Light in August
by William Faulkner
Christmas's foster father, Simon McEachern, is a strict, stern man who's deeply associated with a brand of Christianity called Calvinism. Calvinists believe that humans are utterly sinful after the Fall (when Adam and Eve submitted to temptation and ate the forbidden fruit), and that the only way to even begin to purify oneself is through hard manual labor and regimented devotion. They also believe in a chosen "Elect" – a group of people who are guaranteed salvation, as long as they work and pray hard. McEachern's religious views border on fanaticism, driving him to beat Joe when he doesn't memorize his catechism and whenever he catches the boy lying. Ultimately, McEachern's rigid nature drives Christmas to hit him with a chair, potentially killing him.