Hit enter after type your search item

Abort the Matriarchy: Failed Mothers of the Patriarchal Systems within Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Morrison’s Paradise


Abortion is commonly a frowned on topic that does not show up in American Literature. Yet, Toni Morrison as well as William Faulkner utilize abortion in their works to critique ladies’s agency in parenthood in a patriarchal system. William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying eliminates the power of the matriarchy by denying the impregnated Dewey Dell firm over her existing state. While Toni Morrison does not entirely disarm the matriarchy in Heaven as Faulkner does, she verifies through personalities, such as Arnette, that abortion comes to be a negotiating tool in an assertive patriarchal system that no longer serves as the protector of females but the abuser. Through using their maternal characters as well as abortion, Faulkner and Morrison condemn the matriarchy, the power of being a mother, and also females’s firm over their own bodies in patriarchal systems.

In William Faulkner’s As I Lay Perishing, Addie Bundren is a female frustrated with her sexuality and also forced into pregnancy by her patriarchal counterpart. Addie claims that she did not also want the children yet, “when [she] understood that [she] had Cash money, [she] understood that living was terrible and that this was the answer to it” (Faulkner 171). The kids come to be a “infraction of her aloneness”, a curse put upon her by Anse. The only kid in which she locates solace is Cash money, however other than him, Anse rejects her positive identification as a mom throughout her life. Addie may have gotten away the patriarchal system in her death, however Dewey Dell, a youngster in which Addie claims is exclusively Anse’s, dies within it. However for the Bundren women, children basically represent unhappiness, a commitment, and also death to the sense of one’s self. Addie felt in this manner about her youngsters, as well as Dewey Dell seems to recognize this, too, as she searches for a cure for her problem. Dewey Dell appears to understand the assumptions the patriarchy has of her, but like Addie, she does not absolutely want to establish on them. Like Addie, her sense of self has been removed, and also she has been conditioned to thinking of herself as little bit greater than a sex-related things or residence slave. Dewey Dell is always defined in primitive, even animalistic terms. “Squatting, Dewey Dell’s wet outfit forms for the dead eyes of three blind men those mammalian ludicrosities which are the horizons and the valleys of planet”(Faulkner 164). This summary shows the method the guys in the Bundren patriarchy, Anse particularly, look at females as not stunning or feminine yet just birthing vessels.

Removed of agency, Dewey Dell is seen only as an object, no more also an individual. She is abused by her papa and also sibling’s lack of approval of her sexuality and hence condemned by it. Within her family members of men, Dewey Dell really feels pity as well as shame not just in her impregnated state but in her sexuality, itself. The patriarchy of her own family appears to make use of her sex, yet so does the papa of her child. After taking advantage of Dewey Dell, Lafe provides her 10 bucks to obtain an abortion and also abandons her. She is left feeling tricked, expectant, as well as hesitant of the power of men. In the center of the unique, Dewey Dell talks about a desire, which seems to represent her feelings regarding sex with Lafe. She reviews her remembrance of this desire: “When I used to sleep with Vardaman I had a nightmare when I thought I was conscious but I could not see as well as couldn’t feel the bed under me and I couldn’t think what I was I could not think about my name I couldn’t even believe I am a girl … Vardaman asleep and all of them back under me again and going on like a piece of awesome silk dragging across my naked legs” (Faulkner 121). These sensations of loss of control are a direct representation of exactly how she really felt in the area with Lafe. It is evident that Dewey Dell’s ideas have actually come to be taken in by her sexuality as well as newfound anxiety of guys. This worry is sensible as she seeks abortion, and the “pharmacologist” claims to have medicine for her, but all he does is rape her. She attempts to abort 3 different times however patriarchal numbers thwart her each effort. The final patriarchal stroke of violence versus Dewey Dell happens when Anse removes the abortion cash; thus, removing her of all company compeling her into indentured yoke in the Bundren patriarchy.

In Morrison’s Heaven, nearly every family in Ruby is regulated by a powerful papa figure possessing hegemonic authority, like Anse in As I Lay Dying. Instead of functioning as the guard of women, guys become their abusers. Morrison reveals that men that feel unconfident concerning their standing of manhood in the patriarchal system will act strongly to regain belongings of manly toughness and also power. Take, for example, K.D.’s misuse of Arnette who experienced his strikes as well as became pregnant with his kid. When agents of the community meet to discuss the assault on Arnette, it is a group of males, including K.D., that attempt to determine the ideal strategy. When the guys decide, Arnette’s daddy is asked if his daughter will consent to the terms. He states “I’m her papa. I’ll organize her mind” (Morrison 61). Due to the fact that Arnette is excluded of the meeting, this scene makes clear the patriarchal system of Ruby, in which women are denied a voice, continuing to be properties of the men. Arnette tries the miscarriage in order to try to leave the patriarchal hold that K.D. carries her, but the matriarchy of the Convent fails her.

When Connie refutes her an abortion, Arnette responds by “bash [ing] the out of [her child] (Morrison 250). Like Dewey Dell, Arnette links parenthood with despair, pain, and suffering through the patriarchy. She deserts her function as a maternal number, “rebelled by the work of her womb,” as well as rather tries to head to college to leave, but K.D.’s understanding is too tight on her (Morrison 249). Although entry provides her safety and security, the emptiness of life takes in Arnette as well as is consulted with little resistance. At her wedding event, Arnette mirrors that her fiancé, K. D., is “all she knew about her self- which is to state every little thing she recognized of her body was linked to him (Morrison 148)”. Arnette’s identification has been stripped away and changed by the ideals in which the patriarchy wished to infuse in their females people.

Via personalities such as Dewey Dell as well as Arnette, Faulkner and also Morrison condemn the matriarchy at the hands of a patriarchal system. Both ladies stop working to obtain agency in maternity and even abortion, resulting in their submission to the patriarchal systems in which they are indentured to. Morrison constructs a patriarchal system that shows its defects, advertising womanist perfects as Faulkner seems to create his system in an effort to say that women will certainly constantly be subject to the patriarchy. Within the patriarchal systems of As I Lay Passing away and also Paradise, abortion can either become a retreat or a condemnation to the system in which strips them of their agency and identification.


Mentioned Faulkner, William. As I Lay Perishing. Vintage International, 2005. Morrison, Toni. Heaven. Vintage International, 2014.

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar