Study Guide

Byron Bunch in Light in August

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Byron Bunch

Bunch is characterized by his Christian work ethic and moral values. Refusing a life of wild excess, he stands in utter contrast to Christmas's illegal practices and lack of social responsibility, as well as Joe Brown's drinking and gambling. Despite these notable qualities, Bunch's life seems incomplete. He lives his life in quiet isolation and strict routine, without romantic or emotional attachments, and there's something lonely about this.

When he meets Lena Grove, however, Bunch's personality begins to change – he acts on impulse and does potentially "immoral" things like bringing a pregnant woman to his boarding house, and keeping her away from the father of her baby. Loving Lena causes him to go out of his comfort zone, and we get the sense by novel's end that he's happier for it. The fact that he shares his name with Lord Byron, a scandalous poet and leading figure of Romanticism, suggests that he might be something of a secret poet, and that he got a bit of enlightenment through love.

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