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Alienation in As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner

William Faulkner is an American novelist whose major work is As I Lay Dying. Faulkner gave each of his characters traits that are expressed throughout the story. The reader is introduced to each character through their detailed and descriptive character traits. We are able to delve into the character’s mind and see their personal and distinct traits. He did not tell us anything about the characters, but he takes us into the mind of each character to analyze what we see there. Even though these characters lead parallel lives we can see the total alienation and breakdown of the relationships between each other. Darl, Jewel, and Anse possess character traits that contribute to or cause the breakdown of their relationship.

Anse Bundren is a poor farmer, who was married to Addie for more than thirty years. He is lazy and selfish and relies greatly on his family and friends. Anse’s selfishness is what separates him from his two sons-Darl and Jewel. For example, the journey to Jefferson, to bury his dead wife was a promise he made to Addie, but his continued perseverance to better himself reveals his true selfishness. Despite the trials along the way and Addie’s body decomposing and attracting buzzards he is only concerned with getting to Jefferson to buy his new teeth. He uses Addie’s death to accomplish his own selfish motives. After Addie’s death Anse says, “But now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort.” (Faulkner 28). The only reason Anse is carrying out with the journey is to get his new teeth. He further shows his selfishness when their mules are drowned in the flood. He makes an arrangement with a kinsman to trade Cash’s eight dollars and Jewel’s beloved horse for a new team of mules. Thirdly, Anse is so concern…

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…ls seperate from each other despite everything they share together. Faulkner shows us that with the death of Addie, the flood, fire, and the decomposing of flesh that should have brought them closer together, they are too self-absorbed in themselves to ever get close to each other.

Works Cited

Backman, Melvin. Faulkner: the major years;: A critical study. Indiana University Press 1966

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography (Southern Icons) University Press of Mississippi, 2005

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage, 1987.

Getty, Laura J. “Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying” The Explicator. 64.3 (2005): 230. Gale. Web. 3 Oct. 2011

Humphrey, Robert. Stream of consciousness in the modern novel University of California Press, 1968

Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner: A Critical Interpretation, LSU Press, April 1, 1995

Truth Revealed in As I Lay Dying

Truth Revealed in As I Lay Dying

Addie Bundren conjures up the central darkness derived from her death and directly or indirectly causes actions in which each Bundren character takes advantage of Addie. With the character’s actions revolving around her death, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying reveals the truth about the people who surround a person may take advantage of him or her. The death of Addie Bundren shapes all of the character’s actions in life including Addie’s final request before her death. Addie takes advantage of her death by using it for revenge and inflicting final pains upon some characters, while the other characters use her to get what they want for their personal needs.

Addie causes all the painful actions around her family either directly or indirectly. Addie is foremost the prominent abuser of her upcoming death in As I Lay Dying. She predetermines her time to die, and she makes sure that the people in her family whom she dislikes must experience her wrath before she moves on to the next life. “Addie is the one who is dying, but she makes revenges run throughout the family and extend beyond” (Wadlington 35). Inflicting pain mostly on Anse, Addie enjoys herself. Anse, a lazy man, is forced by his wife to take her to Jefferson to be buried as her final request. Addie’s revenge on Anse was payback for all the times when he just sat around while Addie, her children, and sometimes neighbors do all the hard work for him. Also “Addie reacts to Anse’s arid conventionality by having a clandestine affair with minister Whitfield” (Wadlington 31). Addie also indirectly hurts one of her favorite sons, Cash. Cash is hurt indirectly when he helps ! his kinfolk carry his mother’s coffin to Jefferson, where along the path, he breaks his leg while crossing a flooded river. Although Cash is one of Addie’s favorites besides Jewel, Addie’s cruel revenge carries over to Cash’s broken leg, which later becomes infected. Besides her indirect action on Cash’s leg, Cash is the most favorite of Addie. As Wadlington states, “He is very much his mother’s son in expressing his feelings through physical action rather than through words by building a coffin for the mother he loves” (Wadlington 41).

Jewel, Addie’s second favorite next to Cash, seems to be cursed by his callous mother.

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