Parable thinking in W. Faulner's novel "A fable"

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





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 café 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 [42].

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, p.14-15].

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 Théâtre 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” [22].

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 Rómulo 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 Letters.

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 meaning.

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 undecidability.

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 time.

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 analogy.

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 "παραβολή" (parabolē), 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 Jülicher, regard these interpretations as inappropriate and untenable. Jülicher 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 so.

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 examination.

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 tradition.

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 clichés” [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 [7].

“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, p.208-239].

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 religion.

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 wrought.

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 is set clearly in terms of stasis and dynamism.

“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, p.131].

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 Christian).

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 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. 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 considerations.

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.


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 money.

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:

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

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

ü  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… (p.363)

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. (p.434)

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 follows:

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 new.

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:

ü  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 examination.

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

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

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

ü  An action has a parable character only when it is said in it: act like this.

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 independently.

· 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 historically.

· 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 War.

· 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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