Several characters in Light in August are haunted by history. Joanna Burden carries this in her name, as her family history is a burden that keeps her from ever being able to move out from under the shadow of her male ancestors. Similarly, Hightower allowed the myth of his grandfather to dominate his life, and he moved to Jefferson pretty much because he was obsessed with the heroic idea of this man. Interestingly, the characters who aren't so consumed by the past, Byron and Lena, are two of the only characters still standing at the end of the novel.
Christmas moves into the cabin in order to act out his black ancestry.
Hightower experiences enlightenment when he finally acknowledges his pathological obsession with his familial past.