a genre attracts more attention of the researchers as
a strong aesthetic and philosophical phenomenon.

Undertaking our research, we formulated our aim as discovery and the
analysis of the parable thinking in Faulkner’s novel.

The aim determines the concrete tasks of the diploma paper:

· to consider Faulkner’s life and its connection with his creative
activities, as it is necessary for the understanding of the novel;

· to highlight the main features of parable, its peculiarities and the
differences between parable and novel;

· to single out the parable thinking in the novel.

The object of the research is W. Faulkner’s writings and parable as a
literary genre.

The subject of the research is the novel A Fable and features of parable
thinking in it.

Realization of the tasks has been accomplished with the help of the
following methods:

· historical-sociological method which means historical and sociological
conditions of the writing;

· biographical method of the research to consider Faulkner’s life and
its connection with his creative works;

· descriptive method which involved gathering information about the
writer’s life and creative activities, examining it deeply and
thoroughly and for analyzing the text proper;

· method of text interpretation to study the novel properly, to single
out the parable thinking in it.

Scientific novelty consists in the fact that the phenomenon of parable
thinking in this novel has been studied for the first time.

Practical value of the research is that the results can be used during
the lessons of English literature at school or seminars on World
literature at higher educational establishments.


1.1 Development of a writer

William Cuthbert Faulkner was born on September 25, 1897, in New Albany,
Mississippi, the first of four sons born to Murry and Maud Butler
Falkner. He was named after his great-grandfather, William Clark
Falkner, the Old Colonel, who had been killed eight years earlier in a
duel with his former business partner in the streets of Ripley,
Mississippi. A lawyer, politician, planter, businessman, Civil War
colonel, railroad financier, and finally, a best-selling writer of the
novel The White Rose of Memphis, the Old Colonel, even in death, loomed
as a larger-than-life model of personal and professional success for his
male descendants.

A few days before William’s fifth birthday, the Falkners moved to
Oxford, Mississippi, at the urging of Murry’s father, John Wesley
Thompson Falkner. Called the Young Colonel out of homage to his father
rather than to actual military service, the younger Falkner had abruptly
decided to sell the railroad begun by his father. Disappointed that he
would not inherit the railroad, Murry took a series of jobs in Oxford,
most of them with the help of his father. The elder Falkner, meanwhile,
founded the First National Bank of Oxford in 1910.

When a young man William demonstrated artistic talent, drawing and
writing poetry, but around the sixth grade he began to grow increasingly
bored with his studies. His earliest literary efforts were romantic,
conscientiously modeled on English poets such as Burns, Thomson,
Housman, and Swinburne. While still in his youth, he also made the
acquaintance of two individuals who would play an important role in his
future: a childhood sweetheart, Estelle Oldham, and a literary mentor,
Phil Stone.

William’s other close acquaintance from this period arose from their
mutual interest in poetry. When Stone read the young poet’s work, he
immediately recognized William’s talent and set out to give Faulkner
encouragement, advice and models for study [21, p.202-214].

Earlier, Faulkner had tried to join the U.S. Army Air Force, but he had
been turned down because of his height. In his RAF application, he lied
about numerous facts, including his birth date and birthplace, in an
attempt to pass himself as British. He also spelled his name “Faulkner”,
believing it looked more British, and in meeting with RAF officials he
affected a British accent.

Though he had seen no combat in his wartime military service, upon
returning to Oxford in December 1918, he allowed others to believe he
had. He told many stories of his adventures in the RAF, most of which
were highly exaggerated or patently untrue, including injuries that had
left him in constant pain and with a silver plate in his head. His brief
service in the RAF would also serve him in his written fiction,
particularly in his first published novel, Soldiers’ Pay, in 1926.

Back in Oxford, he first engaged in a footloose life, basking in the
temporary glory of a war veteran. In 1919, he enrolled at the University
of Mississippi in Oxford under a special provision for war veterans,
even though he had never graduated from high school. In August, his
first published poem, L’Apres-Midi d’un Faune, appeared in The New
Republic. While a student at Ole Miss, he published poems and short
stories in the campus newspaper, the Mississippian, and submitted
artwork for the university yearbook. In the fall of 1920, Faulkner
helped to found a dramatic club on campus called The Marionettes, for
which he wrote a one-act play titled The Marionettes but which was never
staged. After three semesters of study at Ole Miss, he dropped out in
November 1920. Over the next few years, Faulkner wrote reviews, poems,
and prose pieces for The Mississippian and had several odd jobs. At the
recommendation of Stark Young, a novelist in Oxford, in 1921 he took a
job in New York City as an assistant in a bookstore managed by Elizabeth
Prall [23]. His most notorious job during this period was his stint as
postmaster in the university post office from the spring of 1922 to
October 31, 1924. By all accounts, he was a terrible postmaster,
spending much of his time reading or playing cards. When a postal
inspector came to investigate, he agreed to resign. During this period,
he also served as a scoutmaster for the Oxford Boy Scout troop, but he
was asked to resign for “moral reasons” (probably drinking).

In 1924, his friend Phil Stone secured the publication of a volume of
Faulkner’s poetry The Marble Faun by the Four Seas Company. It was
published in December 1924 in an edition of 1,000 copies, dedicated to
his mother and with a preface by Stone [35].

In January 1925, Faulkner moved to New Orleans and fell in with a
literary crowd which included Sherwood Anderson and centered around The
Double Dealer, a literary magazine whose credits include the first
published works of Hart Crane, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Penn Warren and
Edmund Wilson. Faulkner published several essays and sketches in The
Double Dealer and in the New Orleans Times-Picayune; the latter would
later be collected under the title New Orleans Sketches. He wrote his
first novel Soldiers’ Pay, and on Anderson’s advice sent it to the
publisher Horace Liveright. After Liveright accepted the novel, Faulkner
sailed from New Orleans to Europe, arriving in Italy on August 2. His
principal residence during the next several months was near Paris,
France, just around the corner from the Luxembourg Gardens, where he
spent much of his time; his written description of the gardens would
later be revised for the closing of his novel Sanctuary. While in
France, he would sometimes go to the cafй that James Joyce would
frequent, but the interminably shy Faulkner never dared speak to him.
After visiting England he returned to the United States in December

In February 1926, Soldiers’ Pay was published by Boni and Liveright in
an edition of 2,500 copies. Again in New Orleans, he began working on
his second novel Mosquitoes, a satirical novel with characters based
closely upon his literary milieu in New Orleans; set aboard a yacht in
Lake Pontchartrain, the novel is today considered one of Faulkner’s
weakest. For his third novel, however, Faulkner considered some advice
Anderson had given him that he should write about his native region. In
doing so, he drew upon both regional geography and family history
(particularly his great-grandfather’s Civil War and post-war exploits)
to create “Yocona” County, later renamed “Yoknapatawpha.” In a 1956
interview, Faulkner described the liberating effect the creation of his
fictional county had for him as an artist: “Beginning with Sartoris I
discovered that my own little postage stamp of native soil was worth
writing about and that I would never live long enough to exhaust it, and
by sublimating the actual into apocryphal I would have complete liberty
to use whatever talent I might have to its absolute top” [37, p.165].

Faulkner may have been excited by his latest achievement, but his
publisher was less thrilled: Liveright refused to publish the novel,
which Faulkner had titled Flags in the Dust. Dejected, he began to shop
the novel around to other publishers, but with similar results. In the
meantime, believing his career as a writer all but over, he began to
write a novel strictly for pleasure, with no regard, he said, for its
eventual publication. The purged novel, trimmed by about a third, was
published in January 1929 under the title Sartoris [40].

After The Sound and the Fury was published in October 1929, Faulkner had
to turn his attention to making money. Earlier that year, he had written
Sanctuary, a novel which Faulkner later claimed in an introduction he
conceived “deliberately to make money”. The novel was immediately turned
down by the publisher. Faulkner’s need for income stemmed largely from
his growing family. In April, Estelle Oldham had divorced Cornell
Franklin, and in June she and Faulkner were married at or near College
Hill Presbyterian Church. Estelle brought two children to the marriage.
Faulkner, now working nights at a power plant, wrote As I Lay Dying,
later claiming it was a “tour de force” and that he had written it “in
six weeks, without changing a word” [41, p.310-316].

Though his hyperbolic claims about the novel were not entirely true, As
I Lay Dying is nevertheless a masterfully written successor to The Sound
and the Fury. As with the earlier work, the novel focuses on a family
and is told stream-of-conscious style by different narrators, but rather
than an aristocratic family, the focus here is on lower-class farm
laborers from southern Yoknapatawpha County, the Bundrens, whose
matriarch, Addie, has died and had asked to be buried in Jefferson, “a
day’s hard ride away” to the north. The novel would be published in
October 1930.

That same year, his publisher had a change of heart about publishing
Sanctuary and sent galley proofs to Faulkner for proofreading, but
Faulkner decided, at considerable personal expense, to drastically
revise the novel. The novel, which features the rape and kidnaping of an
Ole Miss coed, Temple Drake, by a sinister bootlegger named Popeye,
shocked and horrified readers, particularly in Oxford; published in
February 1931, Sanctuary would be Faulkner’s best-selling novel until
The Wild Palms was published in 1939 [42].

In January 1931, Estelle gave birth to a daughter, Alabama. The child,
born prematurely, would live only a few days. Faulkner’s first
collection of short stories, These 13, would be published in September
and dedicated to “Estelle and Alabama”.

Soon after Alabama’s death, Faulkner began writing a novel tentatively
titled Dark House, which would feature a man of uncertain racial lineage
who, as an orphaned child, was named Joe Christmas. In this Faulkner’s
first major exploration of race he examines the lives of outcasts in
Yoknapatawpha County, including Joanna Burden, the granddaughter and
sister of civil rights activists gunned down in the town square; Gail
Hightower, so caught up in family pride and heritage that he ignores his
own wife’s decline into infidelity and eventual suicide; and Lena Grove,
a (literally) barefoot and pregnant girl from Alabama whose journey to
find the father of her child both opens and closes the novel. At the
center of the novel is the orphan, the enigmatic Joe Christmas, who
defies easy categorization into either race, white or black [40].

The year 1932 would mark the beginning of a new sometime profession for
Faulkner, as screenwriter in Hollywood. During an extended trip to New
York City the previous year, he had made a number of important contacts
in Hollywood, including actress Tallulah Bankhead. In April 1932,
Faulkner signed a six-week contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and in May
Faulkner initiated what would be the first of many stints as
screenwriter in Hollywood. In July, Faulkner met director Howard Hawks,
with whom he shared a common passion for flying and hunting. Of the six
screenplays for which Faulkner would receive on-screen credit, five
would be for films directed by Hawks, the first of which was Today We
Live (1933), based on Faulkner’s short story Turn About [35, p.47-52].

Faulkner returned to Oxford in August after the sudden death of his
father. With the addition of his mother to his growing number of
dependents, Faulkner needed money. He returned to Hollywood in October
with his mother and younger brother Dean, and sold Paramount the rights
to film Sanctuary. The film, retitled The Story of Temple Drake, opened
in May 1933, one month after the Memphis premiere of Today We Live which
Faulkner attended. That spring also saw the publication of A Green
Bough, Faulkner’s second and last collection of poetry.

In June, Estelle gave birth to Faulkner’s only surviving daughter, Jill.
The following winter, Faulkner wrote to his publisher that he was
working on a new novel whose working title, like Light in August before,
was Dark House. “Roughly”, he wrote, “the theme is a man who outraged
the land, and the land then turned and destroyed the man’s family.
Quentin Compson, of the “Sound & Fury”, tells it, or ties it together;
he is the protagonist so that it is not complete apocrypha” [17,

In April 1934, Faulkner published a second collection of stories, Doctor
Martino and Other Stories. That spring, he began a series of Civil War
stories to be sold to The Saturday Evening Post. Faulkner would later
revise and collect them together to form the novel The Unvanquished
(1938). In March 1935, he published the non-Yoknapatawpha novel Pylon,
which was inspired apparently by the death of Captain Merle Nelson
during an air show on February 14, 1934, at the inauguration of an
airport in New Orleans. A few months later, in November, his brother
Dean was killed in a crash.

In December, Faulkner began another “tour of duty” in Hollywood working
with Hawks, this time at 20th Century-Fox, where he met Meta Carpenter,
Hawks’ secretary and script girl, with whom Faulkner would have an
affair. Late that month, Faulkner and collaborator Joel Sayre completed
a screenplay for the film The Road to Glory, which would premiere in
June 1936 [42].

Today We Live (1933), starring Franchot Tone, Joan Crawford, and Robert
Young, was Faulkner’s first credited screenplay and the only one he
wrote for the big screen based on his own published fiction.

Faulkner spent much of 1936 and the first eight months of 1937 in
Hollywood, again working for 20th Century-Fox, receiving on-screen
writing credit for Slave Ship (1937) and contributing to the story for
Gunga Din (1939). In April, his mistress, Meta Carpenter, married
Wolfgang Rebner and went with him to Germany. Back at Rowan Oak in
September, Faulkner began working on a new novel, which would consist of
two short novellas with two completely separate casts of characters
appearing alternately throughout the book. Faulkner’s title for the book
was If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, consisting of the novellas The Wild
Palms and Old Man.

