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As I Lay Dying: Exploring Identity And Philosophy


The tale of a dysfunctional family members and also its legendary journey throughout the South, William Faulkner’s As I Lay Passing away is famous for its use of multiple storytellers that interpret and recount the journey of the Bundren clan from their own distinct point of views. Every one of the personalities, whether family members or outsiders that encounter them on the way to Jefferson, have their own schedules and also details sights of the globe around them, with each of these viewpoints in some small method contributing to the bigger themes and ideas of Faulkner’s story. This paper will take a look at the approaches of 3 of these personalities in particular– Anse, Cash, and also Darl Bundren– in order to assess how their differing voices, point of views, as well as designs of narration enable Faulkner to check out numerous themes and develop a much more complex novel than would be possible with a single unified storyteller.

As the father as well as plausible leader of the Bundren clan, Anse is the character that relatively appears to be the most bent on getting his better half to Jefferson and hiding her with her family. He appears devoted to recognizing Addie’s last dreams, claiming several times that “I offer her my assurance” due to the fact that her “mind was established on it,” along with being the one who insists that the journey has to be completed asap although that requires making a dangerous river crossing that eliminates his wagon group and hurts Money (114-15, 125-26). However, Anse’s lazy, hypocritical, and also self-interested touch is revealed well before the novel’s shock end: he asserts that “he was unwell as soon as from working in the sunlight when he was twenty-two years of ages” and that if “he ever before sweats, he will certainly pass away,” although that does not stop him from berating Gem for being tired and unsuccessful (17, 130). A firm believer in the sedentary way of life, he also puts the blame for his misfortunes as well as those of his connections on the presence of the road, which he views as an enabler of difficulty:

Durn that roadway … a-laying there, right to my door, where every misfortune that comes and goes is bound to locate it … when He [God] aims for something to be always a-moving, He makes it long ways, like a roadway or an equine or a wagon, yet when He aims for something to stay, He makes it up-and-down ways, like a tree or a man … since if He aimed for male to be constantly a-moving and going somewhere else, would not He a placed him longways on his stubborn belly, like a snake? It stands to reason He would certainly (35-6).

To Anse, life is a series of jobs that need to be finished prior to a male can lastly accomplish his best imagine ending up being completely stationary, whether that be striving as a kid so that he can earn the right to appreciate a relaxed way of life in the adult years or taking a trip down the identical road he knocks in order to locate a partner as well as calm down (11, 171). Anything that disputes with his individual convenience, whether it is the death of his partner or the actions of his children, will trigger him to take action to correct the situation, even at the cost of those he allegedly likes. As an example, in order to spend for the wagon journey, he takes the cash Cash was going to make use of to buy a graphophone (190 ), agrees (without consent) to trade Gem’s steed for a brand-new group of mules (191 ), and also tries to regret Dewey Dell into making her provide him the ten dollars for her abortion, stating:

It’s just a funding. God understands, I despise for my blooden children to oppose me. Yet I give them what was my own without stint. Happy, I give them without job. And currently they refute me. Addie. It was lucky you passed away, Addie (246 ).

As Deborah Chappel keeps in mind, this quote includes several outright lies: “Anse won’t pay back the money, he never ever offered anything unstintingly in his life, as well as … he doesn’t at all mind being reproached” (Chappel, 277). Essentially, he is so successful in achieving his goals in the unique specifically since he is a master manipulator, one that has the ability to manage the various other personalities around him. The continued rep of both expressions “would you resent her?” and “wouldn’t desire us beholden” likewise show his willingness to utilize the memory of his dead better half as an excuse for his activities, whether it is declaring that Gem had “no affection or gentleness for her,” persuading Tull to let him car loan out his mule, or not leaving the damaged Cash in the treatment of Armstid since he wants to do the funeral initially (19, 140, 195). He is even ready to attend to the ultimate aggravation, the lack of a partner, by remarrying right away after the interment, therefore negating the entire psychological impact of the journey to inter Addie (261 ).

