Darkness in “That Evening Sun” represents Nancy’s fear and the unspoken horror of death that underlies events in the story. Nancy is terrified of the dark, particularly the dark lane outside her cabin, where she believes her husband Jesus is lying in wait to murder her. Throughout the story, Nancy is desperately trying to put off the moment that she feels is inevitable (the moment that Jesus will attack her) and this desperation links into the story’s title; Nancy trying to postpone her own death is like trying to stop the sun going down and leaving the world in darkness.
Nancy’s certainty that she is going to killed is underscored by Faulkner’s use of language pertaining to death and darkness throughout the story. When Nancy is lying in the dark in the Compson children’s bedroom, she makes a sound which, Quentin says, seems like “it went out like a match.” This reflects the hopelessness of Nancy’s life—the fact that she has only existed to be a servant and a prostitute and then to be murdered. Nancy also thinks she is damned or “hellborn”; that is, she believes that even after she is killed she will find no salvation or “light” in the Christian sense, despite the fact that “Jesus” is coming for her. When the children are in Nancy’s cabin, Quentin says that though her form is inside, but it is like some part of her is outside, in the darkness. When Quentin peers into the dark ditch after they have walked Nancy home, he notes that he cannot see clearly in the “shadows” there. This suggests that, although Mr. Compson has assured Nancy that Jesus is not in the ditch, Mr. Compson also has little idea, and does not really want to know, what is lurking in the dark in Jefferson.
Darkness Quotes in That Evening Sun
Nancy whispered something. It was oh or no, I don’t know which. Like nobody had made it, like it came from nowhere and went nowhere, until it was like Nancy was not there at all; that I had looked so hard at her eyes on the stairs that they had got printed on my eyeballs, like the sun does when you have closed your eyes and there is no sun. “Jesus,” Nancy whispered. “Jesus.” “Was it Jesus?” Caddy said. “Did he try to come into the kitchen?” “Jesus” Nancy said. Like this: Jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus, until the sound went out like a match or a candle does.
She came and sat in a chair before the hearth. There was a little fire there. Nancy built it up, when it was already hot inside. She built a good blaze. She told a story. She talked like her eyes looked, like her eyes watching us and her voice talking to us did not belong to her. Like she was, living somewhere else, waiting somewhere else. She was outside the cabin. Her voice was inside and the shape of her, the Nancy that could stoop under a barbed wire fence with a bundle of clothes balanced on her head as though without weight, like a balloon, was there. But that was all.
We left her sitting before the fire. “Come and put the bar up,” father said. But she didn't move. She didn't look at us again, sitting quietly there between the lamp and the fire. From some distance down the lane we could look back and see her through the open door. “What, Father?” Caddy said. “What’s going to happen?” “Nothing,” father said. Jason was on father's back, so Jason was the tallest of all of us. We went down into the ditch. I looked at it, quiet. I couldn't see much where the moonlight and the shadows tangled. “If Jesus is hid here, he can see us, cant he?” Caddy said. “He's not there,” father said. “He went away a long time ago.”