In February 1938, Random House published The Unvanquished, a novel
consisting of seven stories, six of which had originally appeared in an
earlier form in The Saturday Evening Post. A kind of “prequel” to
Faulkner’s first Yoknapatawpha novel, The Unvanquished tells the earlier
history of the Sartoris family during and immediately after the Civil
War, focusing especially on Bayard Sartoris, son of the legendary
Colonel John Sartoris who, like Faulkner’s real-life great-grandfather,
was gunned down in the street by a former business partner.

While in New York in the fall of 1938, Faulkner began writing a short
story, Barn Burning, which would be published in Harper’s the following
year. But Faulkner was not finished with the story. He had in mind a
trilogy about the Snopes family, a lower-class rural laboring white
family who, unlike the Compsons and Sartorises of other Faulkner novels,
had little regard for southern tradition, heritage, or lineage. The
Snopes, often regarded as Faulkner’s metaphor for the rising “redneck”
middle class in the South, more interested in avaricious commercial gain
than honor or pride, were to be led in the trilogy by the enterprising
Flem Snopes, who in the original story Barn Burning had appeared only
briefly as the eldest son of Ab Snopes [41, p. 310-318].

In January 1939, Faulkner was elected to the National Institute of Arts
and Letters. That same month, If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem was published
under the title The Wild Palms. In April 1940, the first book of the
Snopes trilogy, The Hamlet, was published by Random House. Featuring a
reworked version of Barn Burning and other stories Faulkner had
published, including Spotted Horses, the novel follows Flem Snopes from
being the poor son of a barn-burning sharecropper to his securing a
storekeeper’s job, as “fire insurance”, in the hamlet of Frenchman’s
Bend (in southeastern Yoknapatawpha County).

Throughout 1941, Faulkner spent much of his time writing and reworking
stories into an episodic novel about the McCaslin family, several
members of whom had appeared briefly in The Unvanquished. Though several
stories that would comprise Go Down, Moses had been published
separately, Faulkner revised extensively the parts that would comprise
the novel, which spans more than 100 years in the history of
Yoknapatawpha County.

Barn Burning was made into a short film as part of the The American
Short Story Collection. Starring Tommy Lee Jones as Ab Snopes, Shawn
Whittington as Sartie, and Jimmy Faulkner, William Faulkner’s nephew, as
Major De Spain, the video is excellent for classroom usage.

Sale of his novels, meanwhile, had slumped, so he returned to California
in July 1942 to begin another stint at screen writing, this time for
Warner Brothers, who insisted he sign for seven years, which he was told
was “only a formality”.

The following year, he began to work intermittently on A Fable, a novel
whose plot would revolve around a reincarnation of Christ during the
First World War. It would take him more than ten years to complete it
[26]. Also in 1943, he was assigned to write the screenplay for
Hemingway’s novel To Have and Have Not, but because of an extended
vacation, he did not begin work on it until February 1944. In August
1944, Faulkner began writing a screenplay adaptation of Raymond
Chandler’s detective novel The Big Sleep. It would premiere, also
starring Bogart and Bacall, in August 1946. During this period, Faulkner
also collaborated with Jean Renoir on his film The Southerner, but with
no screen credit since it would violate his Warner Brothers contract. It
would premiere in August 1945. The three films together would represent
the pinnacle of Faulkner’s screen writing career.

In March 1947, while continuing to work on his Christ fable, he wrote
letters to the Oxford newspaper to support the preservation of the old
courthouse on the town square, which some townspeople had proposed
demolishing to build a larger one. In April, he agreed to meet in
question-and-answer sessions with English classes at the University of
Mississippi, but he invited controversy when his candid statement about
Hemingway – “he has no courage, has never climbed out on a limb … has
never used a word where the reader might check his usage by a
dictionary” [13, p.94] – was included in a press release about the
sessions. When Hemingway read the remarks, he was hurt, moved even to
write a letter answering the charge that he lacked “courage”, but when
it grew too long, he asked a friend, Brigadier General C.T. Lanham to
write and tell Faulkner only what he knew about Hemingway’s heroism as a
war correspondent. He wrote Hemingway apologizing and saying, “I hope it
won’t matter a damn to you. But if or whenever it does, please accept
another squirm from yours truly” [13, p.95].

In January 1948, Faulkner put aside A Fable to write a novel he
considered a detective story. The central character is Lucas Beauchamp,
who had appeared as a key descendant of old Lucius Quintus Carothers
McCaslin in Go Down, Moses, upon whose name his own was based. In the
novel Beauchamp is accused of murdering a white man and must rely upon
the wits of a teenage boy, Chick Mallison, to clear his name before the
lynch mob arrives to do its job. In July, MGM purchased the film rights
to the novel, and in October, Intruder in the Dust was published. In the
spring of 1949, director Clarence Brown and a film crew descended upon
Oxford, Mississippi, to film the novel on location, and while the
townspeople eagerly welcomed the film-makers, even playing a number of
extra and minor roles in the film, Faulkner was very reluctant to
participate, though he may have helped to rework the final scene. In
October 1949, the world premiere of Brown’s Intruder in the Dust took
place at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford. Faulkner attended at the
insistence of his Aunt Alabama McLean [7].

In November, Faulkner published Knight’s Gambit, a collection of
detective stories including Tomorrow and Smoke. That same month, in
Stockholm, fifteen of the eighteen members of the Swedish Academy voted
to award the Nobel Prize for literature to Faulkner, but since a
unanimous vote was required, the awarding of the prize was delayed by a
year. The world premiere of the film version of Intruder in the Dust
occurred at the Lyric Theatre in Oxford in 1949 [10].

In the summer of 1949, Faulkner had met Joan Williams, a young student
and author of a prize-winning story. In 1950, he began collaboration
with her on Requiem for a Nun, a part-prose, part-play sequel to
Sanctuary. In narrative prose sections preceding each of the play’s
three acts, Faulkner details some of the early history of Jefferson,
Yoknapatawpha County, and the state of Mississippi. His collaboration
with Williams would eventually grow into a love affair.

In June 1950, Faulkner was awarded the Howells Medal for distinguished
work in American fiction. In August, he published Collected Stories, the
third and last collection of stories published by Faulkner. It includes
forty-two of the forty-six stories published in magazines since 1930,
excluding those which he had published or incorporated into The
Unvanquished, The Hamlet, Go Down, Moses, and Knight’s Gambit. Two
months later, Faulkner received word that the Swedish Academy had voted
to award him and Bertrand Russell as corecipients of the Nobel Prize for
literature, Russell for 1950 and Faulkner for the previous year. At
first he refused to go to Stockholm to receive the award, but pressured
by the U.S. State Department, the Swedish Ambassador to the United
States, and finally by his own family, he agreed to go [13, p.101-115].

On December 10, he delivered his acceptance speech to the academy in a
voice so low and rapid that few could make out what he was saying, but
when his words were published in the newspaper the following day, it was
recognized for its brilliance; in later years, Faulkner’s speech would
be lauded as the best speech ever given at a Nobel ceremony. In it,
Faulkner alluded to the impending Cold War and the constant fear, “a
general and universal physical fear”, whose consequence was to make “the
young man or woman writing today forgets the problems of the human heart
in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only
that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat”. The artist,
Faulkner said, must re-learn “the old verities and truths of the heart,
the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed
– love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice” [7,
p.363]. He concludes on an optimistic note: “I decline to accept the end
of man… I believe that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He
is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible
voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and
sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s duty is to write about
these things…. The poet’s voice need not merely be the record of man,
it can be one of the props, the pillars to help him endure and prevail”
[7, p.364].

At Howard Hawks’ request, Faulkner returned to Hollywood one last time
in February 1951 to rework a script titled The Left Hand of God for 20th
Century-Fox. The following month, he was awarded the National Book Award
for Collected Stories, and in May, shortly after having delivered the
commencement address at his daughter’s high school graduation ceremony,
French President Vincent Auriol bestowed the award of Legion of Honor
upon Faulkner [9].

While in New York in January 1953, he adapted his story The Brooch for
television while also working on A Fable and suffering bouts of back
pain and alcoholism that required hospitalization. In March he was again
hospitalized. The following month, Estelle suffered a hemorrhage and
heart attack, so Faulkner returned to Oxford. He returned to New York in
May, where he met Dylan Thomas. In June, he delivered an address to
Jill’s graduating class at Pine Manor Junior College. Following another
hospitalization in September, Faulkner was horrified to find his
sacrosanct privacy invaded by the publication of a two-part biographical
article by Robert Coughlan in September and October’s issues of Life
magazine [11].

In November, Albert Camus’ agent wrote Faulkner requesting permission to
adapt Requiem for a Nun for the stage, to which Faulkner agreed. At the
end of the month, he traveled to Egypt to assist Howard Hawks in the
filming of Land of the Pharaohs, their last collaboration. For the next
several months, he traveled throughout Europe. He returned to Oxford at
the end of April 1954, after a six-month absence. That same month saw
the publication of Mississippi, a mostly nonfiction article mingling
history, his childhood, and his own work against the backdrop of his
native state, in Holiday magazine; and The Faulkner Reader, an anthology
which includes the complete text of The Sound and the Fury, three
additional long stories (or “novellas”) – The Bear from Go Down, Moses,
Old Man from The Wild Palms, and Spotted Horses from The Hamlet – as
well as several other stories and novel excerpts. The three novellas
would in 1958 be published together under the title Three Famous Short
Novels. In August, after more than ten years of work, Faulkner finally
published A Fable, dedicating it to Jill and Estelle. Later that month,
Jill and Paul Summers were married in Oxford [23].

To keep track of the complex plot in A Fable, Faulkner wrote outlines of
the novel’s seven days on the wall in his office at Rowan Oak.

At the end of June 1954, Faulkner had accepted an invitation from the
U.S. State Department to attend an international writers conference in
San Paulo in August. Now an internationally known public figure,
Faulkner no longer refused to appear in public in his own nation, and he
usually accepted the increasing requests by the State Department to
attend cultural events abroad. In addition, he also began to take a
public stand as a moderate, if not liberal, southerner in the growing
debate over school integration.

Though A Fable is generally considered one of Faulkner’s weakest novels,
in January 1955, it earned the National Book Award for Fiction and in
May a Pulitzer Prize in fiction. In August, Faulkner began a
three-month, seven-nation goodwill tour at the request of the State
Department, traveling first to Japan, where at Nagano he participated in
a seminar whose proceedings, along with two speeches he had delivered,
were published as Faulkner at Nagano. Finally he returned to the United
States in October, during which month Random House published Big Woods:
The Hunting Stories, a collection of four previously published stories
about hunting with five “interchapters” at the beginning and end of the
book and between chapters to set or change the mood. He dedicated the
book to his editor at Random House, Saxe Commins [13, p.22-29].

In November, Faulkner condemned segregation in an address before the
Southern Historical Association in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, where
because of segregation much effort was needed for blacks to be admitted.
The speech was published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal under the
headline “A mixed audience hears Faulkner condemn the ‘shame’ of
segregation”. Though Faulkner opposed segregation, however, he opposed
federal involvement in the issue, which resulted in his being understood
by neither southern conservatives nor northern liberals. Faulkner’s
increasingly vocal stand on the issues of race drew fire from his fellow
southerners, including anonymous threats and rejection by his own
brother, John. Misunderstanding over Faulkner’s views increased when in
a February 1956 interview with a London Sunday Times correspondent he
was quoted as saying that he would “fight for Mississippi against the
United States, even if it meant going out into the street and shooting
Negroes” [13].

In April 1956, black civil rights legend W.E.B. Du Bois challenged
Faulkner to a debate on integration on the steps of the courthouse in
Sumner, Mississippi, where the accused in the Emmett Till murder trial
had been acquitted by an all-white jury. Faulkner declined in a
telegram, stating “I do not believe there is a debatable point between
us. We both agree in advance that the position you will take is right
morally, legally, and ethically. If it is not evident to you that the
position I take in asking for moderation and patience is right
practically then we will both waste our breath in debate” [7, p.362].

In September, Camus’ adaptation of Requiem for a Nun premiered at the
Thйвtre des Mathurins. That same month, Faulkner became involved in the
Eisenhower administration’s “People-to-People Program”, the aim of which
was to promote American culture behind the Iron Curtain. At the end of
September a steering committee consisting of Faulkner, John Steinbeck,
and Donald Hall drew up several “resolutions”, including one supporting
the liberation of Ezra Pound, but Faulkner would withdraw from the
committee three months later.

