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As I Lay Dying And Stinking Morality

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William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is a novel about a household that travels to Jefferson, a town in Mississippi, to fulfill the dream of their deceased mother to be buried there. The long journey exposes the true character and intentions of each member of the family. Along the way, several members devote selfless acts and expose their selfless side, while others perform self-centered acts triggered by their simply personal motives. Faulkner’s style and storytelling are rather insightful and often makes the reader ponder the real character of each family member.

In William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, he portrays characters directed by actions to benefit themselves, to benefit others, and actions with unidentified causes or reasons. Probably the most self-centered character in the book is Anse, the father of the Bundren family and partner of Addie. Anse comes off as an unintelligent, greedy, and unconcerned character throughout the journey. Anse is more worried with troubling his kids and what they are doing rather than spending time soothing his wife during her eleventh hours. Anse makes use of Addie’s wish to take a trip to Jefferson to satisfy a motive of his own: to buy a new set of teeth. During the journey, Anse discusses his new teeth numerous times, and reveals indifference that his spouse simply passed away and they are going to bury her. “But I durn if He do not take some curious ways to show it, seems like. Now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort. It will.” (Faulker 111) When Cash, among Anse’s kids, breaks his leg, Anse is too low-cost to employ a doctor so he pours cement on his leg to form a cast. Anse likewise steals Cash’s cash when he was unconscious from the pain of his injury. In addition, he forces another among his children, Gem, to offer his cherished horse to pay for the households’ travel, since Anse is too broke and persistent to get a job.

Together with Anse, Dewey Dell, the only female child, devotes a number of actions to benefit only herself. Dewey’s intention is to buy “something” to repair her abortion down in Jefferson. She likewise stops working to reveal love towards her mother and family, focusing her efforts on this motive. Dewey dislikes taking blame for her actions, and does not even acknowledge her own pregnancy as her own fault. When she encounters the druggist in Jefferson, he informs her that if she makes love with him he will provide her something to stop her abortion. She willingly accepts the offer, while her more youthful brother Vardaman waits outside for her. At the very end of the unique, when her bro Darl is the only person to know of her pregnancy, she attacks him in order to eventually send him to a mental institution. “Dewey Dell preoccupies herself as soon as again with thoughts of her potential pregnancy, referring to herself as a “little tub of guts.” (Slaughter)

Addie Bundren, the mom and figure whom the book is centered around, likewise comes off as a self-centered character. Addie’s life is filled with grief and isolation, and she feels that having kids is essentially going to provide implying to her. However, Jewel and Dewey Dell are the only two of her kids that she appreciates and have actually given her joy. “She takes a look at pa; all her stopping working life appears to drain into her eyes, urgent, irremediable. It’s Jewel she desires.” (Faulkner 47) The rest she thinks about to be failures and worthless births. “And I understood that I had Cash, I knew that living was awful which this was the answer to it.” (Faulker 171) Although Addie dies, she tells numerous chapters and even admits that Anse was “dead to her” even though they were still wed for 10 years. Through both her actions and declarations, we see that Addie is a totally egocentric and depressed mother, and also a bad spouse.

In spite of the selfish characters and actions in the novel, there are several who likewise display generous commitment to their household. Firstly, Cash can unquestionably be considered the most virtuous character in the whole book. (Padgett) At the start of As I Lay Dying, he is constructing a casket for his mom out in the rain while the rest of his family is within. Along the trip, he reveals compassion for his mother and his family, specifically little sibling Vardaman. He is constantly comforting and discussing the families’ situation to him, especially what Addie’s death implies. When the household is crossing a river, the wagon falls and the coffin floats away. Money handles to rescue it while re-breaking his leg in the process. He suffers remarkable discomfort and his household makes him a makeshift erupt of cement as an effort to assist, although later on he needs to get the leg cut off due to infection. Throughout the whole journey, even in the most challenging and agonizing times, he remains silent and never complains. His main focus is always on his mom’s desire and the good of the family. Cash is a very generous character, as demonstrated by his actions and mindset in the book.

Another character who display altruism is Darl. Darl comes off as something of a misfit in the household, and tends to have a totally different attitude and thought process. He is intelligent and gets along well with others for the a lot of part, but at times his odd point of view and communicating ultimately chooses his fate. (Faulker’s) He is really loyal along the journey and shows his commitment to his household and mom. While the family is remaining at a barn, Darl chooses to burn it down in an effort to bury his mom there. Darl believes that is the very best for her at the time, and is really doing it out of his love for her. The casket is saved and his strategy fails. Later on, the town’s authorities arrest him and his sibling attacks him for his knowledge of her pregnancy. Darl understood about her pregnancy all along and told nobody, yet his sibling still attacked him at the end.

