In “Matricide and the Mother’s Revenge: As I lay Dying,” Doreen Fowler sees Addie as the central destabilizing factor in the patriarchal pursuit. She depicts Addie as “plurality that threatens difference” — the establishment and prosperity of individualism, “the difference upon which language, culture, and authority are established” (319). But most importantly, Fowler identifies Addie’s character as static while maintaining the emphasis that Addie’s duty is “to be alive,” (317) lighting a contradictory spark.
Wouldn’t denying the existence of fluidity and cyclic nature as the symbolism of “being alive” be equivalent of ignoring the fluid existence of a mountainous stream. And isn’t, in fact, Addie’s duty “to be alive” parallel to the earth’s necessity of balancing itself? And now, that Addie is dead, wouldn’t it be more logical to take Fowler’s undeniably eloquent analysis of maternity as matter and pin it to an unavoidable denial in coping with death, rather than view it as an instrument in minimizing mother’s existence in order to aid the patriarchal law of order?
In other words, before we adopt the novel’s symbolism as a conscious product of some systematic agenda in pursuing patriarchy, it is important to consider Bundren’s estrangement as a product of a sudden instability, fear, and uncertainty, deriving from Addie’s death and driving the family into desperate attempts of creating a false distance between the mother and themselves, forcedly subduing pain by separating the inseparable in pursuit of a new happiness?