- Purchase/rental options available:
This article offers a new ecocritical examination of William Faulkner’s Go Down, Moses (1942). Throughout the novel, Faulkner alludes repeatedly to Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (1851), and he bases the characterization of Isaac McCaslin in part on Ishmael. In doing so, Faulkner imports into his text a distinctly nineteenth-century brand of romanticism, particularly a fascination with the ecological sublime. However, this position ultimately proves untenable for Isaac, who witnesses the rapid destruction of the landscapes of the American South in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The negative ramifications of this environmental destruction extend beyond ecosystems, as Faulkner suggests that the existence of the natural world is imperative in the process of developing ethical systems that enable humans both to live and thrive.