As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Paragraph V: Examination However my mother is a fish. Vernon seen it. He existed. “Jewel’s mother is a horse,” Darl said. “Then mine can be a fish, can’t it, Darl?” I said. Gem is my bro. “Then mine will need to be a horse, too,” I stated. “Why?” Darl stated. “If pa is your pa, why does your ma have to be a horse just because Jewel’s is? “Why does it?” I stated. “Why does it, Darl?” Darl is my bro. “Then what is your ma, Darl?” I said. “I have not got ere one,” Darl stated. “Because if I had one, it is was.
And if it is was, it can’t be is. Can it?” “No,” I said. “Then I am not,” Darl said. “Am I?” “No,” I stated. I am. Darl is my bro. “But you are, Darl,” I said. “I understand it,” Darl stated. “That’s why I am not is. Are is a lot of for one female to foal.” (Faulker 101) The unique As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, had lots of intriguing paragraphs that catches the readers eye. Nevertheless, the above paragraph in between Vardaman and Darl discussing the matters of death and existence stops the reader and needs attention.
The above paragraph is a narrative paragraph. Vardaman’s association of his mom’s death with the fish’s death at first appears to be a childish, illogical connection. This association, in addition to Darl’s linking of the question of presence to a matter of “was” versus “is,” enables these two uneducated characters to take on the highly complicated matters of death and presence. The bizarre nature of this exchange highlights the Bundrens’ inability to handle Addie’s death in a more logical way.
For Darl, language has a peculiar control over Addie’s presence: he believes that she can not be an “is,” or a thing that continues to exist, since she is a “was,” or a thing that no longer exists. For Vardaman, objects that resemble each other become interchangeable: he assigns the function of his mother to the fish, for instance, due to the fact that the fish is dead, like Addie. These rather rational actions to Addie’s death show that Darl and Vardaman, like the rest of their family, are unable to have a healthy emotional action to death.