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Not Even PastRace, Historical Trauma, and Subjectivity in Faulkner, Larsen, and Van Vechten$
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Dorothy Stringer

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823231478

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823231478.001.0001

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/ “Which Tooth Hit You First?”: Nation, Home, Women, and Violence in Requiem for A Nun

/ “Which Tooth Hit You First?”: Nation, Home, Women, and Violence in Requiem for A Nun

(p.44) 2. / “Which Tooth Hit You First?”: Nation, Home, Women, and Violence in Requiem for A Nun
Not Even Past

Dorothy Stringer

Fordham University Press

One of the most frequently-quoted lines in William Faulkner's work is an aphorism taken from the otherwise little-read 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It's not even past.” Barack Obama's references to “complexities of race in this country that we have never really worked through,” to “old racial wounds,” and to African Americans' crippling “memories of humiliation and doubt and fear,” define contemporary racial politics in the United States in terms of a multigenerational, psychological trauma. This trauma was instantiated by African slavery, and continues to be propagated down the generations by various forms of institutionalized racism. Freedom and writing belong to those who are never at rest, while peace belongs to those who are not free and cannot read.

Keywords:   William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Barack Obama, African Americans, racial politics, trauma, freedom, writing, racism, slavery

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