In addition to Cash and Darl, Jewel also reveals his love and selflessness throughout the book. Gem stays quiet throughout much of the novel, much unlike his brother Darl. We see Jewel’s true character when he sells his precious horse for his mother’s burial. His daddy is too cheap to work or get the money, and Jewel sacrifices a large part of himself for his mom. He also protects Addie’s coffin along the method and guarantees its safety to Jefferson. Jewel additionally locates of love and regard for Cash’s tools that had actually fallen in the river. (Dudek) There was no real need to, but Gem knew they were important to Money and wanted to make his bro happy. In the future, Jewel believes that a guy has actually insulted his family, and he nearly begins a fight to stand up for them. Gem’s actions of bravery and selflessness reveal his real excellent character throughout the journey. In addition to the lots of self-indulgent or generous actions in the story, there are a number of characters whose real intentions are unidentified or tough to discover. A great example of this is Vardaman. Vardaman is a baffled and misdirected young boy whose specific age is not provided. Vardaman’s failure to comprehend is shown in two main actions throughout the journey. Initially, he drills holes in his mother’s casket to attempt to permit her to breathe. Vardaman does not comprehend the concept of death. Next, he captures a fish and envisions that his passing away mom is the fish. (Padgett) He chops the fish up the next day, and believes that is his dead mom. “It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls. Then it wasn’t so. It hadn’t happened then. And now she is getting up until now ahead I can not catch her.” (Faulkner 53) Along the journey, Vardaman is a baffled and misdirected boy with unknown factors behind his reasoning and actions.

Other members of the family also have unidentified reasons for their actions. Jewel is the most quiet of the family, and for the first half of the novel he barely talks at all. We know that he adores his horse, however besides that we know bit at all. “It’s due to the fact that I am alone. If I might just feel it, it would be different, because I would not be alone. However if I were alone, everybody would understand it.” (Faulkner 59) Darl comes off as a very mysterious and various character. He tends to think differently from the remainder of the family, and they don’t quite comprehend why he does what he does. (Fargnoli) For example, his burning of the burn was totally unjustified and his household believed he was insane. In addition to the household, other members in the novel likewise commit actions for unidentified reasons. Cora Tull, a next-door neighbor, assists Addie throughout her final days and conveniences her instead of her household at times, regardless of the truth that she Addie’s life and the method she acts. (Bloom) While Addie is dying, Whitfield anxiously ran to her bed and asked Anse to be forgiven. He wished to discuss to Anse about his and Addie’s affair and pray to God in front of him. He does this for a totally unnecessary and unusual factor, and hopes that Addie hasn’t already told Anse their secret. There are numerous characters in the unique, besides the primary family, that devote actions for unknown or secret factors.

In conclusion, William Faulkner displays self-centered actions, selfless actions, and actions dedicated for unidentified reasons to discuss the real motives and nature of specific characters in the book. The novel focuses on Addie’s death dream, however even she lived a life filled with lies and solitude. Cash, Gem, and Darl are among those who show their love for others through their actions. Other characters, such as the greedy Anse, show the self-centered side of their personality through their motives for the journey. A number of supporting characters also commit actions for unidentified and unneeded reasons such as Cora Tull and Whitfield. As I Lay Passing away offers a great summary of the principles of greediness and unselfishness, while demonstrating how these principles can genuinely affect individuals’ lives.

Functions Mentioned

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“As I Lay Perishing: Essay Q&A.” Novelguide. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2016. Flower, Harold. ed. William Faulkner: Modern Vital View. New York City: Chelsea Street, 1986.

Dudek, HanaRae. “Family in As I Lay Passing away.” McClinton-Temple, Jennifer ed. Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature. New York City: Infobase Publishing, 2011. Bloom’s Literature. Facts On File, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2016 Fargnoli, Nicholas A., Michael Golay, and Robert W. Hamblin. “As I Lay Dying.” Critical Buddy to William Faulkner: A Literary Recommendation to His Life and Work, Vital Companion. New York: Realities On File, Inc., 2008. Flower’s Literature. Realities On File, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2016 Faulkner, William. As I Lay Passing away. Guernsey, UK: Vintage, 1996.

“Faulkner’s As I Lay Perishing: Kind of a Funeral|EDSITEment.” Faulkner’s As I Lay Perishing: Form of a Funeral|EDSITEment. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 May 2016.

Padgett, John B. “As I Lay Dying.” In Anderson, George P., Judith S. Baughman, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Carl Rollyson, eds. Encyclopedia of American Literature: Into the Modern: 1896– 1945, Revised Edition, vol. 3. New York: Realities On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom’s Literature. Truths On File, Inc. Web. 11 Apr. 2016

Massacre, Carolyn Norman. “As I Lay Perishing: Death of Vision.” American Literature 61.1 (1989 ): 16. Web.

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