Owen Elmore


The two parts of William Faulkner’s If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem—“The Wild Palms” and “Old Man”—mirror one another; the second story reflects a more familiar way of illustrating the same theme as the first. Each story emphasizes the other, building the shared theme subversive of traditional gender roles. It is also my feeling that Faulkner inverts Arthurian motifs to tell both stories (especially “The Wild Palms,” though most assume “Old Man” to be the more romantically accessible tale) exactly as Nathaniel Hawthorne did to tell The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne’s bifurcating of the Grail legend in order to reclaim feminine principles and so regenerate his community (and/or his inherited guilt) must have seemed ideal to Faulkner in his own cause to do the same for the South and his own Sins of the Father.

Author Biography

Owen Elmore, LSU Alexandria