From February to June 1957, Faulkner was writer-in-residence at the
University of Virginia and agreed to a number of question-and-answer
sessions with the students, faculty, and faculty spouses. Highlights of
the taped sessions would be published in 1959 by Professors Joseph
Blotner and Frederick Gwynn under the title “Faulkner in the University”

In May 1957 Faulkner published The Town, the second volume of the
“Snopes” trilogy. Picking up where The Hamlet left off, it depicts Flem
Snopes’ ruthless struggle to take over the town of Jefferson. Now
dividing his time between Oxford and Charlottesville, from February to
May 1958 he fulfilled his second term as writer-in-residence at
Virginia. Also while living in Virginia, he began to relish fox-hunting,
and he was invited to join the Farmington Hunt Club, an achievement he
displayed proudly by posing for photographs and portraits in his pink
membership coat. In December, Jill’s second son, William, was born, and
the following month saw the premiere of Requiem for a Nun on stage at
the John Golden Theater in New York, making the United States the
thirteenth nation in which the play had been produced [23].

Throughout 1960, Faulkner continued to divide his time between Oxford
and Charlottesville. On October 16, Faulkner’s mother, Maud Butler
Falkner, died at the age of 88. A talented painter who had completed
nearly 600 paintings after 1941, she had remained close to her eldest
son throughout her life.

In January 1961, Faulkner willed all his manuscripts to the William
Faulkner Foundation at the University of Virginia. In February, he
accepted an invitation from General William Westmoreland to visit the
military academy at West Point. In April, Faulkner went on a final trip
abroad for the State Department, this time to Venezuela, where he was
the guest of President Rуmulo Betancourt. He spent the summer in Oxford,
where in August he completed the manuscript for his nineteenth and final
novel. Titled The Reivers, an archaic Scottish spelling of an old term
for “thieves”, the novel is a light-hearted romp set at the turn of the
century in which Boon Hogganbeck takes eleven-year-old Lucius “Loosh”
Priest and a stowaway, Ned McCaslin, the Priest family’s black coachman,
on a joyride to a Memphis brothel in Loosh’s grandfather’s Winton Flyer
automobile while “Boss” Priest is away at a funeral. Beginning the
novel, subtitled A Reminiscence, with the phrase “Grandfather said…”
Faulkner dedicated it to “Victoria, Mark, Paul, William, Burks”, his
grandchildren by his two step-children and biological daughter. The
novel, published in June 1962, would posthumously earn for Faulkner his
second Pulitzer Prize for fiction [21, p.30-48].

In January of that year, Faulkner suffered another fall from a horse,
forcing yet another hospital stay. In April, he again visited West Point
with his wife, daughter, and son-in-law, and the following month in New
York, fellow Mississippi writer Eudora Welty presented Faulkner with the
Gold Medal for Fiction awarded by the American Academy of Arts and

On June 17, Faulkner was again injured by a fall from a horse. In
constant pain now, he signaled something was wrong when he asked on July
5 to be taken to Wright’s Sanatorium in Byhalia. Though he had been a
patient there many times, he had always been taken there before against
his will. His nephew, Jimmy, and Estelle accompanied him on the 65-mile
trip to Byhalia, where he was admitted at 6 p.m. Less than eight hours
later, at about 1:30 a.m. on July 6, 1962 – the Old Colonel’s birthday –
his heart stopped, and though the doctor on duty applied external heart
massage for forty-five minutes, he could not resuscitate him. William
Faulkner died of a heart attack at the age of 64. He was buried on July
7 at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Oxford. As calls of condolence came upon
the family from around the world and the press – including novelist
William Styron, who covered the funeral for Life magazine – clamored for
answers to their questions from family members, a family representative
relayed to them a message from the family: “Until he’s buried he belongs
to the family. After that he belongs to the world”.

1.2 W. Faulkner’s aesthetic views

Martin A. Bertman said that there is something he would call the
metaphysical function of literature. It is often overlooked by critics,
since, as an interpretive dimension, its importance relates only to
great literature. Critical accessibility to great literature, however,
is incomplete without its inclusion.

The great literary work’s metaphysical function is to bring the reader
to the periphery of his existence. The reader can contemplate the work,
have a liberating emotion which puts a distance between himself and
other emotions generated by the work. This emotion is the prerational
basis for rational discrimination. It is the existential condition that
provides the focus for all levels of such discriminations. It suggests
the continued relevance of the great work, for those who have the
capacity for appropriate discrimination.

Faulkner’s writings by their greatness exemplify this. These writings,
especially some of the novels, present an added characteristic, which
Martin Bertman called William Faulkner’s Thucydidean aesthetic.

Faulkner thinks to find the individual through history. Like Thucydides,
he believes that an examination of the past conflicts of men will
uncover for each man the “old verities”. Faulkner’s literary pursuit of
the meaning of the Civil War searches for the old verities and truths
lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and
pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice”, as he said in his
acceptance of the Noble Prize in 1946. His approach assumes the
eternality of human nature; and, further, it elevates character, in
transaction with chance, as the essential explanatory form of human

It is understandable that the modern mentality, heir both to
evolutionary models and to relativistic theories, can easily
misunderstand Faulkner’s historical project cum literature. It may be
seen as mere quaint moral mastication or, yet worse, be misunderstood as
subject matter rather than as the method or vehicle of the subject
matter [5, p.99-105].

William Faulkner in his speech at the Nobel Banquet at the City Hall in
Stockholm in December 1950 said: “I feel that this award was not made to
me as a man, but to my work – a life’s work in the agony and sweat of
the human spirit, not for glory and least of all for profit, but to
create out of the materials of the human spirit something which did not
exist before. So this award is only mine in trust. It will not be
difficult to find a dedication for the money part of it commensurate
with the purpose and significance of its origin. But I would like to do
the same with the acclaim too, by using this moment as a pinnacle from
which I might be listened to by the young men and women already
dedicated to the same anguish and travail, among whom is already that
one who will someday stand here where I am standing.

Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long
sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems
of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up?
Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the
problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make
good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony
and the sweat.

He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all
things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever,
leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and
truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is
ephemeral and doomed – love and honor and pity and pride and compassion
and sacrifice.

Until he relearns these things, he will write as though he stood among
and watched the end of man. I decline to accept the end of man. It is
easy enough to say that man is immortal simply because he will endure:
that when the last dingdong of doom has clanged and faded from the last
worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening, that
even then there will still be one more sound: that of his puny
inexhaustible voice, still talking. I refuse to accept this. I believe
that man will not merely endure: he will prevail. He is immortal, not
because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because
he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and
endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s duty is to write about these things.
It is his privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart, by
reminding him of the courage and honor and hope and pride and compassion
and pity and sacrifice which have been the glory of his past. The poet’s
voice need not merely be the record of man, it can be one of the props,
the pillars to help him endure and prevail” [3, p.203-205].

In his novel A Fable Faulkner shows that his aesthetic views are closely
connected with the politics. One instance is the moment when ethics
trespasses on politics and the marshal incorporates ethics into his
politics. The marshal’s profound anguish, coming from the conflict
between his ardent desire to save his son’s life and his sense of
obligation to execute him, proves that it originates exactly from the
ethics that Marthe represents. On the night after meeting with Marthe,
he even tries to persuade the Corporal to escape abroad, saying, “there
is the earth. You will have half of it now” [14, p.291], and “I will
take Polchek tomorrow, execute him with rote and fanfare” [14, p.292] as
“the lamb which saved Isaac” [14, p.292], by the name of which he means
his son.

Against the marshal’s wishes, the Corporal chooses to be executed in
order to show the adherents that he has not distorted his belief in his
action. Therefore, even if prior to the talk with his son the marshal
had bragged, “by destroying his life tomorrow morning, I will establish
forever that he didn’t even live in vain, let alone die so” [14, p.280],
the marshal’s failure to save his son’s life means that he loses to him
as much as Marthe loses to him in their confrontation concerning the
Corporal’s life. Besides that, Marthe’s idea that the Corporal loses by
death, which is predicated by her ethics, is eventually relativized by
the Corporal’s idea that he wins by death, while the Marshal, who
understands that death means victory for his son, cannot realize his
wish to save his son’s life. All these above suggest that, despite the
ultimate political utilization of the Corporal’s mutiny and its failure,
Marthe, the marshal and the Corporal all lose and win at the same time,
with the political/ethical struggle over the execution suspended in

Thus, the Corporal’s temporary success in the complete suspension of
warfare is the realization of Marthe’s ethics in the form of politics;
more exactly, it is the fulfillment of his design to obtaining the
hegemony of ethics in a marshal-like forcible way. This is because, in
actuality, the Corporal risks three thousand privates’ lives to raise a
mutiny for suspension of warfare, and this makes us acknowledge that in
his mutinous action there does exist the element of the politics the
marshal stands for. In other words, the Corporal’s anti-war action rests
in the chiasma of Marthe’s ethics and the marshal’s politics. That is to
say, Marthe’s ethics is certainly not represented as belonging to the
women’s exclusive sphere.

Ted Atkinson in his book “Faulkner and the Great Depression: Aesthetics,
Ideology, and Cultural Politics” makes interdisciplinary analysis of
Faulkner’s aesthetic and ideological response to the anxieties that
characterized the South and the nation during hard times, Atkinson makes
a convincing argument for re-evaluating Faulkner’s fiction between 1927
and 1941 in the context of dominant social and political debates going
on at the time. Atkinson makes logical connections between history,
biography, cultural theory, and close textual analysis of individual
works to highlight Faulkner’s insightful engagement with the cultural
politics that defined the thirties [12].

While the particular focus of this book is the Great Depression,
Atkinson’s persuasive refutation of the claim that Faulkner’s
experimental fiction is detached from social, political, and economic
realities invites others to further examine Faulkner’s work as
reflective and constitutive of the social milieu in which he lived and
wrote. In charting the history of political debates over literary
aesthetics, Atkinson investigates the reasons behind Faulkner’s
longstanding reputation as apolitical and “regionally challenged”. He
provides a thorough overview both of the perceived schism between
proponents of formalism and those of social realism, and of the recent
theory illustrating the complex negotiation between them.

Atkinson presents interesting material showing the positive reception of
Faulkner in the thirties by advocates of proletarianism, such as
publications like New Masses, before launching into a careful analysis
that effectively demonstrates how some of Faulkner’s most modernist
works defy the simplistic polarity between formalism and realism that
according to Atkinson has blinded critics to the political Faulkner and
prevented them from sufficiently seeing Faulkner “as a writer with his
finger on the pulse of American cultural politics” [12, p.105-114].

By situating Faulkner in the context of the relationship between art and
politics, Atkinson provides acute and lucid readings of Faulkner’s
fiction. He sees Mosquitoes as Faulkner’s effort to deal with the
changing role of the artist amidst a new rise in social consciousness in
the thirties, and The Sound and the Fury as a representation of the
inevitable relationship between literary and capitalist modes of
production. Other texts, according to Atkinson, mediate some of the
central economic and political concerns of the Depression era; he reads
representations of rape, lynching, and mob violence in Sanctuary, Light
in August, Absalom, Absalom!, and Dry September in the context of
fascism and the popularity of Hollywood gangster movies during the
thirties, and examines depictions of revolutionary sentiments in As I
Lay Dying, Barn Burning, The Hamlet, and The Tall Men in the context of
rural dissent, federal relief, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933,
and the social activism of groups like the STFU (Southern Tenant
Farmers’ Union) and the SCU (Share Cropper’s Union) [34].

Finally Atkinson understands The Unvanquished as part of a broader trend
in American popular culture in the thirties to view the Great Depression
through the Civil War, and considers the figure of Granny both as a
Southern matriarch and as a gangster figure. Constantly scrutinizing the
relationship between text and context, Atkinson reads Faulkner’s texts
both as works of art and as cultural artifacts produced by and engaged
with the multiple and often contradictory socio-cultural forces of the

While Atkinson offers interpretations of specific characters and texts,
he resists decisive readings of what Faulkner’s texts reveal about
politics, ideology, and the nature of capitalism; rather, he claims to
approach Faulkner’s fiction and life “by accepting, rather than trying
to resolve, the dialectical forces of contradiction” and “thus reading
his texts in context as sites of intense ideological negotiation and
political struggle” that give aesthetic expression to the Depression-era
desire to navigate and order multiple voices. In my opinion, this
methodology is paradoxically both strength and limitation. On the one
hand, as Atkinson draws attention to the many competing visions of the
American experience embedded in the interplay of ideas within and
between Faulkner’s texts, he is able to present Faulkner’s “nuanced” and
“complex” treatments of social relations that produce “a kind of realism
cast aside in the utopian endeavors of social realism”. Such an approach
allows Atkinson to grapple with modernism’s simultaneous escape from and
attachment to ideology, Faulkner’s “ambivalent agrarianism”, and the
conflict in Faulkner’s work between the critique of a socioeconomic
order rooted in capitalism and the defense of classical liberalism. On
the other hand, Atkinson’s approach leads him to tease out so many
divergent voices from Faulkner’s work that it comes somewhat at the
expense of interrogating any one at great length.

