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Faulkner and FormalismReturns of the Text$
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Annette Trefzer and Ann J. Abadie

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781617032561

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617032561.001.0001

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Sanctuary’s Reversible Bodies

Sanctuary’s Reversible Bodies

(p.77) Sanctuary’s Reversible Bodies
Faulkner and Formalism

James Harding

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter examines the textual body of William Faulkner’s novel Sanctuary, focusing on Temple’s narration of her rape during a court testimony. It looks at the repetition of the singular neuter pronoun “it” in the novel and argues that it is Faulkner’s way of directing attention away from the violence of the girl’s traumatic rape. The chapter considers Faulkner’s grammar and syntax, and how they enact a semantic conflict in the novel between the grammatical violence of the body of the text and the material violation of Temple’s body. It also shows that the pronouns point beyond a simple denial; Temple attempts to reconstruct the rape in such a way as to reverse her own violation. The chapter suggests that Temple’s texts, more specifically her grammar and her crafty deployment of pronouns, open up a space for her own female agency and that Faulkner—much like Temple—attempts to reconfigure the white female body as a locus of power.

Keywords:   rape, William Faulkner, Sanctuary, violence, grammar, syntax, pronouns, female agency, female body, power

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