Whiteness, the National Guard, and Light in August
This chapter explores the historical development of new forms of military defense in the early twentieth century, such as the National Guard, and how this process was explicitly racialized in the Jim Crow South. It looks at the National Guard’s emergence in the figure of Percy Grimm in William Faulkner’s 1932 novel Light in August, focusing on its “promise of militarized modernization” reserved almost exclusively for white men, and how it “assisted in disciplining and federalizing a whiteness that belonged to the masses...and thus resignified local or regional whiteness as the official domain of the U.S. military.” The chapter considers how Faulkner critically “reimagines whiteness as tied to the horror of state-based violence” in modern America by showing the National Guard’s collapse into its ostensible opposite, the lynch mob.
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