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Light in August | Study Guide

William Faulkner

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Light in August | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1920s August

    Lena Grove walks from Alabama to Mississippi.

    Chapter 1
  • Shortly before that

    Joe Brown and Joe Christmas quit their jobs at the mill.

    Chapter 2
  • When Lena Grove arrives

    Byron Bunch reveals to Lena that Joe Brown is really Lucas Burch.

    Chapter 2
  • That same time

    Joanna Burden is murdered and her house burned.

    Chapter 2
  • Shortly after

    Joanna Burden's nephew offers a reward for the capture of her murderer.

    Chapter 13
  • About a week later

    Joe Christmas is arrested in Mottstown.

    Chapter 15
  • Sunday

    Byron Bunch asks Reverend Gail Hightower to lie to provide an alibi for Joe Christmas.

    Chapter 16
  • Monday

    Lena Grove delivers her child.

    Chapter 17
  • A few days later

    The deputy brings Joe Brown to see Lena Grove and the baby.

    Chapter 18
  • Within hours

    Joe Brown hops a train and abandons Lena Grove.

    Chapter 18
  • That week

    Percy Grimm organizes a patrol in downtown Jefferson.

    Chapter 19
  • Shortly after

    Joe Christmas escapes and hides in Reverend Gail Hightower's house.

    Chapter 19
  • Within hours

    Percy finds Joe, shoots him, and castrates him before he dies.

    Chapter 19
  • Sometime after

    Hightower reflects on history, "phantoms," and family.

    Chapter 20
  • Two months later

    Lena and Byron travel in search of the baby's father.

    Chapter 21

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Chapter 1 Lena Grove is walking from Alabama in search of Lucas Burch, the father of her unborn child. In Mississippi she comes ac... Read More
Chapter 2 Byron Bunch recalls the arrival of a new worker, a man in a pressed suit whose surname is Christmas. He works in his fin... Read More
Chapter 3 This chapter introduces Reverend Gail Hightower, a disgraced minister whose wife "went bad" and was killed or committed ... Read More
Chapter 4 Byron Bunch and Reverend Gail Hightower continue to talk. In the process Byron shares what he knows: that Joe Brown (Luc... Read More
Chapter 5 The chapter opens with a recounting of some of the same information that Byron Bunch shared about Joe Christmas, specifi... Read More
Chapter 6 The chapter opens with one of the most iconic lines from all of Faulkner's novels: "Memory believes before knowing remem... Read More
Chapter 7 The story resumes when Joe Christmas is 8. He is whipped 10 times with the strap by his adoptive father, Simon McEachern... Read More
Chapter 8 Joe Christmas slips out his window and retrieves his hidden, new suit in the stable. He realizes Mr. McEachern knows abo... Read More
Chapter 9 Simon McEachern lies awake in bed, thinking about Joe's suit. He sees Joe get in a car, so he saddles a horse and follow... Read More
Chapter 10 The chapter picks up where the last one ended. Joe Christmas remembers a blond woman putting a banknote in his pocket be... Read More
Chapter 11 This chapter continues chronologically from the last one. Joe Christmas lives in the cabin adjacent to the big house. He... Read More
Chapter 12 The story continues on a linear path as it recounts Joe Christmas's history with Joanna Burden. The narrator describes a... Read More
Chapter 13 This chapter shifts back in time to the fire at the Burden house. People have gathered to stare at the body of Joanna Bu... Read More
Chapter 14 The deputy tells the sheriff that there's "somebody out there in that cabin." He explains that a woman from Alabama is l... Read More
Chapter 15 Chapter 15 opens by noting, "Christmas was captured in Mottstown." The narrator also observes that there is "an old coup... Read More
Chapter 16 Byron Bunch goes to see Reverend Gail Hightower, waking him to tell him that Joe Christmas has been arrested and that bo... Read More
Chapter 17 This chapter opens on a Sunday night; Lena's child is born the next morning. Byron Bunch goes to Reverend Gail Hightower... Read More
Chapter 18 Byron goes to the boardinghouse to settle accounts. He had no money due, and his things are gathered for him. He then te... Read More
Chapter 19 The chapter begins with a summary of Joe Christmas's escape and how he had "taken refuge" in Hightower's house. Some peo... Read More
Chapter 20 This chapter is primarily about Reverend Gail Hightower and his memories. He imagines he lives among phantoms, as he thi... Read More
Chapter 21 This final chapter opens with a "furniture repairer and dealer who recently made a trip into Tennessee." He tells his wi... Read More
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