Another important aspect of social reality in the novel is womanhood. In the world, where the line of demarcation is drawn between the weakness and strength, women fight a losing battle. Patriarchal community, which has control over every aspect of the lives of its citizens, does not tolerate any derogation from social norms, which are strictly assigned. Because women are guardians and victims of the community, they are trapped in a vicious circle of social taboos. The precise division between "good" and "bad" women causes that the former are the guardians of the latter. Because the only area where they can demonstrate their power is the control of other women's moral behaviour, they truly dedicate themselves to it and do not care about the effects of their actions because: „[…] the town believed that the ladies knew the truth, since it believed that bad women can be fooled by badness, since they have to spend some of their time not being suspicious. But that no good woman can be fooled by it because, by being good herself, she does not need to worry anymore about hers, or anybody else’s goodness; hence she has plenty of time to smell out sin.50
The life of Hightower's wife shows that system at work. First she is hounded by people who send her to an institution, after that she is "taught" how to behave and dress, next, when it becomes clear that she is not going to follow social norms, women exclude her from their circle. Finally, she commits suicide because it is the only way to escape. A paradox lies in the fact that it is her husband who should be sent to a sanatorium as his behaviour is unusual, and his wife is obviously a victim of his eccentricity.
The whole situation is pictured in the Light in August from the point of view of the whole community:
In the fall the wife came home. She looked better. She had put on a little flesh. She had changed more than that, even. Perhaps it was that she seemed chastened now; awake, anyway. Anyhow she was now like the ladies had wanted her to be all the time, as they believed that the minister’s wife should be. She attended church and prayer meeting regularly, and the ladies called upon her and she called upon them, sitting quiet and humble, even in her own house, while they told her how to run it and what to wear and what to make her husband eat. It might even be said that they forgave her. No crime or transgression had been actually named and no penance had been actually set. But the town did not believe that the ladies had forgot those previous mysterious trips, with Memphis as their destination [...] So nobody saw her when she got on the train that Friday, or maybe it was Saturday, the day itself. It was Sunday morning’s paper which they saw, telling how she had jumped or fallen from a hotel window in Memphis Saturday night, and was dead.51
Women accepted in Faulkner’s world are weak and follow rules. Christmas' grandmother allows giving him to an orphanage and has been suffering for the rest of her life. McEchern's wife doesn't even try to stand up for her stepson when her husband bullies him. Bobby, the prostitute, allows Christmas to beat her just to unload his frustrations, and all of this fit to the social convention. However, Lena Grove, who breaks the principle of morality, is accepted by other women, because her journey in search of Bruch is an attempt to remedy the "evil". Her naiveté can be illustrated with her words: “I reckon a family ought to all be together when a chap comes. Specially the first one. I reckon the Lord will see to that.” 52Everyone is well aware of her naiveté but at the same time it is her simplicity and candor which provides the protection and help of others. Lena is weak and harmed and as such, deserves support and help.
Women, who break rules, always bear the penalty of their behaviour: Joanna Burden is killed by Christmas, who cuts off her head; Christmas's mother dies giving birth to her son, because her father doesn’t call a doctor; Hightower's wife, haunted by the community, commits suicide.
The world of men portrayed in the novel is violent and aggressive. Violence is also a personal choice of the protagonist, as he follows the rules of the world where he was brought up. Christmas repulses femininity and blackness because they are associated with weakness and slavery. Christmas’ hatred of women is also caused by the fact that he is always betrayed by them (Bobbie, Miss Atkins); they have never fought for him (his grandmother, Mrs McEachern) and always reject him if his presence could endanger them directly (Miss Atkins, Bobbie). His hate manifests itself in different ways:
While still a youth, each week he takes from the wash fis garments on which his foster-mother solicitously has replaced missing buttons and he cuts off the new buttons ‘with the cold and bloodless deliberation of a surgeon’. At the age of seven he dumps on the floor food which his foster-mother brings him; and many years later, at thirty-three, he repeats the same gesture of repudiation, hurling against a wall dishes of food prepared for him by Joanna Burden. Whilst fourteen he attacks black prostitute, hired by him and his friends.53
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