His approach also weds him to seeing Faulkner as always shifting between
leftist and conservative viewpoints – meditating on class warfare and
glimpsing the specter of revolution but also sharing in the
“dominant-class anxiety” over social upheaval and the subsequent longing
to re-impose order. As a result Atkinson seems reluctant, or unable, to
consider a more overtly radical Faulkner who escapes his own class
position. Atkinson maintains that Faulkner’s work “displays chronic
anxiety over dissident impulses that could produce civil unrest and, in
turn, fundamental changes in the existing order” and that Faulkner uses
art to enact “a process not unlike, but not simply reflective of, the
monumental political effort to bring some semblance of order to a
volatile mix of competing interests”. One is left suspecting that there
might also be textual moments that resist this desire for order at any
cost, but Atkinson doesn’t acknowledge any.

Although Atkinson’s subject is certainly vast, and his need to focus on
a few of Faulkner’s works is inevitable, one is also left wondering if
some omissions such as Pylon, If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem, and the
figure of Wash Jones both in the short story Wash Jones and Absalom,
Absalom! might reveal not just a political Faulkner, but a Faulkner who
did not always value order, especially if it came at the expense of
class struggle and social justice.


2.1 Parables as a genre

A parable is a brief, succinct story, in prose or verse that illustrates
a moral or religious lesson. It differs from a fable in that fables use
animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters,
while parables generally feature human characters. It is a type of

Some scholars of the New Testament apply the term “parable” only to the
parables of Jesus, though that is not a common restriction of the term.
Parables such as “The Prodigal Son” are central to Jesus’ teaching
method in both the canonical narratives and the apocrypha. The word
“parable” comes from the Greek “????????” (parabol?), the name given by
Greek rhetoricians to any fictive illustration in the form of a brief
narrative. Later it came to mean a fictitious narrative, generally
referring to something that might naturally occur, by which spiritual
and moral matters might be conveyed.

A parable is a short tale that illustrates universal truth, one of the
simplest of narratives. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and
shows the results. It often involves a character facing a moral dilemma,
or making a questionable decision and then suffering the consequences.
As with a fable, a parable generally relates a single, simple,
consistent action, without extraneous detail or distracting
circumstances. Examples of parables are Ignacy Krasicki’s Son and
Father, The Farmer, Litigants and The Drunkard, William Golding’s Lord
of the Flies, Spire and others [43].

Many folktales could be viewed as extended parables and many fairy tales
also, except for their magical settings. The prototypical parable
differs from the apologue in that it is a realistic story that seems
inherently probable and takes place in a familiar setting of life.

A parable is like a metaphor that has been extended to form a brief,
coherent fiction. Christian parables have recently been studied as
extended metaphors, for example by a writer who finds that “parables are
stories about ordinary men and women who find in the midst of their
everyday lives surprising things happening. They are not about ‘giants
of the faith’ who have religious visions”. Needless to say, “extended
metaphor” alone is not in itself a sufficient description of parable;
the characteristics of an “extended metaphor” are shared by the fable
and are the essential core of allegory [43, 140-156].

Unlike the situation with a simile, a parable’s parallel meaning is
unspoken and implicit, though not ordinarily secret.

The defining characteristic of the parable is the presence of a
prescriptive subtext suggesting how a person should behave or believe.
Aside from providing guidance and suggestions for proper action in life,
parables frequently use metaphorical language which allows people to
more easily discuss difficult or complex ideas. In Plato’s Republic,
parables like the “Parable of the Cave” (in which one’s understanding of
truth is presented as a story about being deceived by shadows on the
wall of a cave) teach an abstract argument, using a concrete narrative
which is more easily grasped [12].

In the preface to his translation of Aesop’s Fables, George Fyler
Townsend defined “parable” as “the designed use of language purposely
intended to convey a hidden and secret meaning other than that contained
in the words themselves, and which may or may not bear a special
reference to the hearer or reader” [12, p.167-172].

Townsend may have been influenced by the contemporary expression, “to
speak in parables”, connoting obscurity. In common modern uses of
“parable”, though their significance is never explicitly stated,
parables are not generally held to be hidden or secret but on the
contrary are typically straightforward and obvious. It is the allegory
that typically features hidden meanings.

As H.W. Fowler puts it in Modern English Usage, the object of both
parable and allegory “is to enlighten the hearer by submitting to him a
case in which he has apparently no direct concern, and upon which
therefore a disinterested judgment may be elicited from him” [20]. The
parable, though, is more condensed than the allegory: a single principle
comes to bear, and a single moral is deduced as it dawns on the reader
or listener that the conclusion applies equally well to his own
concerns. Parables are favored in the expression of spiritual concepts.
The best known source of parables in Christianity is the Bible, which
contains numerous parables in the Gospels section of the New Testament.
Jesus’ parables, which are attested in many sources and are almost
universally seen as being historical, are thought by scholars such as
John P. Meier to have come from mashalim, a form of Hebrew comparison.
Medieval interpreters of the Bible often treated Jesus’ parables as
detailed allegories, with symbolic correspondences found for every
element in the brief narratives. Modern critics, beginning with Adolf
Jьlicher, regard these interpretations as inappropriate and untenable.
Jьlicher held that these parables usually are intended to make a single
important point, and most recent scholarship agrees [12, 198-205].

In Sufi tradition, parables (“teaching stories”) are used for imparting
lessons and values. Recent authors such as Idries Shah and Anthony de
Mello have helped popularize these stories beyond Sufi circles.

Modern stories can be used as parables. A mid-19th-century parable, the
“Parable of the Broken Window”, exposes a fallacy in economic thinking.

Heinz Politzer, the author of “Franz Kafka: Parable and Paradox”,
defined a parable as a paradox formed into a story. Speaking about
Kafka’s special gift for writing parables, he concluded, “He created
symbols which through their paradoxical form expressed the inexpressible
without betraying it”. Three distinctive elements of parable shine
through this opening definition of the genre. First, a parable must
contain a paradox or paradoxes – irreconcilable but equally plausible
configurations of reality. Secondly, the parabolic form of discourse is
not a gratuitous form, i.e. one among many forms that an author happens
to choose, but rather one that the parabler must choose for a raid on
the inexpressible. (The parable might choose its writer, if that doesn’t
make matters more obscure). In this sense the creator of a parable uses
symbols the way a poet uses metaphorical language, not as ornament, but
as the only way to speak. A third element concerns the duty of the
artist to express the inexpressible without violating it. The idea of
violation would include reductionism, making paradoxical elements of
life seem simpler and more resolvable than they actually are. Or
reaching closure in a story where psychic suspension would be the only
honest denouement. This element of parables may be what leaves readers
“hanging” [12].

Part of the difficulty in orienting parables among related literary
genre – allegories, myths, fables, fairy tales, aphoristic or didactic
stories – stems from the fact that parable study was once the exclusive
province of Biblical scholars who considered all of the stories of the
Old and New Testaments to be parables. While it is true that the Hebrew
word covers all figurative language “from the riddle to the long and
fully developed allegory”, modem scholars have imposed more refinement
on the taxonomies. Some material from the Bible qualifies under modern
definitions of parable, some does not.

The central element of parables is paradox, as Politzer noted. When a
story has been completed there must be an irreducible paradox left. As
Dominick Crossan puts it, “the original paradox should still be there at
any and every level of reading” [12, p.55-63].

The aphorism “A stitch in time saves nine” does no more than extol the
virtue of preventive maintenance or nipping trouble in the bud. This is
true of all expressions or stories that can be reduced to an appeal:
“Act like this and all will be well”. When a story can be translated
into a direct message, and metaphorical expressions replaced by direct
ones, the story cannot be considered a parable.

2.2 Form and content of parables

Marshall McLuhan in “Understanding Media” makes a number of arguments
pertinent to the study of parables as a form. The first is that the form
of communication has proliferate psychic consequences that are
independent of content. To briefly illustrate, reading a play in the
quiet of one’s home and attending a live performance of the same play
will be different psychic and social experiences. At home the ear is
irrelevant, while at the live performance the ear must share the play
with the eye. The home is private and individual whereas the live
performance is public and socially shared. Only at the level of meaning
might the alternative forins merge, but even there, different meanings
may be derived from the “same” experience [23, p.115-124].

A culture may be at least partially defined as the sum of its
communicative forms. Oral cultures, where speaking, listening and
remembering predominate, differ from print cultures where writing,
reading, and record keeping occur. Parables look like an old form since
they still lend themselves to oral presentation. Being a form that has
fallen into disuse outside religious circles, the parable looks alien,
but being strange it also arrests attention, and excites curiosity. New
forms facilitate certain social relationships while rendering others
obsolete [12].

Parables as a form can be better understood against this background of
illustrations. They are stories, of moderate length, amenable to
repeated readings in one short sitting. They surprise the reader, arrest
the regular “processing” of information and, in so doing, irritate the
psyche. The reader cannot quite let go, because letting go is usually
conditioned on closure which in the case of a true parable cannot be
reached [13].

Thus when the parable is officially “ended”, the reader cannot serenely
put the parable to rest. It sits in the psychic craw as a piece of
unfinished business.

Parables are cool, inviting and participatory, unless sabotaged. For
instance, Faulkner draws the reader into the story, but once in, the
participation of the reader begins, rather than ends. The more powerful
the parable, the more furious the involvement, the more sustained and
profound the impact [36, p.56-59]. Many complain that the words of the
wise are always merely parables and of no use in daily life.

Readers can feel their minds bend as they try to follow the above
dialogue. A persistent immersion of students and teachers in parables
would make them different as individuals and different in the ways they
respond to each other. If this seems to be parabolic megalomania and
absurd, perhaps the later material in the paper will make it seem less

Marshall McLuhan distinguishes several features of parables [31]:

1. The parable allows deep communication between the narrator and the
reader. The parable begins “benignly”, disarming readers, drawing them
in, and encouraging them to compare features of the story to their own
experiences. They identify with a certain character or characters, and
with the characters encounter dilemmas or unanticipated circumstances
that call for choices. At this point the story teller departs and
readers must tap their own resources, moving more deeply into self

2. The parable involves indirect communication that provokes self
discovery. Direct communication conveys information and, by reference to
authorities, endorses certain lines of thought. By contrast, a parable
presents a moral knot which the reader must untie by inward reflection
and choice. Whereas direct communication creates observers and
listeners, indirect communication creates participants and action. Those
who prefer to “learn about the world” in a direct and controlled way,
lose control of their responses when they encounter the parable. The
parable carries them, willingly or unwillingly, inward toward
undiscovered dimensions of self.

3. Experiences with indirect communication cultivate the capability for
developing the self. Whereas direct learning does not change the
capability of a person (learning simply adds to knowledge) indirect
communication jolts the person out of mental routines once and for all.
Rather than a simple change in information there is a change in
consciousness. Like the seeds of the sower in the New Testament, the
parable does not always fall on receptive ground, but even in such
instances, the person is placed on notice that a world outside regular
understanding exists.

5. And the last is that parables are memorable and amenable to oral

V.A. Harvey and H. Bergson distinguish some more features of parables
[3, 20]:

1. Generalization of the meaning – the situations described in the
parable can be applied in real life.

2. The structure of the parable reflects the world sensation of the
people who started to learn about the world.

3. An action has a parable character only when it is said in it: act
like this and all will be well.

To understand the parable correctly we should take into account the
following points:

First, it is not necessary that everything described in the parable has
really happened. Moreover not all the actions described are good. The
purpose of the parable consists not in exact transmission of an action,
but in revelation of highest spiritual powers.

Second, it is necessary to realize the purpose of the parable that can
be understood from the preamble or from the circumstances that induced
somebody to create it.

Third, it shows that not all the details of the parable can be
understood on the spiritual level.

Fourth, notwithstanding this, except for the main idea, the parable can
have the details that remind us about other truth or confirm it.

Our research is based on these classifications.


3.1 General characteristic of the novel

A Fable occupies a curious position among Faulkner’s works. Written
during the period of his greatest acclaim, the first major novel he
produced after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1950, it appeared at a time
when critics were undoubtedly most disposed to heap praise upon him for
the slimmest of reasons. A Fable was awarded the Pulitzer Prize and the
National Book Award in 1955, but was considered a failure by practically
all the reviewers and many of the influential critics; few commentators
have since found reasons to alter their opinions. Not only did some
reject it as art; they were actually angered by much of what they saw in
it. The near unanimity of opinion regarding it is not curious in itself;
the reluctance, with which many critics reject it, aside from Faulkner’s
reputation and obvious disappointment, points up one of the novel’s
peculiarities. If one were able to relegate it to the scrap heap of
trivia, and if the negative critical opinion were widespread and
consistent that it is trivial, A Fable would present few problems. But
many, who rejected it, regardless of the extent of their rejection, have
noted the novel’s vast scope, its wide compass in the process of their
analysis [35, p.45-58].

