Analysis of as I Lay Dying by Faulkner Essay
As I Lay Dying by Faulkner is a strange work with a changing perspective that can leave the reader confused, and a story that can leave a reader with an uneasy feeling. In the action of the novel, Jewel risks his life to save his mother’s casket, the Bundren family is forced to sell almost all of their possessions, and the family “works together” to eventually bury their mother in Jefferson. The Bundren family is dysfunctional at times because of broken relationships between the children and deeply imbedded psychological issues, but the root of this dysfunction is terrible parentage.
Before Addie is introduced, Faulkner describes her coffin being assembled. Like Tull’s wagon and Cash’s adze, the item Faulkner uses to introduce a character often defines what said characters role may be in the story. In Addie’s case, her role in the plot is to die. It is not her death though that sparks the action in the novel, but rather her dying wish, to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson.
Addie Bundren’s death marks the beginning of this novel, and with her heath comes her dying wish to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson.
In summary the story might seem a family’s selfless trip to bury their mother, but the truth is far from it. Of the five children; Darl, Dewey Dell, Jewel, Cash and Vardaman and the father Anse only Jewel and Darl have no other motives. The two may be the only to have genuine love for their mother, but Jewel most of all. Because of fierce devotion to his mother Jewel risks his own life more than once to save his mother’s casket. This causes a rift between the two half-brothers. At one point in the novel the family is faced with crossing a flooded bridge.
Darl believed Jewel should take a rope across the river to pull the family’s wagon across, but instead Jewel carried across Addie’s casket. The divide between them in this anecdote is represented by a log barreling down the river, taking the family’s wagon with it. Afterwards the family spends the night at the house of a farmer. In a desperate attempt to end the family’s troubles, and in a final act of envy over Jewel being Addie’s favorite child, Darl lights a barn on fire in order to incinerate the coffin he has left inside. Jewel heroically rescues the coffin but leaves his back burnt and scarred. “It’s Cash and Jewel and Vardaman and Dewey Dell,” pa says kind of hangdog and proud too, with his teeth and all, even if he wouldn’t look at us. “Meet Mrs. Bundren,” he says. ” This is the passage that ends the novel. Here stands the patriarch Anse Bundren, over the freshly dug grave of his late wife, introducing his new set of false teeth and his new bride to his children. This type of awful parenting and selfish nature has clearly rubbed off on his children too. Jewel describes the family as “vultures” before his mother’s wake.
There was no funeral, and almost no mourning to be had from the Bundrens, the family was simply waiting for Addie to die. Anse was looking for a new set of false teeth. Cash was trying to get a record player. Vardaman went to buy bananas. Dewey Dell went to get an abortion. In conclusion, the action of the novel was motivated by the death of the mother; the deep seeded problems within the family are caused by the father, and the main conflict I the story is between two brothers. They are terribly awful people in a strange and confusing work of literature
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