William Faulkner
William Faulkner


William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi in 1897, but grew up in Oxford. He began writing poetry when he was thirteen. He dropped out of school before graduating high school. He was a pilot in World War 1, but saw no combat. After the war, he studied literature at the University of Mississippi, where he drew cartoon and wrote poems for the school's newspaper. He worked for a New York bookstore for a limited period of time, but spent most of his time writing on a farm in Oxford.He won a Nobel Prize for Literature and donated part of it to establish a fund to encourage new fiction writers. He won two Pulitzer prizes in 1954 for A Fable and in 1962 for The Reivers. He worked at the University of Mississippi's bookstore, but was firing for reading while working. Faulkner also worked as a "Writer-in-Residence" at the University of Virginia from 1957 until he died. He was 64 years old.


William Faulkner focuses on moral issues such as sexism, racism, and social classes. Some of Faulkner’s stories also discuss dealing with death or some other sort of loss. Faulkner expresses his themes through a historical view, mainly focusing on the historical issues of the South. This setting allows his themes to develop into the serious issues Faulkner addresses in his works. The theme of racism can be seen in stories such as “The Unvanquished,” “Go Down Moses,” “Barn Burning,” “A Rose for Emily,” and Absalom Absalom. The issues of sexism and class issues are faced in “A Rose for Emily,” and “Barn Burning.” Faulkner analyzes the issue of death and loss in “A Rose for Emily,” and “The Sound and The Fury.” The one book that does not follow Faulkner’s normal themes is “As I Lay Dying.” This book focuses on issues such as identity and existence. All of Faulkner’s stories focus on some aspect of morality. (www.sparknotes.com)


Throughout Faulkner’s 64 years of life he wrote many novels, short stories and essays. Below is a summary of some of his work.

Soldier’s Pay is Faulkner’s first novel, published in 1926. The story takes place just after the end of World War I. The main character, Donald Mahon returns to his hometown of Charleston, Georgia after suffering horrible injuries in the war. The story follows Donald’s slowly deteriorating condition as he meets new companions and reunites with his former fiancé, his father, and other members of his town.

“A Rose for Emily” is one of Faulkner’s well known short stories. Ms. Emily has spent her life living in seclusion and as a result, her death in mystery. Due to her secluded nature, she had attracted the attention of the townspeople to her unknown house and unknown life. Upon exploring Ms. Emily’s house, the town discovers the dust, lifestyle and secrets of Ms. Emily’s life, some of which may still be lurking in the house.

Sanctuary, one of Faulkner’s many novels, was published on February 9, 1931. It is his most sensational novel and appeals to his readers. It is “a twisted tail of prostitutes, lawyers, families, lusts, and betrayal." The plot increases as the story goes on and in the end the lawyer knows that the wrong person is in jail. Instead of confessing, he keeps quit in fear that the killer will kill him too.

One of Faulkner’s short stories that was published in Go Down, Moses was “Pantaloon in Black”. This short story was about Rider, a lumber mill worker that happened to be African American that is weeping over the death of his wife. He cannot find any remedies for this grief and he ends up playing a crooked dice game. Here, he kills Birdsong, the operator of the game. He does this because he knows it will cause him to be lynched. Rider’s suicidal action was misinterpreted as he went crazy. Racism plays a part in the law system of the story; the sheriff regards black people and Rider as "niggers with no feelings."