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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. 9 June 2023. <>.

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Course Hero. "Light in August Study Guide." April 7, 2018. Accessed June 9, 2023.


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Light in August | Chapter 17 | Summary



This chapter opens on a Sunday night; Lena's child is born the next morning. Byron Bunch goes to Reverend Gail Hightower, wakes him, and asks him to come deliver the baby. Byron is on his way to fetch the doctor, but he wants Hightower with Lena just in case. When Byron and the doctor arrive at the cabin, they are too late: as they arrive "the doctor heard the infant cry." Mr. and Mrs. Hines are there, and Mrs. Hines's mind is confused. She believes the mother is her own daughter Milly, and the child is Joe.

Hightower leaves, but he returns and discovers that Byron has decided to seek out Joe Brown to tell him about the child's birth. He also learns that Doc Hines has slipped away and Mrs. Hines has followed him. Lena is unnerved by the way Mrs. Hines has been acting. She reveals that Byron asked her to marry him, but she refused. Hightower leaves again and learns that Byron quit his job.


As the novel winds toward its close, Lena Grove gives birth. In this moment there is a keen connection between her story and that of Joe Christmas. The reader may recall here that Joanna Burden's father, Nathaniel, was first married to a woman of Spanish descent. In Chapter 11, when Joanna speaks of her father, she notes that it "took him over twelve years to get married." He had returned to Kansas with the mother of his child, Calvin. At this point there have been 3 women in the novel who were pregnant and unmarried: Lena Grove, Milly Hines, and Nathaniel Burden's first wife.

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