By utilizing the petty and weak Anse as a narrator, Faulkner enables the visitor to much better comprehend the mindset of a distinctly Southern archetype, the inadequate white farmer. Anse is the author’s strike on the sort of provincial bumpkin whose close-mindedness and also stupidness had actually kept the South’s condition as a region disconnected from the higher United States and whose aversion to reintegrate right into the nationwide fabric would certainly maintain it by doing this unless as well as until there was a significant modification in attitude. The personality’s focus on inactivity as well as narcissism represents a region-wide malaise as well as reluctance to break with the identity the South had actually fashioned for itself from the post-Civil War period up till the time of Faulkner’s composing in the late 1920s. Anse Bundren is the South at its extremely worst, with him as well as his family members representing the staleness and stagnancy that pestered the area as a result of its self-imposed seclusion.

Unlike Anse, Money is the hardest worker in the household, as well as the just one that has actually managed to find out a trade past mere nutrition farming. Nevertheless, his narratives in the initial fifty percent of guide do not take care of the psychological injury of losing his mom or perhaps give a direct account of the occasions going on around him; rather, they are discussions regarding the engineering principles that entered into creating the coffin. This special ideology makes him the most logical as well as level-headed participant of the Bundren clan, but it also indicates that he does not have the emotional ability to address his mom’s fatality straight– which it is only by focusing his sorrow right into his carpentry that he can truly express himself. When Anse calls him right into your house to educate him of Addie’s fatality, Cash money doesn’t know to respond:

Cash money does not look at him … Cash money does not address … Money overlooks at her face. He is not paying attention to in any way. He does not approach the bed. He drops in the center of the flooring, the saw versus his leg, his sweating arms powdered gently with sawdust, his face composed … After a while he turns without checking out pa as well as leaves the space. After that the saw begins to snore again (50 ).

That he gets in the space caked in sawdust and also carrying a saw shows the midpoint of his profession to Cash money’s identity, that even when faced with personal catastrophe he should view it via the lens of his task in order to truly understand it. Essentially, he can just feel sorry for Addie’s passing away by transforming it into a task including timber, nails, and also devices, which is why promptly after viewing her remains he resumes sawing the slabs for the production of the coffin. Therefore, this coffin ends up being a physical manifestation of his sorrow and also emotionality, therefore discussing why he becomes so stressed concerning making every little thing concerning it as best as possible. Added time is purchased beveling it in spite of the torrential rainstorm he should overcome (79 ), while he also worries concerning the truth that Addie was laid in the casket in the opposite direction where he meant, stating “I made it to stabilize with her. I made it to her procedure as well as weight” (90 ). His consistent repeating of the admonition that “it is not on a balance” is more than a logistical worry; instead, it is him sharing a worry regarding the safety and security of his beloved mommy and also the wooden tribute he has actually made to her life.

An additional interesting element of Cash money’s personality is his need for the devices of his trade: when the family wagon is struck by a log and also capsizes in the middle of the river, he is knocked unconscious at precisely the same time as he loses them. According to Tim Poland, “with the close to loss of his tools comes the close to loss of Cash’s identity, the rare, relative identity that is the primary asset in which the Bundren family members trades” (Poland, 118). Without his tools, Cash money loses his specifying feature as well as the items that make him an energetic component of the story, the outcome of which delegates him to the condition of a secondary character who can just hinge on the back of the wagon together with the deteriorating remains in the coffin he himself developed. It is only when they are recovered from the water that he goes back to consciousness, yet with a “newly found recognition of the relativity of that identity and also exactly how deeply it is rooted in his function as a carpenter” that triggers him to “reassess his own identification … and also the delicate truth of all identity” (Poland, 119). This new Cash is a much more well balanced and also detailed author, with the ability of recounting events with a more advanced degree of assumption than the formulaic listings he supplied in his very early chapters. He additionally takes control of the function of a lot of skilled narrator from Darl, who appears to descend into inanity at specifically the same minute that Cash money reappears with his (actually) retooled understanding of the globe. Although his phases lack the extensive understanding that Darl’s offer, Cash’s later accounts are much more rational and reasonable than any various other member of the family’s as much as that factor, which is why Faulkner has him state the ultimate paradoxical shock of his dad’s hasty remarriage. By having the most sensible personality define these final events, the feeling of anti-climax is multiplied and additional emphasizes just how pointless the family’s impressive journey actually was.

