Teaching Students About The Summary of the Novel, Light in August

As a K-12 educator, one of the literary works that you might teach your students is William Faulkner’s Light in August. This novel tells the story of a young woman named Lena Grove, who travels to Jefferson, Mississippi, in search of the father of her unborn child. While there, she meets several other characters, including Joe Christmas, a man who is haunted by the fact that he may have African American heritage despite passing as white.

To help your students understand the themes and content of this novel, it’s important to teach them about the summary of Light in August. Here are some key points you might cover:


Light in August is set in the American South during the 1930s. The novel explores the racism, poverty, and violence that were prevalent in this time and place.


Lena Grove is the protagonist of the novel. She’s a determined and optimistic young woman who is on a mission to find her baby’s father. Joe Christmas is a complex and troubled character who grapples with his racial identity and past traumas.


Light in August explores themes such as racism, identity, gender roles, and the search for meaning. Your students may benefit from discussing how these themes are developed through the characters’ experiences and interactions.

Style and structure

Faulkner’s prose style is known for its complexity and experimentation. In Light in August, he uses multiple narrators and shifts in time to tell the story. You might help your students analyze the effects of these stylistic choices on their understanding of the novel.

By teaching your students about the summary of Light in August, you can help them engage with this challenging and thought-provoking work. Encourage them to consider how the novel speaks to themes that are still relevant today, and to think critically about the importance of storytelling in understanding ourselves and the world around us.

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