It is readily admitted that the novel was among Faulkner’s most
ambitious undertakings, as one dissenting critic called it, “a
heroically ambitious failure”. No one has hinted that Faulkner wrote it
to capitalize upon the wider recognition his Nobel Prize afforded him. A
Fable was certainly not hastily conceived or written; it took nearly
nine years for Faulkner to complete it. It was perhaps the most
carefully planned of all his books; an examination of the wall of his
study at Rowan Oaks corroborates this opinion. That a great writer may
write an occasional bad novel is hardly news; the contention that A
Fable is an aberration gets support from another widely held view
regarding the total Faulkner canon. One tendency, to see Faulkner as the
chronicler of Yoknapatawpha County, whether his work is viewed n general
as all part of the loose “saga” of Yoknapatawpha or not, is bolstered by
the interlocking of events and characters throughout many of the major
novels and stories. Concomitant with this general attitude is the
opinion that his best works have all been contained within the complex
imaginary Yoknapatawpha world, a world grown out of close observation,
introspection, and lived experience concerning the region and people he
knew and loved best [11, p.115-146].

Although A Fable is among this less currently approved group of novels,
it is not to be degraded merely for this reason. Opinion varies widely
concerning the “form” of A Fable, whether it is an allegory or a
thesis-novel or an attempt to construct a mythology. The functions of
the characters are seen in multitudinous relations, and thematic
interpretations transcribe an arc that is majestic in its scope.
Although the variety of opinion in this regard may serve as testament to
the novel’s richness, the general opinion is that it attests to the
confused form and substance of A Fable. The most pervasive attitude
regarding the novel is that it is primarily an intellectual failure,
ill-conceived and ill-made. Faulkner has been accused of many offenses
against taste and tradition – the less-than-illustrious history of early
Faulkner criticism in America bears eloquent testimony to this fact, but
only very rarely has he ever been accused of carelessness in handling
his materials. That Faulkner, whose proved ability to exercise exquisite
control over extremely complex literary structures (Absalom! Absalom! or
The Sound and the Fury to name only two) could be so blind, could commit
so many obvious blunders in one novel without being sublimely careless,
simply seemed absurd [13].

The “agony and sweat” he admittedly poured into writing A Fable rules
out carelessness as a cause. Also, the very enormity of its apparent
failures, the grand inconsistencies it seems to trumpet, according to
critics, seemed somehow to demand a reexamination. The novel simply
could not be as bad as some opinions would have it its very power to
evoke such strong reactions as late as 1962 seemed to work perversely
against the very criticism which railed against it. Witness the opening
sentence of Irving Howe’s critical appraisal. Only a writer of very
great talent, and a writer with a sublime deafness to the cautions of
his craft, could have brought together so striking an ensemble of
mistakes as Faulkner has in A Fable. Howe’s adjectives almost seem to
belie the very claims he makes [17, p.289-300].

When William Faulkner’s A Fable appeared on the literary scene in 1954,
the immediate response from the book reviewers was intense and various,
both in temper and interpretation of its meaning and worth. This variety
in itself is not unique, but what is striking about the early criticism
is the utter confusion engendered in minds that were presumably attuned
to the many complexities of literary nuance. Nonetheless, the early
reviewers were for the most part either disappointed or downright
hostile, according to their commitment to their various literary or
religious creeds. Whether hostile or merely disappointed, the early
criticism actually posed more questions than it answered [23].

A Fable was for the most part condemned from both literary and religious
viewpoints. The frustration which A Fable caused to certain book
reviewers is perhaps best summed up by the reaction of Harold C.
Gardiner in America: “… it is clearly a symbolic novel; it is just as
clearly, save to those who dare not say boo to geese, a mystery, a
riddle, an enigma, for which a key is sadly needed. Indeed, after a
careful and laborious reading of 437 pages, I have begun to suspect that
there is no key, it is hardly worth the search, for it would at best
open only an empty box…” [23, p.67].

Vivian Mercier noted that “aside from implying that the Christ of today
is the Unknown Soldier, the book seems to offer us a hodge podge of
clichйs” [23, p.22]. He then went on to speculate on Faulkner’s social
instincts. The delay in completion was owing to an instinct not to,
because Faulkner was “an introvert trying to write an extrovert’s novel
[23, p.126].

J. Robert Barth read A Fable as an indication of Faulkner’s shift
forward from the “negative critique” of the Yoknapatawpha cycle to a
more positive attitude toward man. Barth also offered some excellent
insights, such as noting the necessity to see the novel’s dynamism in
terms of a “tension of opposites”. He also maintained that meaning
emerged, not from the novel’s resemblance to the Passion, but from the
attitudes the two major characters represented. Unfortunately, Barth did
not carry these insights as far as he might have, but he is nonetheless
almost unique as an early reviewer in his reading. V. S. Pritchett also
saw A Fable as an indication that Faulkner was emerging from
“destructive despair to conscious affirmation”. Pritchett then dubbed A
Fable a “fantasy to a past dispensation”, with Faulkner a poet –
historian whose purpose in writing it was to “isolate and freeze each
moment of the past”. A Fable at the last was “a blast at the
impersonality of modern life” [23, p.123-154].

Carvel Collins saw A Fable as no marked departure at all, noting that
Faulkner had used the Passion as early as 1929 to inform the structure
of The Sound and the Fury. Collins saw the essential conflict as a clash
between Old Testament and New Testament values. He offers some pertinent
observations about Faulkner’s works as a whole and A Fable in
particular. Faulkner’s works have always suffered from summaries of
them, he noted, and A Fable would suffer most of all owing to the
Biblical parallels. Time has proved Mr. Collins right in this
observation, but his own review, though sympathetic and helpful in some
respects, is actually an oversimplification of the complex structure of
A Fable .The reviewer for Newsweek offered some helpful observations
about the structure of A Fable, noticing that the novel was structured
around a series of conflicts between opposing ideas and characters. But
the review is actually more misleading than helpful at the last, since
the reviewer sees no “intellectual center” in the novel. It is “a
complicated allegory … in a complicated private idiom” [21, p.45-46],
and the reviewer surrenders up some of his confusion when he notes that
“the reader sometimes has the disconcerting feeling of standing in the
middle of a tragic fun house with all the trick mirrors focusing on him
at once” [10, p.13].

The central question A Fable asks is “What is man?” and the answer is
that he is most foul. Taylor saw the theme of A Fable as the “helpless
bestiality of man” [18, p.10-11], one ending where real Christianity
begins, and ended by chastising Faulkner. Referring obliquely to the
Nobel Prize acceptance speech, he noted that “You do not lift the heart
of man by grinding his face in the dirt. Amos Wilder, a year after
Taylor’s article, wrote that A Fable provided an example of an earlier
“uncorrupted” Christianity”. Certain critics focused primarily upon
structural features in A Fable. As a result their findings are generally
more pertinent than those who reacted personally to the more obvious
features of the novel. James Hafley noted the basic antagonism of the
Corporal and the Marshall, but immediately reduced this antagonism to a
conflict between the man of faith and the man of reason. A Fable
presented the failure of democracy, the “rational end of the Western
tradition”, and illustrated the necessity to “escape the crowd” either
through martyrdom or the military [18].

Philip Edward Pastore believed A Fable to be a fable without a strict
moral – it is more descriptive than prescriptive. It is essentially a
description of two opposing sets of moralities shown in their complex
interactions both ideally and historically. Failure to realize this
point is what causes much of the confusion of many of the critics who
demand a much more cogent argument by Faulkner to support their ethical
view, whether it focuses on Christianity or pacifism. While this
conclusion may seem less palatable for those requiring poetic justice or
established morality in fiction, it is nonetheless testament to the high
degree of sophistication of Faulkner’s world view, a world view shaped
considerably by the sophistication of Bergson’s ideas on morality and
religion, especially as they appear in The Two Sources of Morality and
Religion, to state that all the conflicts emanate from this basic
opposition of intellect and intuition may seem overly simple as an
explanation of the complex action of A Fable. It is simple in that it
admits a resolution or “synthesis” which is less complex than
Schendler’s, since it merely describes a condition instead of forcing
through to an ethic which must “transcend” (i.e., “deny”) the very
ironies the novel spends so much time describing. It is less complex yet
more dynamic than Straumann’s eclectic, suspended, tripartite stasis.
Its focus is also more precise than either of these two admirable
critics allow [32].

The essential opposition of intuition and intellect as a means of
ordering and giving meaning to the human condition penetrates to the
heart of A Fable and encompasses every ramification of the conflicts
which appear upon the surface.

Some clues to the broad intellectual basis and, in a larger sense, to
the whole intellectual environment within which A Fable may be read,
occur in a conversation between Faulkner and a young Frenchman, Loic
Bouvard, at the Princeton Inn on November 30, 1952. Faulkner happened to
be passing through the city, and a mutual friend arranged the interview
for Bouvard, who was studying for his Ph.D. in Political Science at
Princeton. The atmosphere was informal and conducive to candor, but
Bouvard noted that Faulkner was always careful, in fact deliberate, in
answering his questions. The conversation finally became centered upon
Camus and Sartre, when Bouvard informed Faulkner that many of the young
people in France were supplanting a faith in God with a faith in man,
obviously a reference to the atheistic existentialism of these two
writers. Faulkner’s reply is more pertinent than is apparent at first

“Probably you are wrong in doing away with God in that fashion. God is.
It is He who created man. If you don’t reckon with God, you won’t wind
up anywhere. You question God and then you begin to doubt, and you begin
to ask Why? Why? Why? – and God fades away by the very act of your
doubting him”. But he immediately qualified his statement. “Naturally,
I’m not talking about a personified or a mechanical God, but a God who
is the most complete expression of mankind, a God who rests in the
eternity and in the now” [14, p.203].

One is perhaps not surprised that Bouvard was more interested in hearing
Faulkner’s ideas on man and art, since the interview did take place only
after the Nobel Prize acceptance speech, and that speech’s apparent
humanism, plus the vogue at that time of “existentialism”, would
certainly have exercised their influence upon a young French
intellectual. What is surprising is the ease with which Bouvard reduced
Faulkner’s statements about God to “Faulkner’s deism” especially since
Faulkner had immediately made it clear that he meant neither “a
personified or a mechanical God” I shall attempt here to rectify an
error in reaction to which Bouvard, as well as many later critics
mentioned above, fell victim [7].

For what Bouvard thought were separate and distinct categories were much
more closely joined than he realized, were in fact in some ways
practically fused. Here are meant the categories “man” and “god”.
Faulkner, like Bergson, is often speaking about one in terms of the
other (“a god who is the most complete expression of mankind”), but only
within the necessary limits of how they define each category. Faulkner
is not as precise in A Fable as is Bergson in his Two Sources of
Morality and Religion, but the resemblances are there. Faulkner’s
library does not yield a much-thumbed copy of the Two Sources of
Morality and Religion; nevertheless the hypothesis that Bergson’s work
forms the intellectual basis of A Fable remains valid, since no other
works of Bergson are recorded there either, and their availability to
him need not be restricted to Faulkner’s personal library [7,

Simply noting that Faulkner has never been reticent in acknowledging
Bergson’s influence upon him, I shall proceed upon the assumption that
he was aware of Bergson’s ideas on the “vital impetus”, and all the
ramifications there of, even though he may not have come across them
neatly compressed within the covers of the work to which I shall refer.
A comparison of Bergson’s The Two Sources of Morality and Religion with
A Fable will show parallels both in subject matter and language which
suggest more than mere coincidence.

Bergson’s conception of the “dialectic” and Faulkner’s dramatization of
it lie below the “wars” in A Fable and the essential conflict is not New
Testament Christianity against Old Testament orthodoxy, nor Christ
against Caesar, nor the apostolic church against the institutionalized
church, nor war against peace, nor a projected humanism against a
traditional transcendent super-being. It is a simpler yet more profound
opposition which may manifest itself in any of these more apparent
conflicts. Indeed, most of the above-mentioned “conflicts” are not real
conflicts at all, but would fall within one of these two basic
oppositions, the intellect, since most would be subsumed under static

3.2 Allegoric character of the novel

What A Fable “is” seems to be a central question for some critics in
determining its structural features. Thomas H. Carter, for instance,
felt that it was basically cleanly structured, but “the other sub-plots
obscure the simple rightness of the Corporal’s story”. Many see the
essential failure occurring in the attempt to mix genres and tones
which, in their view, it is impossible to mix. Most critics read A Fable
as an allegory which has either been contaminated or enriched in a
dreadful way by certain “realistic” features which clash with the main
action, the Passion whether it is contaminated or enriched is apparently
owing to whether the critic personally prefers the realistic or the
symbolic mode.

One may easily contrast this opinion to that of Hyatt Howe Waggoner, who
sees the novel’s process as “almost the opposite of the symbolic”, one
that emerges from “an interpretation of scripture based on the
supposition that historic Christianity was founded upon a hoax”. Roma
King feels that Faulkner’s view is basically Christian, but that the
book fails because he has “no systematic intellectual grounding or
comprehensive theology”, and the allegory “gets lost among naturalistic
irrelevancies and details”. But for Lawrance Thomson the “allegorical
skeleton sticks through the flesh unpleasantly”. And Irving Howe
considers the book to be “a splendidly written fable that is cluttered
and fretted with structural complexities appropriate only to a novel”.
And finally, we may go to Carter again, who delivers another critical
edict. “Whatever its symbolic structure is A Fable must be judged by the
standards of naturalistic fiction” [9, p. 147-148].

