“When will we lie down in darkness and have our light in ashes?” A Reader-Response Analysis of William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness

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Shokhan M. Fatah


This paper highlights the literary achievement of William Styron’s (1925-2006) debut novel Lie Down in Darkness (1951) from a reader-response approach. The novel’s plot, characters, and themes evoke relatable emotions in the readers’ minds. By studying the emotional developments of the protagonist Peyton, through her thoughts, words, and symbols, this paper examines the emotional response the novel’s aestheticism provokes in readers. The research gives a brief background and explains the main premises of the reader-response theory according to the American critic Louise M. Rosenblatt. The study elucidates the tools of imagery and symbolism used by Styron to make readers reflect on their personal experiences in relation to issues like sin, guilt, loss, nostalgia, and failure. Through an exploration of the characters, themes, and narrative structure, this analysis reveals the novel’s capacity to resonate on a deeply personal and individual level. The Loftis family’s complex dynamics and internal struggles serve as a mirror through which readers reflect on their own experiences, forming unique connections and interpretations. The narrative’s shifting perspectives and temporal shifts invite readers to actively construct meaning, further fostering a dynamic reader-text relationship.


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How to Cite
Fatah, S. . M. (2023) “‘When will we lie down in darkness and have our light in ashes?’ A Reader-Response Analysis of William Styron’s Lie Down in Darkness”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 6(1), pp. 179-184. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v6n1y2023.pp179-184.
Author Biography

Shokhan M. Fatah, English Department, College of Education, Charmo University, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Dr. Shokhan Mohammed Fatah has a B.A. degree in English Language and Literature, College of Education in Chamchamal, Sulaimany University, Kurdistan Region (2012). She has M.A degree in English Literature, Sulaimany University, Kurdistan Region (2016). She Ph.D. in English Literature at Sulaimany University. She joined Charmo university in 2012 as an assistant researcher. Her current academic title is lecturer. Presently, she is a scientific member at English department, Charmo University, Kurdistan Region. She has published 7 papers in conferences and journals.  



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