Faulkner Dying Essay, Research Paper
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is a story about a family s odyssey across the Mississippi countryside to bury Addie Bundren, their wife and mother. Addie is a hidden character throughout most of the book. We read and see the views of her family while they take her to get buried in Jefferson, and gain different perspectives of this character upon which the story is based. All we know about her in the beginning is that she is lying in her bed dying while people surround her in complete silence. As we read on we find out the truth about this wicked being and her influences on every member of her family.
Addie s death sheds a light on how the family lived during the years she was around and how they suddenly change now that one part of their lives has disappeared. Each and every member of the Bundren family has problems, from little Vardaman up to Anse the father.
These people take advantage of the fact that Addie is gone now and start daydreaming away at different objectives and things that they can do to improve their lives or solve their problems. An important point Faulkner is trying to show us is that most of the character s actions revolve around the death of Addie. We get a feel from the start that Addie is a strong person who is very opinionated. Whatever she wants, she gets. She demands to be buried in Jefferson, she wants a specially done coffin in which she wants to be buried and each member of the family reacts upon her requests . That is the way we see it at the beginning. We get a feeling she is a nice person, a caring mother, and a good wife who barely wants anything out of life than to be near her family. A few requests that she makes will not hurt anyone since she spent her life giving them what they wanted and pouring her sweat and blood into their wellbeing. We soon enough realize that it was all nonsense.
Addie uses her death and her final orders to take revenge over her family and cause any hurtful pain that are possible. Addie causes all the painful actions around her family either directly or indirectly, she is an everlasting abuser of each character no matter if they were her favorite or not. It is as if she knew when she was going to die and she knew exactly how she wanted to affect each character after her departure. Most of the pain and revenge is inflicted on Addie s husband Anse. A poor farmer who is lazy and can hardly carry himself to do any chores. He is teeth-less and has a need to act on every order his wife gives him. He is afraid of her. He is forced to take her to Jefferson to be buried as her final request. What she is putting Anse through now is a sort of payback for all the years when he just sat around while Addie and the children did all the work around the farm. Addie felt sorry for him being an ignorant pitiful person and she proves that by admitting to giving him Dewey Dell and Vardaman as a present because of the sin she committed with minister Whitfield. She never loved Anse, she only tried to use him over the years, but she realized that was not even possible because he was a good for nothing.
Addie had a total of five children. Four of which were from Anse; Cash, Darl, Dewey Dell and Vardaman. Her fifth child was a result of her secret affair with minister Whitfield. She had an undying love for the minister, which proves why her favorite son was Jewel. Jewel is the one thing that reminds her of that special person in her heart, whom she never stopped loving, so she gives most of her love and attention to him hoping he would return the same gesture. Jewel does not like the fact that her death is a major issue in their lives, he wants to bury her and get it over and done with. We know from the beginning Jewel does not get along with any of the Bundren family because he states himself that he wants to take his mother somewhere deserted where she can die peacefully while he rolls rocks on everyone s faces. Jewel seems to be cursed by his mother for some reason. He can only express himself through physical actions by being cruel. Yelling and screaming is the only way Jewel shows his love for his mother, but Jewel’s ferocity begins to wear him down physically. He has a hidden respect for his mother. Even though he does not return the love and affection she gives him, he expresses it in one way or another. One of which was saving her coffin from going downstream and rescuing the coffin from the burning barn. Jewel is obviously different from the rest; he must be similar to his real father, because he is intimidated and embarrassed by his family. He wants nothing to do with them; he does not want to be recognized as a Bundren. He wants to be independent and lead his own life in the matter that he pleases.
Cash, another favorite of his mother s, is hurt indirectly by he helping. He is determined to please his mother, even when she is dead. He spends so much time and effort making her the coffin that she wanted. There was a problem with its balance before they set out on the journey and Cash still had not fixed it, so he brought his tools with him in case he manages to get it fixed. He takes special care of his mother’s coffin all the way to Jefferson, where along the path; he breaks his leg while crossing a flooded river. Addie s indirect revenge on her son Cash is the fact that his leg was broken and later had problems with it.
“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”
This quote shows how much he cared for his mother and how much he wanted her to lead a quiet and peaceful death while being proud of him. Cash loved his mother with no strings attached.
Addie’s revenge also affects her little son Vardaman. Vardaman is the youngest of the children. He has not experienced much in his life and living on a farm affects it even more because he does not have the advantage of going to a city school or learning from people around him like little city boys his age. His mother was never really there for him. It was Addie s job to teach him about the world and how it is. It is a mother s job to teach her child about people, values, qualities, the way of life and manners. In this case it is twice as important because Vardaman never really had a father either since he was a lazy self-centered person. Not only that but he has no one to look up to, his mother is dead, his father is lost and his brothers and sister have their own problems that they need help with. Vardaman is a result of a lost soul. No one cares about him or his wellbeing; he has no friends and spends most of his time on his questioning things and ideas. This would definitely cause him stress and mental illness later in life. His confusion and unknowingness comes from his mother s death compounded by his family s failure to communicate reassurance and explanation to him. Vardaman expresses his manners by shouting at Dr. Peabody and beating his horses with a stick. His confusion is expressed by his questioning of whether his mum is a fish. To further confuse him Darl speaks to him about who Jewel is and how he is and this causes a complication in the way the little boy thinks.
Darl is one of Addie s least favorite sons. He feels totally rejected by his mother. He spent his life looking up to her as the most sacred person he knows and in return she ignored him and gave all her love to Jewel. Darl s psychotic ideas could have been