The parallel between the representative of the open society and dynamic
religion, and the inherent antagonism that this new being must project
upon the established institutions, is thus clearly drawn. Another facet
of the “deep dialect” – one which is based on experience – is thus
established and one may draw obvious implications from the parallel,
fusion as it were, of dynamic religion with the open society. The
Corporal is both the representative of the open society and that
individual who has immersed himself in the elan vital, and, as his
confrontation with the priest illustrated, has embodied within himself,
as a “species composed of a single individual”, the power to overcome
the casuistry of dialectic simply by “being”. The Corporal is one who,
in the Bergsonian sense, has immersed himself into “real” time, which
“if it is not God, is of God”, and the “religion” which emerges from
this inundation is one which cannot be defined by ethical laws or
theological argument. It is “a religion of men, not laws” [3, p.187].

One may still reasonably ask why Faulkner had to choose the obvious
parallel to the Gospel stories, why he could not have demonstrated these
ideas on their own merits rather than borrow from the Gospels. Bergson
may again supply us with an explanation. But just as the new moral
aspiration takes shape only by borrowing from the closed society its
natural form, which is obligation, so dynamic religion is propagated
only through images and symbols supplied by the myth-making function. A
careful reading of the novel shows the reasons for the trappings of
Christian allegory in A Fable.

The most striking “supernatural” incident parallels, in a rough way, the
“multiple deaths” of the Corporal, it occurs in the scene describing the
Groom’s return to the town in Tennessee where they had first raced the
horse. He had earlier appeared at the church, but now appears at the
loft above the post office where the men are shooting dice. He suddenly
appears there, no one speaks, he goes to the game, a coin mysteriously
appears at his foot “where 10 seconds ago no coin had been”, he plays
the coin, and immediately wins enough for food. The scene below
describes his exit and return:

“ He went to the trap door and the ladder which led down into the
store’s dark interior and with no light descended and returned with a
wedge of cheese and a handful of crackers, and interrupted the game
again to hand the clerk one of the coins he had won and took his change
and, squatting against the wall and with no sound save the steady one of
his chewing, ate what the valley knew was his first food since he
returned to it, reappeared in the church ten hours ago; and – suddenly –
the first since he had vanished with the horse and the two Negroes ten
months ago” [14, p.194].

The necessary response is a crude one, but it nonetheless resembles the
Corporal’s ability to cut past speech and force action. The Groom’s
mysterious abilities to create the fierce loyalties of those around him
links him to the Corpoml also. It is this ability which carries over
into the main action, and is the means by which he and the Runner are
joined. But in the context of the main action, the Runner is a different
person, a point which will be taken up below. His mysterious qualities
are even highlighted in the near play on words Faulkner employs in
Sutterfield’s pronunciation of his name, “Mistairy” for Mr. Harry. The
Groom is, in a sense, “resurrected” also. His mysterious reappearances
are not the only point of resemblance in this sense. Faulkner describes
him at the very beginning of the “horsethief” episode as having
undergone a sort of rebirth as a result of his experiences with the
horse. The rebirth is somewhat analogous to the Corporal’s final
interment in the tomb of the unknown soldier, since it suggests
outwardly everything that he was not previously, and also points to the
anonymity of the Corporal as far as the world is concerned.

“Three things happened to him which changed completely not only his
life, but his character too, so that when late in 1914 he returned to
England to enlist it was as though somewhere behind the Mississippi
Valley hinterland … a new man had been born, without past, without
griefs, without recollection” [14, p.151].

What Faulkner has done in his treatment of the Corporal is to let the
action around the Corporal speak for him rather than letting him speak
for himself; often the action seems to run a contradictory course to
what is being verbalized by cliaracters around the Corporal. This
observation goes to the heart of the Corporal’s character and the
implications toward which his presence in the novel points. The
Corporal, for all his taciturnity and seeming passivity, is the essence
of action – meaningful action. He is the essence and embodiment of what
Bergson considers the mystic, the representative of “dynamic religion”.
The Corporal, if not exactly suspicious of ritual, at any rate has no
need of ritual, for ritual is extraneous to the dynamic religion he
represents. It is, as Bergson states, “a religion of men, not rules”, a
religion in which “prayer is independent of its verbal expression; it is
an elevation of the soul that can dispense with speech. Bergson, in
attempting to define “dynamic religion”, equates it with mysticism, but
not the Eastern type of mysticism we generally identify with the Hindu
ascetics. These are not true mystics, according to Bergson.

What the Corporal attempts to do, and succeeds in doing for a while, is
exactly this. All the action of A Fable is generated by his act of
mutiny. This failure will be explained within that context, but for the
moment we may see this characteristic, dynamism, operating in relation
to the Corporal in the particular way Faulkner has chosen to portray it.
The Corporal does not have the gift of rhetoric – he has no need of it;
action, experience, is his primary method of expression. His
monosyllabic answers to the casuistic arguments of the priest and the
Marshall are not owing to stupidity or sullenness. An examination of his
answers to most of the questions put to him shows that he does not
answer the question directly so much as simply state a “fact” which
ultimately has bearing upon the question. For example, in answering the
priest’s charges that he must bear the responsibility for Gragnon’s
execution, he simply repeats:

“Tell him [the Marshall] that” [14, p.364-366].

To the Marshall’s long argument in the “Maundy Thursday” scene, he first
answers simply, “there are still ten” (meaning his disciples), when the
Marshall indicates the futility of his martyrdom [14, p.346]. To the
last part of the Marshall’s argument, when the Marshall expands at
length upon the “narrative of the bird” to reinforce his offer of life,
the Corporal simply answers:

“Don’t be afraid. There’s nothing to be afraid of. Nothing worth it”
[14, p.352].

The Corporal is equally taciturn in other scenes. He does not speak his
first word until page 249; he speaks fewer words than any other major
character in the novel, unless one considers the Groom to occupy equal
stature, and even the Groom is referred to as constantly mouthing
curses, even though Faulkner does not record them for the reader.

Actually, the Corporal’s lack of speech is simply part of his makeup. He
is exhibiting the mystic temperament as Bergson conceives of it. A calm
exaltation of all its faculties makes it see things on a vast scale
only, and in spite of its weakness, produce only what can be mightily

This passage, which goes far to explain the Corporal’s peculiar actions
also in relation to the other characters in the novel and the events
which surround him, bears a resemblance to Faulkner’s description of the
Corporal as he calmly watches from his prison window above the rage and
turbulence of the crowd below.

“He looked exactly like a stone-deaf man watching with interest but
neither surprise nor alarm the pantomime of some cataclysm or even
universal uproar which neither threatens nor even concerns him since to
him it makes no sound at all” [14, p.227].

The Corporal is able to transcend much of the human passion that is
normally aroused either in argument or in anxiety over one’s future.
Bergson may offer a reason for the Corporal’s “odd” qualities of
character when he writes of the difference between ordinary ideas of
love and the mystical love of mankind.

The Corporal, as mystical, intuitive man, then, becomes the embodiment
of the open society, which must emerge from the universal love of
mankind, as well as the embodiment of the “dynamic religion” which is
embodied in men, not rules.

It is the Corporal’s “presence” which causes action more than any direct
action he engages in. By this method his effect is felt throughout the
entire novel. He has no personal eloquence, nor radiance, nor energy of
the usual sort associated with action. The key to his effectiveness lies
in his presence. He is dynamic in the deepest sense, not merely kinetic.
He embodies in himself all of the facets and possibilities that the
complex of attitudes arising from and involved in the refinement of the
intuition posit. Just as the Marshall depends upon ritual, meeting,
dialectic, and intelligence, so does the Corporal have no need for any
of them. He is beyond the . neces sary rhetoric of the preacher, the
casuistry of the plotter, or the energy of the builder. He is effective
nonetheless, because his presence alone suffices to cause meaningful
action. As the old man at the ammunition dump, who first informs the
Runner of the Corporal’s mission, tells him:

“- Go and listen to them, the old porter said, – you can speak foreign;
you can understand them.

– I thought you said that the nine who should have spoken French didn’t,
and that the other four couldn’t speak anything at all.

– They don’t need to talk, the old porter said. – You don’ need to
understand. Just go and look at him” [14, p.67].

Events which occur as a result of the Corporal’s “presence” are the
action of A Fable. Although he is not described energetically, the
Corporal embodies dynamism in everything he does, as opposed to the
essentially static character of his antagonist, the Marshall, who
engenders much kinetic activity in the novel. Images of movement and
stasis surround these two antagonists constantly and reinforce their
essential characteristics.

The Corporal and the Marshall are brought together at the beginning of A
Fable in a confrontation scene which foreshadows the later, climactic
“Maundy Thursday” scene above the city of Chaulnesmont. More important
than fore- shadowing is the way in which each is described in relation
to the other in this scene.

“The Corporal is riding in a lorry earring the 13 “ringleaders” of the
mutiny to the stockade. It passes the Hotel de Villa where the three
generals still stood like a posed camera group [the Corporal and the
Marshall] stared full at each other across the moment which could not
last because of the vehicle’s speed – the peasant’s face above the
corporal’s chevrons and the shackled wrists in the speeding lorry, and
the grey, inscrutable face above the stars of supreme rank and the
bright ribbons of honor and glory on the Hotel steps, looking at each
other across the fleeting instant” [14, p.17].

The setting of this first encounter clearly puts the two in opposition
in more than mere foreshadowing; they are immediately seen in terms of
motion and stasis. The “deep dialectic” of the human condition is thus
very early joined, with each antagonist’s essential qualities pointed up
by the setting in which each appears. The Corporal is dynamic, moving,
even though manacled. The Marshall is static, posed, though apparently
free. The two are seen in paradoxical relationship at the very outset,
also, since the apparently “free” omnipotent man, the Marshall, is
fixed; and the apparently shackled man, the Corporal, is moving. This
paradoxical relationship will widen and encompass all of the action of
the novel as it progresses, for paradox is the main method by which
action is resolved in A Fable.

“-Fear implies ignorance. Where ignorance is not, you do not need to
fear: only respect. I don’t fear man’s capacities, I merely respect
them. ”

-And use them, – the Quartermaster General said.

-Beware of them, – the old general said” [14, p.329].

Here is an adequate explanation for the seemingly indifferent mannerisms
of the Corporal. He is not indifferent he has, in a sense, won the world
by going beyond the world. He has attained this state before the opening
action of the novel, and Faulkner’s initial presentation of him, “the
face showing a comprehension, understanding, utterly free of compassion”
[14, p.17] can, in this light, be seen as far more than mere
indifference to his fate.

Events which occur as a result of the Corporal’s “presence” are the
action of A Fable. Although he is not described energetically, the
Corporal embodies dynamism in everything he does, as opposed to the
essentially static character of his antagonist, the Marshall, who
engenders much kinetic activity in the novel. Images of movement and
stasis surround these two antagonists constantly and reinforce their
essential characteristics.

The “capacities” referred to become more precisely defined moments later
when the Quartermaster repeats the charge that the Marshall is afraid of
man. The Marshall’s respon.se is set clearly in terms of stasis and

“I respected him [man] as an articulated creature capable of locomotion
and vulnerable to self-interest” [14, p.331]

Although the Marshall refers here only to the dynamic quality of man,
one must conclude that he is speaking from his opposite viewpoint in
“respecting” this quality in man. The action (locomotion) is referred to
here in potential terms, also. The fact that self-interest is inimical
to the Marshall’s position would coincide neatly with Bergson’s claim
that the intelligence must counter the very bent of intelligence (the
ego) by intellectual means, which the Marshall does.

Another character who resembles the Marshall closely in his intellectual
apparatus and attitudes toward man is the lawyer who seeks, and fails,
to spellbind the crowd with rhetoric (“Ladies, gentlemen Democrats”) in
the courthouse in the “horsethief” episode. The crowd ignores him and as
it brushes past him, he notes “my first mistake was moving” [14, p.185].
Real action is inimical to those who rely on intellect alone and who are
the manipulators in the closed society. The lawyer’s long internal
monologue is couched in slightly different terms, but his views on man
are essentially the same as the Marshall’s.

Thinking (the lawyer) how only when he is mounted on something … is
man vulnerable and familiar; he is terrible; thinking with amazement and
humility and pride too, how no mere immobile mass of him . . . mounted
on something which, not he but it was locomotive, but the mass of him,
moving of itself in one direction toward an objective by means of his
own frail clumsily jointed legs . . . threatful only in locomotion and
dangerous only in silence [14, pp.186-187].

