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As I Lay Dying


In Faulkner’s As I Lay Perishing, he utilized animals to symbolize characters. The Bundren children are obsessed with animals throughout the book. Vardaman is encouraged that his mom is a fish, Darl declares that Gem’s mom is a horse, and Dewey Dell associates with the farm cow as another female.

After each character finds out of their mother’s death they each relate an animal to scenarios obvious to their own lives. Varadaman sees Addie as a fish since of the way that she has actually been changed from conscious dead. Vardaman catches a fish on the day his mother dies and cuts it up and brings it inside to be prepared.

The blood of the fish is all over his clothing and on the same day Addie dies. Vardaman connects a fish with his mom and believes her to be a fish. “Vardaman comes back and picks up the fish. It slides out of his hands, smearing wet dirt onto him, and flops down, dirtying itself again, gapmouthed, goggle-eyed, hiding into the dust like it repented of being dead, like it was in a rush to get back concealed again,” (Faulkner, 31). In this section Vardaman relates his mama to being a fish. Vardaman utilizes the death of the fish to symbolize the death of his mom. Vardaman occurs your home, bloody as a hog to his knees, and that ere fish sliced up with the axe like it or not,” (Faulkner, 38). Vardaman later understands the idea of death and how it relates back to his own being. Although he appears to be young, Vardaman starts to associate his now dead mother to a now dead fish. “I can feel where the fish remained in the dust. It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls,” (Faulkner, 53.) The fish symbol is illustrated throughout the novel as being Vardaman’s mom. “My mom is a fish,” (Faulkner, 84).

Next, Faulkner uses the Bundren cow to signify Addie’s death, the bond between Dewel Dell and Vardaman. Dewey Dell is the character that relates most with the household cow. The cow just like Dewey Dell has something inside of them. The cow lows at the foot of the bluff. She nuzzles at me, snuffing, blowing her breath in a sweet, hot blast, through my dress, against my nakedness, moaning. ‘You got to wait a little while. Then I’ll tend to you,'” (Faulkner, 61). The milk inside the cows body is associated with the child growing within Dewey Dell.

The milk is symbolic of the important things inside her body. “The cow nuzzles at me moaning. ‘You’ll just need to wait. What you got in you aint absolutely nothing to what I got in me, even if you are a lady too,'” (Faulkner, 63). Although Dewey Dell is pregnant now she finds that she has to be the maternal figure in your home. “‘You go on to your house and get your dinner.’ He draws back. I hold him. ‘You stop now. You leave me be,'” (Faulkner, 62). Gem is not able to reveal emotion towards his mother, nevertheless he has no problem representing it towards his horse, despite the fact that his methods might appear violent. Jewel with dug heels, shutting down the horse’s wind with one hand, with the other patting the horse’s neck in other words strokes myriad and caressing, cursing the horse with obscene ferocity,” (Faulkner, 12). Based on Darl’s word, the horse is a sign of Jewel’s love for his mom. For Jewel, nevertheless, the horse, based on his riding of it, apparently represents a hard-won liberty from the Bundren family. Jewel is incredibly possessive and enthusiastic about his horse. He had actually spent his nights cleaning up a field in order to purchase it with his own money. Anse takes the horse and trades it for a group of mules to bring the caravan to Jefferson.

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