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Light in August | Study Guide

William Faulkner

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Course Hero. "Light in August Study Guide." Course Hero. 7 Apr. 2018. Web. 2 June 2023. <>.

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Light in August | Chapter 1 | Summary



Lena Grove is walking from Alabama in search of Lucas Burch, the father of her unborn child. In Mississippi she comes across Armstid, who offers her a ride in his wagon and ultimately invites her to rest at his house for the night. His wife breaks out her "egg money" and gives the money to her husband to give Lena. In the morning Mrs. Armstid cooks breakfast and leaves it out for Lena and Armstid, but does not speak to the unwed pregnant woman again. Armstid takes Lena to Varner's store where Varner tells her that there is a man at the mill called Bunch not Burch and who has worked there 7 years. At the store Lena buys a 15-cent tin of sardines, and then she gets a ride to Jefferson where she thinks Lucas is. She talks to the wagon driver and eats her sardines. As they crest a hill and approach Jefferson, the driver points out a column of yellow smoke. "That's a house burning," he says. The chapter closes with "I ain't been on the road but four weeks, and now I am in Jefferson already."


Lena Grove is a modern Madonna figure. She is a character who is with child, barefoot, in pursuit of the missing father. Despite this—and the reader might recall that the judgment of an unwed mother in the 1920s (the time of the setting) and 1930s (the time of the novel's publication) was extremely harsh—Lena is placid.

The symbolic representations of fertility in Lena's character are not only in her name (Grove, as in a fertile copse of trees) and her pregnant state. Martha Armstid gives Lena her "egg money." Eggs, of course, are representations of fertility as well.

The sentiment with which Lena begins her journey—"I ain't been on the road but four weeks, and now I am in Jefferson already"—will be echoed at the close of the novel. Here, she notes that she's come a "fur piece" from Alabama to Mississippi. At the close of the novel, that will be repeated in a statement of coming from Mississippi to Tennessee.

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