As I Lay Dying is a novel by William Faulkner. It was first published in 1930.
The novel tells the story of the Bundren family and their journey to bury their mother, Addie, in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi.
The novel is told from the perspective of 15 different characters, including Addie herself.
As I Lay Dying is considered one of Faulkner’s most important novels and is studied by students of literature all over the world.
Here are some things to consider when doing an analysis of As I Lay Dying:
– The structure of the novel (15 different perspectives)
– The theme of death
– The symbolism used throughout the novel
– The characters
– The setting
– The use of language
William Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying, uses different features in his writing that pertain to his life. In Faulkner’s most famous works, the setting of Mississippi is mentioned. Since Faulkner lived most of his life in Mississippi, he was able to provide depth and detail to the portrayal of characters and setting with ease. Another distinguishing feature is seen in multiple perspectives used throughout some novels- such as As I Lay Dying which is told through protagonist’s children’s points-of-view; giving the story an liberty shift with thoughts and feelings accordingly.
This is a technique that Faulkner often employed, and it is one of the reasons why his works are so unique.
The use of different features in As I Lay Dying provides insight into Faulkner’s life and the things that were important to him. Mississippi was a big part of Faulkner’s life, and he was able to use his personal experiences to create a richer story. The multiple perspectives allowed Faulkner to explore different aspects of the characters’ lives, and this helped to make the novel more interesting. Overall, these features helped to make As I Lay Dying a great novel.
Cash, Addie Bundren’s oldest son, begins building a wooden coffin for his dying mother at the start of the novel. The family is aware that they have to begin their journey to Jefferson, Mississippi soon since it was Addie’s dying wish to return there in death.
They would encounter many physical and emotional obstacles throughout the trip. Their crossing of a river proved difficult when the weight of the coffin caused it to fall into the water along with their pack of mules. Dewey Dell, Addie’s one and only daughter was too concerned about her pregnancy to worry about her mother’s death much during this time.
A man named Lafe raped her, and now she’s trying to get an abortion. The Bundrens reach their final destination, where Addie is buried. Faulkner uses first person point of view to narrate the story through different characters’ eyes. This allows readers to see the events from different perspectives and have a greater understanding of the novel as a whole.
Faulkner’s choice to use multiple first person point of views creates a more dynamic story because readers are able to understand each character’s individual motives. For example, Darl Bundren, Addie’s second oldest son, is faced with the dilemma of whether or not to tell his family about his mother’s death. He eventually decides not to say anything, which leads to Cash’s injury. Darl’s decision is significant because it allows readers to see how each character deals with tragedy in their own way.
Anse Bundren, Addie’s husband, is primarily motivated by self-interest. He is more concerned with getting his new teeth than he is with his wife’s death. Faulkner uses Anse’s character to explore the theme of selfishness. Although Anse may seem like a bad husband, Faulkner shows that everyone has some degree of selfishness within them.
As I Lay Dying is a complex novel that uses different literary devices to enhance the story. Faulkner’s use of multiple first person point of views allows readers to see the events from different perspectives and have a greater understanding of the novel as a whole.
The theme of self-interest is explored through the character of Anse Bundren. Although Anse may seem like a bad husband, Faulkner shows that everyone has some degree of selfishness within them.
Faulkner’s choice to use first person point of view creates a more dynamic story because readers are able to understand each character’s individual motives.
By using different literary devices, Faulkner was able to create a complex novel that explores the theme of self-interest.
As I Lay Dying deals with a lack of empathy between family members. Throughout the mother’s illness, her children never show much emotion or grief. They also don’t seem to care for each other very much. For example, on page 28, when Dewey Dell is told by her brother Darl that their mother is going to die, she simply asks him when it will happen. She shows no surprise or sadness at the news that the woman who gave birth and raised her is going to be gone soon.
Darl’s response to his sister was “…She is not going to die. She is already dead.” (Faulkner, 28). Faulkner uses this line to show that the mother is not really in their lives anymore and how they see her. This also could be interpreted as the siblings never truly had a relationship with their mother which leads back to the theme of absence of sympathy.
Faulkner also uses dark humor in As I Lay Dying. An example of this is when Jewel is talking about how he wishes he could have seen his mother one last time before she died. Addie Bundren, the mother, told her children that she didn’t want to see them when she was on her deathbed. When Jewel finds out that his mother didn’t want to see him he says, “I wisht I could of got to see her once more…Just once more before she died so I could of told her. Tell her how much I loved her. That is all I wanted to do” (Faulkner,116). The way Faulkner wrote this it sounds like Jewel is going to tell his mother how much he loved her and then she would die. He almost seemed happy that he would get to tell his mother how much he loved her right before she died.
Another example of dark humor is when Darl is talking about how he wishes he could have been there when his mother died so he could have held her hand. Addie Bundren told her children that she didn’t want them to be in the room with her when she was dying. When Darl finds out that his mother didn’t want him to be there he says, “I wish I had been there…I would of held her hand” (Faulkner,131). The way Faulkner wrote this it sounds like Darl is happy that he wasn’t in the room with his mother when she was dying.
The last example of dark humor is when Anse Bundren, the father, is talking about how he wishes he could have been there when his wife died so he could have held her hand. Addie Bundren told her children that she didn’t want them to be in the room with her when she was dying. When Anse finds out that his wife didn’t want him to be there he says, “I wish I had of been there…I would of held her hand” (Faulkner,148). The way Faulkner wrote this it sounds like Anse is happy that he wasn’t in the room with his wife when she was dying.
The last theme I will be discussing is death. There are many examples of death in As I Lay Dying. The first example is when Addie Bundren, the mother, dies. The second example is when Darl Bundren, one of the sons, goes crazy and burns down a barn. The third example is when Jewel Bundren, another son, kills a man. The fourth example is when Anse Bundren, the father, buries his wife.
In conclusion, As I Lay Dying is a novel about the central themes of absence of sympathy and death. Faulkner uses dark humor to contrast the serious topics in the novel.