It is important to note here that the lawyer, although contemptuous in
part, still has the feeling of amazement and pride when thinking of this
aspect of man, an attitude which parallels the Marshall’s in the “Maundy
Thursday” scene when he tells the Corporal “with pride” that man will
prevail. The above passage tends to reach back to the introductory scene
where the Corporal is introduced riding in the lorry, and to underscore
the point that, although he is at that time vulnerable to the
machinations of the military, the action which had precipitated all the
later action (the mutiny) had already been accomplished . The Corporal
has been able to set a mass of men in one direction simply through the
power of his presence in better fashion than the military, which had
consciously aimed at this end (witness the statement of l’Allemont, the
corps commander, to Gragnon [14, p.52]) with its references to
disciplinary training and rituals of honor and glory. One may also
compare the actions of the civilian arm of the closed society, the
crowd, in respect to meaningful action. Much has been written of how the
crowd, mass man, is reduced to bestiality or complete passivity, as
though Faulkner were attempting to demean man. As one negative critic
put it, “You do not lift the heart of man by rubbing his face in the
dirt”. But the crowd’s action, which is not really action at ail, can
best be seen in the context of the civil arm of the closed society.

“…not that they had no plan when they came here, nor even that the
motion which had served in lieu of plan, had been motion only so long as
it had had room to move in, but that motion itself had betrayed them by
bringing them here at all, not only in the measure of the time it had
taken them to cover the kilometer and a half between the city and the
compound, but in that of the time it would take them to retrace back to
the city and the Place de Ville , which they comprehended now they
should never have quitted in the first place, so that, no matter what
speed they might make getting back to it, they would be too late” [14,

Allegory, to function as allegory, as H. R. Warfel has demonstrated,
must function on at least three of four possible levels. The story must
be a literal story; it must establish parallel relationships between it
and the original story upon which it is based (if it is based on a
story); it must establish parallel relationships between it and the
institution which lies behind the original story; and it must establish
a final universal or metaphysical level on which it may be read. I
believe that analogical qualities in A Fable which resemble the Passion
work primarily on the first and second level, but that it denies much of
the third level which is necessary for allegory.

A Fable denies the institution, both in the action that is outside those
parts which resemble the Passion directly, and, more importantly, by
internal differences between those portions that do parallel the
original Gospel stories, owing mainly to its treatment of those
portions. In fact, the very parts that seem to offend most of the
critics, the character of the Corporal, the “degrading” last supper
scene, the barbed wire crown, the ironic resurrection, the final
interment in the military monument and certain aspects of “character” of
the Corporal, find their ethical and “theological” perspective, not in
the codifications of institutionalized Christianity, which in A Fable is
equated with “static religion”, but in “dynamic religion” as Bergson
describes it. And therefore, A Fable is not a true allegory if one sees
the Passion story in the sense that an allegory is supposed to bring us
into contact with the ethical and moral teachings of an institution in
order to further its teachings. In relation to the Passion one may say
that A Fable merely utilizes a profound and meaningful story as
background to add force to its own meanings.

3.3 Christian symbolism in A Fable

A Fable has aroused many unfavorable comments and only three searching
attempts at an interpretation. None of the commentators saw a totally
unified structure and consequently the meaning of the book has not been
clarified by them. The title and the decorative symbol of the Cross have
led most critics to stray into paths which Faulkner really did not
enter. The novel is not a fable in the technical sense of that narrative
form; rather it is a story, probably meant by the author to be as
meaningful as any of Aesop’s writings, but equally probably not to be as
simple in outline or depth. One of the chronological frames through
which the story progresses is indeed Holy week, but only in a limited
degree does the sequence of events relate to the final events in the
earthly life of Jesus [21].

A sounder critic, Ursula Brumm, noted that A Fable was constructed
around slightly different antitheses. The division between the meek of
the earth and the rapacious but creative ones “who participate in the
works of civilization” forms the essential conflict in the novel. Miss
Brumm cites the long apostrophe to rapacity by the Quartermaster [8] as
the focal point of A Fable and maintains that this passage, which is a
parody of Paul’s message on “charity” in Corinthians 13:8, may be seen
as the final indictment of civilization and all its works.

Faulkner, by equating Christianity with Civilization, has written a
novel that is absolute heresy in Christian terms. The Corporal is the
son of God or the founder of Christianity, but Christ the archetype of
man suffering, and of those who expiate the guilt of civilization by
renunciation of the power and the privilege.

Another thoughtful early criticism is Philip Blair Rice’s review. Rice
offers provocative and penetrating insights into the novel which
unfortunately lead to the usual cul de sac rather than to a unified
vision, because he seeks that vision using the wrong index to meaning.
Rice, seeing A Fable as the most monumental task Faulkner had yet
assumed, responded to it in like manner. It demands he states “a
comparison with such awesomely mentionable names as Melville, Tolstoy,
Dostoevsky, and Mann”. A Fable does not live up to expectations for
Rice, and fails to even render its explicit message, which to him is
that message contained in the Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Rice
believes, as do most of the critics cited above, that Faulkner’s failure
is essentially an intellectual failure. He has failed to offer a
coherent theology which to Rice is the implicit message of A Fable.
Rice’s real problem with A Fable is the apparent ambiguity of the
“theological” elements. This basic ambiguity is what engenders his
criticism of the novel, and he directs his criticism toward theological
rather than artistic considerations. For Rice, Faulkner’s religious
commitment is vague, not orthodox, most likely “a non super naturalistic
rendering of the Christian symbolism” which offers “no theodicy and no
other-worldly beatitude”. What shocks Rice is that the words of the
Nobel Prize acceptance speech “Man will prevail” are uttered by the
Marshall instead of the Corporal. To Rice this assignment is a
“breathtaking reversal”, since the Marshall must be a figure of evil
(Caesar or Satan) according to the reading Rice imposes on the novel. He
notes also that the Corporal’s entombment in the monument of the Unknown
Soldier, although a sort of victory, is too heavily ironic to constitute
a real victory for primitive Christianity, since the monument also
glorifies nationalism. These and other inconsistencies lead Rice to the
conclusion that three thematic resolutions of the implicit message of A
Fable lie open to the reader [40].

3.4 The figure of Christ in the novel

The limited vision of critics appears to parallel those who demanded
that the Corporal correspond to certain attributes they held to be
necessary in portraying a “Christ-figure”. Their preconceptions were
focused on characterization while the above named critics demand certain
formal structural characteristics to be present (i.e., a fable should be
allegorical and symbolic, a novel should be realistic and naturalistic),
yet both groups resemble each other in their propensity to proscribe
certain practices rather than analyze what these practices might attempt
to accomplish in a given work.

One might well wonder, in the light of the conditions the “crucifixion”
imposed upon the Runner, just what attitude he could assume in order to
“prevail” in a manner pleasing to Mr. Stavrou, since to do other than
what Faulkner has done would obviously be to falsify what the experience
of history has taught us (i.e., the mutiny did not end the war – in fact
the war itself did not end wars, nor have the ideals of Christianity
prevailed or the crucifixion itself, even though much of the world is

One may make point in reference to the use of the Gospel stories. A
Fable does not clearly offer an allegorical presentation of the Passion.
Allegory does not generally make specific references to the institution
behind the action represented, but allows the parallels to make the
connection. Were this simply a modern allegory of the Passion, the
obvious parallels of action would certainly have been sufficient to draw
the resemblance, but Faulkner goes much beyond this. There are many
references to the original Christ throughout the novel. The Runner
states at one point, in his usual ironic fashion, that the Corporal’s
job is more difficult than Christ’s was.

“His prototype had only man’s natural propensity for evil to con tend
with: this one faces all the scarlet and brazen impregnability of
general staffs” [34, p. 56].

The old porter in admonishing the Runner to go and see the mysterious 13
men who preach pacifism tells him:

“-Just go and look at him.

-Him? – the Runner said. -So it’s just one now?

-Wasn’t it just one before? – the old porter said” [14, p.67].

The priest, after having warned the Corporal to “beware whom you mock by
reading your own mortal’s pride into Him” [14, p.363] reflects before
his suicide upon the mercy of Christ.

“He was nailed there and he will forgive me” [14, p.370]. Even during
the “last supper” scene one of the Corporal’s men refers to Christ,
“Christ assoil us” [14, p.337], punning on the word, since the prisoners
are talking about their becoming manure to enrich the soil of France.

One can hardly be confused as to the Corporal’s role within the frame of
an allegory. He clearly is not Christ. Whatever symbolic reflections
accrue to him by the actions he imitates is something else again. If the
novel is read as an account of the Second Coming, the problem arises of
explaining other relationships, such as the connection between the
Corporal and the Marshall. One might also easily concede that if A Fable
is a novel about the Second Coming of Christ, one hardly needs to employ
all of the cumbersome machinery of the combined Gospel stories, plus the
whole framework of the war. But in A Fable Faulkner has obviously gone
out of his way to evoke similar patterns, even to the extent of wrapping
a barbed wire crown of thorns around the Corporal’s head and other such
“excesses” of similarity.

Another point to consider is why the Second Coming, if it is that,
should be destined to end so far below the first, especially after its
author had made a speech in Stockholm four years earlier which was
practically a testament to man. Certainly one must concede to Faulkner
that lie was aware of the differences as well as the resemblances
between his novel and the Passion story.

If we consider that the resemblance, even a close and obvious
resemblance, between a new work and one which has already become
established as a key, or even the core structure of an institution (be
it a religious or national or whatever institution) – does not of itself
demand that the new work under consideration adhere to the ethical,
moral, or metaphysical beliefs of the institution which the original
focused upon; our critical perspective need not be hamstrung by these
considerations. Allegory, to function as allegory must function on at
least three of four possible levels. The story must be a literal story;
it must establish parallel relationships between it and the original
story upon which it is based (if it is based on a story); it must
establish parallel relationships between it and the institution which
lies behind the original story; and it must establish a final universal
or metaphysical level on which it may be read [11].

A Fable denies the institution, both in the action that is outside those
parts which resemble the Passion directly, and, more importantly, by
internal differences between those portions that do parallel the
original Gospel stories, owing mainly to its treatment of those
portions. In fact, the very parts that seem to offend most of the
critics, the character of the Corporal, the “degrading” last supper
scene, the barbed wire crown, the ironic resurrection, the final
interment in the military monument and certain aspects of “character” of
the Corporal, find their ethical and “theological” perspective, not in
the codifications of institutionalized Christianity, which in A Fable is
equated with “static religion”, but in “dynamic religion” as Bergson
describes it. And therefore, A Fable is not a true allegory if one sees
the Passion story in the sense that an allegory is supposed to bring us
into contact with the ethical and moral teachings of an institution in
order to further its teachings. In relation to the Passion one may say
that A Fable merely utilizes a profound and meaningful story as
background to add force to its own meanings.

The parallels between certain obvious incidents in A Fable and the
Gospels, insofar as the purely imitative qualities go, may be read
simply as part of the complex symbolic extension of the static religion
of the closed society, much the same as the war is the symbolic
extension of the military, and the city of civilized man. The
allegorical trappings are simply part of the agglomeration of myth
surrounding the institution, and the resemblance of the Corporal to the
historical Christ is simply another manifestation of the mythmaking
function of the intelligence. This action is obviously “earthed”. But
the reduction of much of the agony of Christ to the mute, impassivity of
the Corporal, the grotesqueries of the barbed wire crown, the
irreverence and scatology in the last s upper scene, the ironic
resurrection, point to something beyond a mere retelling of the original
story [11, p.67-83].

This impetus is thus carried forward through the medium of certain men,
each of whom thereby constitutes a species composed of a single
individual. If the individual is fully conscious of this, if the fringe
of intuition surrounding his intelligence is capable of expanding
sufficiently to envelope its object, that is the mystic life. The
dynamic religion which thus springs into being is the very opposite of
the static religion born of the myth-making function, in the same way
the open society is the opposite of the closed society.

The Corporal can’t be supposed to be both a soldier and a pacifist. It’s
impossible to believe in the palpable reality of the Corporal when
everyone is conscious that he is Christ. The Corporal’s “palpable
reality” is a strange one – he is essentially a mystic. Both Fiedler and
Malin, like the other dissenting critics, offer a view which is tempered
by their preconceptions of what a “Christ figure” ought to be, and they
take umbrage at obvious deviations from the “norm” of presentations. A
Christ figure may embody paradoxes, but the contradictions the Corporal
presents are seemingly irresolvable ones. Humble, pleasant, meek, and
mild, or even robust, he may be, but surly he must not be. The Corporal
is obviously more in accord with the last two attributes than he is in
accord with the first group – at least this is the way it appears on the
surface, but Faulkner has used a rather singular method of presenting
the Corporal [11, p.69-80].

The priest, after having warned the Corporal to “Beware whom you mock by
reading your own mortal’s pride into Him” [14, p.363] reflects before
his suicide upon the mercy of Christ.

“He was nailed there and he will forgive me” [14, p.370].

