Chapter five argues that the best way to grasp William Faulkner’s oeuvre is through the paradigm of the short story cycle because of his use of limited localities, interstitial temporalities, and formative kinships; this approach pushes against a mountain of criticism that expects and measures the unity of his work. The form, with its privileging of multiple, competing narratives, is ideally suited to articulating the crises of history and subjectivity that Faulkner dramatizes. Faulkner’s achievements in the cycle reach an apex in Go Down, Moses (1942), which is his most sustained treatment of black-white relations. Go Down, Moses explores both continual and heightened moments of interracial intimacies. The stories most sharply narrate the crises that the white McCaslin line faces when grappling with their unacknowledged kinship with the black Beauchamp line. This chapter demonstrate that the cycle dramatizes the production of provisional racial identities, because they do not depend upon rigid distinctions, essential characteristics, or defined origins.
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