Olfaction in William Faulkner's fiction: exploring gender and race through the sense of smell
Faulkner’s literature, set in the American South, imagines a rich olfactory environment. The ways in which characters employ their sense of smell provide information regarding the gender and racial stereotypes portrayed and maintained within Faulkner’s fictional communities. In my texts of focus, these communities are often characterized by misogyny, conservatism, and Christian piety. Within these narrow minded communities, an exploration of Faulkner’s olfactory landscape is important in order to examine how olfactory stimuli are interpreted and applied to the marginalized female and racially coded body. In Faulkner’s literature, smells appear to trigger male anxieties concerning the female body, anxieties related to sexuality and racial misrecognition, and scent is largely correlated to the objectification of female characters in a manner comparable to the male gaze.