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The Ecological Vision in William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses

  • Cross-Cultural Studies
  • 2023, 70(), pp.35-63
  • DOI : 10.21049/ccs.2023.70..35
  • Publisher : Center for Cross Culture Studies
  • Research Area : Humanities > Literature
  • Received : September 2, 2023
  • Accepted : October 11, 2023
  • Published : October 31, 2023

Mijeong Kim 1

1경상국립대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Against the backdrop of environmental degradation in the United States in the early twentieth century, William Faulkner fundamentally distrusted the ideology of progress that whites had transplanted to the “New World” of the United States, and diagnosed greed and rapacity as being peculiarly American. In particular, he saw destruction of the American Giant Forest and extermination of indigenous cultures as products of the modern white civilization’s desire to conquer, own, and dominate, which was closely linked to land ownership and slavery. This paper explores and suggests ways of practicing an ‘ecological vision’ through Go Down, Moses that strongly reflects Faulkner’s contemporary concerns and ecological interests. It shows how ecological insights lead to a critique of self-destructive relationships and a shift towards ‘coexistence and co-prosperity’ based on ethical responsibility. In particular, this paper focuses on three stories from the novel, which consists of seven stories, to examine how ecological ways of thinking and being are linked not only to relationships between members of the contemporary society, but also to the ethical responsibilities towards future generations. In “The Bear”, the protagonist’s development into an ecological figure is examined; in “Delta Autumn”, the catastrophic consequences of the protagonist’s avoidance and neglect of ethical responsibility are discussed; and in “Go Down, Moses”, the novel’s open ending is interpreted to discuss the responsibility of the present generation for future generations and the future possibilities of ‘coexistence and mutual growth’ for a better society. This study reveals Faulkner’s timeless ecological themes that resonate with readers’ understanding of nature, ethics, and the human journey.

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