"This World is Not His World": Disability and Marginalization in the Novels of William Faulkner

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Connolly, Gregory
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School of Letters , School of Letters Thesis 2020 , University of the South , Faulkner , Disability , Marginalization , Intersectionality
The novels of William Faulkner are populated with physically and mentally exceptional characters, offering diverse portraits of disability. This thesis employs the critical lens of disability studies to examine a distinct cluster of disabled characters in The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), and Sanctuary (1931). Within this trio of consecutively published novels, disability shapes male characters’ physicalities (Cash Bundren and Popeye), cognitions (Benjy Compson and Tommy), and psychologies (Quentin Compson and Darl Bundren), and each manifestation of disability engenders unique social degradations and intersectionalities with other marginalized groups. Because disability disrupts the ‘normal’ social constructs of white patriarchy in these novels, society marginalizes disabled male characters through stigmatization, forced institutionalization, and displays of violence. Disability is a defining feature of Faulkner’s South, and it figures into larger discourses on race, gender, and sexuality.