ABSTRACT

This article argues that Nathaniel Hawthorne and William Faulkner share a significant theme evocative of Native American spiritual belief, namely, an ethical relation between the land and its inhabitants; the “pull of the land” is a moral force that can administer ethical guidance. Using Joseph Epes Brown's view of indigenous religion, we demonstrate that this idea underlies key works published a century apart, “Roger Malvin's Burial” (1831) and “The Bear” (1942). Close readings establish textual parallels revealing authorial guilt as protagonists Reuben Bourne and Ike McCaslin are drawn by the land itself to return to the grave sites of beloved father figures Roger Malvin and Sam Fathers. Both Bourne and McCaslin commit a form of patricide; both crave redemption; both reenact earlier scenes of violence committed by settlers against indigenous people. The article concludes that Hawthorne and Faulkner adapt the lessons of Native American spirituality to undermine Western pieties.

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