In August By Faulkner
In the novel, A Light in August, William Faulkner introduces us to a wide range
of characters of various backgrounds and personalities. Common to all of them is
the fact that each is type cast into a certain role in the novel and in society.

Lena is the poor, white trash southern girl who serves to weave the story
together. Hightower is the fanatic preacher who is the dark, shameful secret of

Jefferson. Joanna Burden is the middle-aged maiden from the north who is often
accused of being a іnigger-loverІ. And Joe Christmas is the epitome
of an outsider. None of them are conventional, everyday people. They are all in
some way disjointed from society; they do not fit in with the crowd. That is
what makes them intriguing and that is why Faulkner documents their story. Percy

Grimm is another such character and he plays a vital role in the novel. He is
the one to finally terminate Joe Christmas, who has been suffering his entire
life. Grimm is the enforcer, the one man who will uphold American pride at all
costs. He also stands for everything in the world that has held Christmas back.

He is the prototype of the ruthless enemy who is the source of all of

Christmas№ struggles. And Christmas can never escape him. He can run, as
he has been doing all his life and as he does in his desperate attempt to
escape. But he can never hide, as he tries to do at Hightower№s and as he
has been hiding his true self from the world he hates so much. Percy Grimm
represents the unmerciful society that has restrained and persecuted Joe

Christmas; it is only fitting that he should be the one to finally bring him
down in the end. Percy Grimm was born into the American south and grew up to be
a symbol and backbone of the environment he was raised in. His only regret in
life is being born too late. He feels that his sole purpose in life would be to
fight in World War I and defend the country to which he is completely and
utterly devoted. But the war happened to occur in the time period where іhe
should have been a man instead of a childІ (Faulkner, p.450). So when he
grows to be a man, he joins the National Guard, which is the closest thing to an
army he can find. But instead of protecting the country from foreign enemies,
his job with the National Guard entails protecting the country from certain
things within itself. Joe Christmas and the situation he has created is a direct
threat to Percy Grimm and the establishment he represents. Although

Grimm№s primary objective is to protect Christmas from hostile crowds,

Grimm is imprinted with a sort of primitive and instinctive hatred for who Joe

Christmas is, what he is, and what he has done. Grimm sees him as a dangerous,
unknown and more importantly іnigger-bloodedІ criminal. He had the
nerve to violate and savagely murder a white woman who happened to be part of

Grimm№s specifically drawn definition of іAmericanІ. He has
adopted, adheres to, and enforces the іbelief that the white race is
superior to any and all other races and that the American is superior to all
other white races and that the American uniform is superior to all men, and that
all that would ever be required of him in payment for this belief, this
privilege, would be his own lifeІ (Faulkner, p.451). Percy Grimm is a
tough, humorless, and forceful individual who commands the respect of others. He
is always on some sort of mission involving the preservation of order and he is
determined to use all of his resources to accomplish his goal. Grimm is referred
to by Faulkner as іthe PlayerІ. His main purpose in the novel is to
play the part of the executioner. Christmas does not stand much of a chance. Joe

Christmas has always been hampered by a society that shuns him, alienates him,
disgraces him and chases him away. Percy Grimm is the human representation of
this society. The climactic chase scene between Grimm and Christmas is symbolic
of how Christmas has been running from people and places all his life. He was on
the road all the time and was never able to settle down in one place for a
significant time period. Society never accepted his heritage and personality and
so he was always running away from it. But there comes a point where he can