Even during the “last supper” scene one of the Corporal’s men refers to
Christ, “Christ assoil us” [14, p.337], punning on the word, since the
prisoners are talking about their becoming manure to enrich the soil of

One can hardly be confused as to the Corporal’s role within the frame of
an allegory. He clearly is not Christ. Whatever symbolic reflections
accrue to him by the actions he imitates is something else again. If the
novel is read as an account of the Second Coming, the problem arises of
explaining other relationships, such as the connection between the
Corporal and the Marshall. One might also easily concede that if A Fable
is a novel about the Second Coming of Christ, one hardly needs to employ
all of the cumbersome machinery of the combined Gospel stories, plus the
whole framework of the war. Novelists who depict modern parallels to the
Passion generally avoid following the lockstep pattern of imitation, and
Faulkner himself is no exception to this rule in his previous novels.
Carvel Collins points with pride to his being the first to discover the
use of elements of the Passion in The Sound and the Fury.

A more reasonable explanation of the use of the Gospel stories is that
Faulkner used them in relation to certain artistic and philosophical
considerations which he must have been well aware of, and that he felt
free to use them strictly in accordance with his art rather than
subjecting them to strict religious dicta. That the Passion is the most
profound story in our immediate culture few would deny; but that all
treatments of any part of it must reflect, or at least simply, in that
part the whole range of theological or ethical considerations
surrounding the Passion is not necessarily valid literary criticism.
This idea is what most of those who object to Faulkner’s usage
ultimately fall back on, although their objections are not stated so
baldly as this. The Corporal’s “Christianity” offends them because it
does not in some way “measure up” to what Christianity means to them.
Especially offensive are the ironic scenes and the final interment of
the Corporal in the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

These critics use as their focal point orthodox doctrinal or theological
considerations. But Faulkner’s focus need not even be on Christianity as
such. If we consider that the mere resemblance – even a close and
obvious resemblance, between a new work and one which has already become
established as a key, or even the core structure of an institution (be
it a religious or national or whatever institution) – does not of itself
demand that the new work under consideration adhere to the ethical,
moral, or metaphysical beliefs of the institution which the original
focused upon; our critical perspective need not be hamstrung by these

If religion is the expression of the myth making function which offers
“counterfeit experiences” to allay the impulse of intelligence toward a
possibly egotistical path inimical to society, the insistence in A Fable
upon the experience of the acts as true human experience more than
mythical experience, the delineation of the Corporal as a concrete
contrast to the “counterfeit” experiences of the Gospels, stands out as
“fact”. In this context, the Corporal’s earthbound, “real” qualities,
such as his apparent lack of “spirituality” as we expect to see it
manifested in human beings, becomes more reasonable and need not vitiate
our conception of a unique individual who compels love and action,
Bergson, in a rather lengthy state, which relates the two types of
religions to the morality which they assert, is specific upon these
points, and his explanation may serve to clarify the treatment of the
Corporal and A Fable.

PART VI. Methodological reccomendations FOR TEACHING W. FAULKNER’S

William Faulkner’s creative writing is rather known for the readers, it
is studied at universities as regards its style, plots and ideas.
Faulkner’s creative activity is very interesting also because of parable
thinking represented in his writings. That’s why we think it’s important
to study Faulkner’s creative activities during World literature seminars
stressing on parable questions, reading, discussions and debates.

Several novels and short stories written by William Faulkner can be
included in high school reading lists and if taught would enhance
student experiences of American literature. Malcolm Cowley in his
classic introduction to The Portable Faulkner said, “Faulkner’s novels
have the quality of being lived, absorbed, remembered rather than merely
observed. And they have what is rare in the novels of our time, a warmth
of family affection, brother for brother and sister, the father for his
children – a love so warm and proud that it tries to shut out the rest
of the world” [11]. It is difficult to imagine someone reading the final
scenes of “A Fable” and not being moved by the fate of the Corporal.

In Faulkner’s literature, he has used themes of a depth and magnitude
seldom seen in other American writers. His experimentation with style,
especially stream of consciousness, places him in a class of his own.

His greatness lies in the development of a body of characters which
surely rivals those created by Shakespeare and Dickens. And it is this
masterful body of characterization to which high school students should
be exposed if they are to truly understand the human spirit as it is
embodied in the study of American literature.

In this part we suggest several types of activities. They may be useful
for the students to understand the novel better during the seminars.

So, the following activities could be suggested:

1. LEAD-IN activitY

2. vocabulary work

3. Reading comprehension activites

4. discussions

5. debates

1. LEAD-IN activitY

The teacher asks the students a set of questions connected with World
War I to prepare them for further observations and discussions. The
questions are:

· What do you know about World War I

· When did it start When did it finish

· What countries took part in the First World War

· How did people feel at the front

· How did they feel when they returned

Possible answers:

1. World War I was started by the people in power who wanted to
rearrange the spheres of their influence and acquire new sources of

2. At the front people usually began to realize the true nature of that
event. The idea of their being used as an instrument of conducting a war
came to their minds.

3. When people returned form the war they saw that nobody cared either
about them or about what they had done at the front.


The following activities are suggested:

I. Please find these phrases in the sentences in one of the chapters and
explain them in your own words:

· to peer across at something

· to be nailed

· to lay aground

· to squat against the wall

· futility of one’s martyrdom

· gaudy as a child’s toy

· to heap up

· to flick

· gaped faces

· to assoil smb.

· grieving sky

II. Here are some sentences from the text. Please explain what the words
in the bold types mean:

1. “You mock by reading your own mortal’s pride into Him?(p.363)

2. “He was nailed there and he will forgive me.” (p.370)

3. “Go on I” the rest of the cortege huddling without order, protocol
vanished for the moment too as they hurried after the caisson almost
with an air of pell mell, as though in actual flight from the wreckage
of the disaster? (p.436)

4. “It passes the Hotel de Villa where the three generals still stood
like a posed camera group stared full at each other across the moment
which could not last because of the vehicle’s speed – the peasant’s face
above the corporal’s chevrons and the shackled wrists in the speeding
lorry, and the grey, inscrutable face above the stars of supreme rank
and the bright ribbons of honor and glory on the Hotel steps, looking at
each other across the fleeting instant.” (p.17)

5. “His face was showing a comprehension, understanding, utterly free of
compassion.” ( p.17)

6. “It had merely arrested itself; not the men engaged in it, but the
war itself. War, impervious and even inattentive to the anguish, the
torn flesh, the whole petty surge and resurge of victories and defeats?
(pp. 124, 125)

7. “There is an immorality, an outrageous immorality; you are not even
contemptuous of glory; you are simply not interested in it.” (p.305)

III. Please translate these sentences into English:

1. Командир дивізії завжди спостерігав за атаками з найближчого
спостережного пункту; це було його правилом і сприяло його репутації.

2. У той вівторок опівночі двоє англійських солдат розташувалися на
стрілецькій сходинці одного з окопів під руїнами Бетюна.

3. Спали вони на кам’яній підлозі у коридорі; сніданком їх нагодували ще
до підйому.

4. Всі розійшлися, він продовжував сидіти, днювальні закінчили
прибирання, потім під’їхав автомобіль, але зупинився не біля їдальні, а
біля канцелярії, крізь тонку перегородку він почув, як туди увійшли
люди, потім голоси…

5. Залишаючи свої домівки, вони майже нічого не знали, всі вони були
зірвані з місця тим же жахом…

6. Натовп, здавалося, не міг розгледіти або помітити вантажівки.

7. Вирішувати було вже пізно; щоб не опинитися розтоптаним, він у
натовпі пліч-о-пліч з полоненим рухався через площу до будівлі суду…

3. Reading comprehension activitY

Attention check. Please answer the following questions on the text:

· What time is depicted in the novel?

· In what country does the action take place?

· Who is the Corporal?

· What have you learnt about the Marshall?

· Pick out the lines, describing the relations between the Corporal and
the Marshall.

· What was Marthe’s another name?

· What difference can you see between the Corporal and the Groom

· Describe the funeral scene.

4. discussion

I. The following questions and statements are suggested:

ь Account of the usage of the religious terms in the novel. Give the
examples of it providing your reasons for its usage.

ь Pick up statements which show the Marshall’s attitude towards the
Corporal. Give the reasons for your choice.

ь Why the novel is called “A Fable”?

II. Discuss the following phrases from the novel. What can they mean?
Explain in your own words.

1. Fear implies ignorance. (p.17)

2. They had no plan: only motion. (p.130)

3. Beware whom you mock by reading your own mortal’s pride into Him…

4. He was nailed there and he will forgive me. (p. 370)

5. The small perpetual flame burned above the eternal sleep of the
nameless bones brought down five years ago from the Verdun battlefield.

5. debates

The sudents are divided into two or three groups, each of which is given
a subject for debate: two of these groups are direct opposite of each
other, and a third – should give a compromise. Some examples are as

a) If you want to make a good thing you can use every stick in the book.

Good thing can be done only by good deeds.

b) If a person has faith in something, he will definitely make his dream
come true.

The sound mind is more important than the faith.

c) Sometimes thinking that we are doing good, we ruin everything.

Sometimes it is necessary to ruin something, in order to build something

Each group has to work out and write down all possible arguments in
favour of its subject, including defenses against the points that might
be brought up by the opposition. It also has to work out the
presentation of the material.

A time limits should be set for preparations – from 10 to 15 minutes.
Formalities of the procedure are outlined by the teacher before the
debate begins. The points to be included are the following:

· what the speaker does;

· how participants show what they want to say;

· how long their speeches are, etc.

Then the full debate follows. The final voting is ”genuine”. The
announcement of the results of the vote is the end of the activity.

Teachers who teach Faulkner and who are contemplating teaching his
fiction advise us such teaching guides as “A Reader’s Guide to William
Faulkner” (1964), “Reading Faulkner’s Best Short Stories” (1999), “The
Cambridge Companion to William Faulkner” (1995), “Approaches to Teaching
Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury” (1996), “A William Faulkner
Encyclopedia” (1999), and “Teaching Faulkner” (2001) [11].

The methods of teaching literature in today’s high school and the issues
which are at the center of that teaching have changed since the death of
Faulkner in 1962. Teachers are examining new and exciting ways to engage
students in the study of a complicated writer such as Faulkner. These
guides are written in a clear, accessible, and scholarly style by some
of the most important critics of Faulkner today. They enable teachers to
better understand the complexities of Faulkner’s writing style, his
realistic subject matter, and his perception of the decline of the Old
South and the rise of the New.


The research conducted leads us to the following conclusions:

1. There is a close connection between the life and creative activities
of William Faulkner. Throughout his entire life the famous American
writer devoted a great deal of time to literature. Moreover, writing
became Faulkner’s greatest passion, beside which nothing else mattered.
Almost all the events of his life were reflected in his writings. There
are some defined moments which influenced him deeply and were reflected
in his works. When a young man Faulkner demonstrated artistic talent,
writing poetry. His earliest literary efforts were romantic,
conscientiously modeled on English poets such as Burns, Thomson,
Housman, and Swinburne, his first daughter’s death, the Nobel Prize etc.

2. During our research we singled out the main features of parables:

ь The parable allows deep communication between the narrator and the
reader. It begins “benignly”, disarming readers, drawing them in, and
encouraging them to compare the story to their own experiences. The
readers identify with a certain character and encounter dilemmas that
call for choices. At this point the readers move more deeply into self

ь The parable involves indirect communication that provokes self
discovery. Whereas direct communication creates observers and listeners,
indirect communication creates participants and action.

ь Experiences with indirect communication cultivate the capability for
developing the self. Rather than a change in information there is a
change in consciousness.

ь The situations described in the parable can be applied in real life.

ь An action has a parable character only when it is said in it: act like

The research proved the existence of the parable thinking in Faulkner’s
novel A Fable:

· The absence of the story-teller, Faulkner’s narrative and ethical
position, his point of view concerning all the events which occur in the
novel. Faulkner only represents the events and the feelings of the
heroes without giving any comments from his side, so the reader has to
build the conclusions, associative comparisons and guesses himself

· A Fable is a fable without a strict moral – it is more descriptive
than prescriptive. It is essentially a description of two opposing sets
of moralities shown in their complex interactions both ideally and

· The main hero of the novel the Corporal is put in a scale, valid
situation of an ethical choice which has basic, major importance. This
situation is also one of organic laws of a parable.

· All the events in the novel occur in the limited place of the
imaginary reality which serves as a laboratory platform on which the
plot of the novel develops.

· All the events in the novel are shown through a prism of perception of
the world by the main hero. So everything which doesn’t enter in his
field of view and consciousness is entirely absent in the novel.

· The source of the novel is the story about Christ. The plot of the
novel revolves around a reincarnation of Christ during the First World

· In the novel there constantly can be seen a difficult struggle between
an angel and a devil, light and darkness, beauty and ugliness, good and
bad, passion and indifference, cleanliness and sinfulness of a person.

Thus, we considered Faulkner’s life and its connection with his creative
activities, highlighted the main features of parable, its peculiarities
and the differences between parable and novel, singled out the parable
thinking in “A Fable”.

Our research contributed to more profound understanding of the novel
that firstly was even rejected as art. It’s impossible not to see vast
scope, its wide compass in the process of their analysis. And in spite
of this disregard the novel became an integral part of the World
literature of the XX century.


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