"a sign in electric lights: keep your  on Mottson, the gap filled by a human eye with an electric pupil."

Amulets in the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
Public DomainAmulets in the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
In a novel which incorporates vast swathes of African American folklore, it is striking that the eye symbol which Faulkner uses is similar to depictions of the ‘Judas eye’ or ‘evil eye’ appearing on protective amulets. The idea that some individuals are able to curse others merely through a look is ancient and widespread across many cultures. In this context, the hex is ambiguous: it can be read as an injunction to Jason concerning his errant niece or, since it is upon him that the eye’s electric gaze falls, an indication that he himself is cursed.


Eye of Providence, Great Seal of United States
Public DomainEye of Providence, Great Seal of United States - Credit: United States Federal Government
Alternatively, this eye could allude to the ‘Eye of Providence’, a symbol of the omnipresent watchfulness of God. This icon has great traction in the United States and appears on the Great Seal as an emblem of divine approval for ‘the American cause’. In this interpretation, the substitution of the all-seeing pupil with an electric bulb would seem an ironic jab at the replacement of Christian values with those of the hollow deity of capitalist ‘progress’.