Unlike the rest of the Bundrens, Darl is in some means detached from the others both in regards to identification as well as location, having in fact left the South to offer in France throughout World War. Consequently, his narrations are one of the most complicated and also intellectually abundant, and he even possesses the capability to describe events, such as Cash money constructing the coffin, that are transpiring while he is literally in an additional place (75-81). This abstract distinction he has, which in some way divides him from his various other family members, often tends to agitate people like Vernon Tull, that explains him as “queer”:

He is considering me. He do not say nothing; simply considers me with them queer eyes of his that makes individuals talk. I constantly state it aint never been what he done so much or claimed anything so much as exactly how he considers you. It resembles he has got inside of you, someway” (125 ).

As an outcome of his distinct capability to peer into individuals’s minds and witness process that he is not tangibly a component of, Darl’s approach is extremely linked with concepts of identification and self-perception, both his very own and also others. When Vardaman asks him where his mother is, Darl replies, “I haven’t obtained ere one … Because if I had one, it is was. And if it is was, it can not be is. Can it?” (101 ). Making use of the past and existing forms of “is” suggests that Darl specifies presence based upon an advanced degree than the remainder of his family, that still refer to Addie’s corpse as “her” even though she has actually currently died. He is aware of the divide that fatality produces between being and also not-being that renders Addie’s identity right into something various from what it once was, equally as he is a lot more perceptive than the various other Bundrens in his very own self-characterizations. His alternating uses of the initial and third individuals to describe himself are depictive of Darl’s inherent knowledge about things he actually need to not be privy to, whether that be Dewey Dell’s tryst, Gem’s illegitimate standing, and even his very own existence. Darl somehow recognizes that he is being observed and adhered to by some outdoors source (the reader), which this changing of viewpoint in between his very own personal “I” as well as the outsider’s “He” shows his recognition of this scenario. He is observant of the fact that he participates in a tale and that this understanding separates him both from the other characters– who consider him “queer” as a result of the special information he has– yet likewise from the audience, of whom he remains in some part mindful even though he can not completely reach them; he understands that he still belongs on the planet of the story. This suggestion is substantiated by the lack of any type of genuine connections he has with various other figures in the novel, be it within the family members or in the larger circle of the Bundrens’ neighbors as well as acquaintances. Jewel curses him frequently, Anse ends up being dismayed over his choice to make an added $3 while Addie is passing away, Dewey Dell informs the cops regarding his barn arson, as well as even Cash has no problem with sending him to a mental establishment, stating that it would certainly be a “much better” circumstance for him (17, 237-38). In this sense, Darl is a representation of Faulkner himself: his extensive declarations, narrative voice, as well as consciousness of the world around him all come from the author who is relaying them with a source within the tale itself.

By analyzing the differing philosophies existing in the phases described by Anse, Money, and Darl Bundren, three of the main storytellers in the unique, it is feasible to map exactly how these varying voices make it possible for Faulker to fully emphasize numerous different facets as well as themes in the book. With his unfaltering idea in remaining sedentary and also his unscrupulous individuality, Anse represents the zealously backward Southerners that accept their area’s standing as a backwater and also who decline to reintegrate into the remainder of the country with a practically inbred sense of stodginess. On the other hand, the workmanlike and analytical Money sees the globe with the lens of his career, also to the point where he is unable of revealing feeling unless he materializes it in his woodworking. Nonetheless, the shock of shedding his devices– and also by extension his identification– forces him to undertake an emotional as well as intellectual transformation that turns him right into an extra balanced, likeable historian, making him the suitable option to deliver the best paradoxical spin that ends the tale. Lastly, the most prominent figure in the book is Darl, who, with his special capability to peer right into the psyches of others and observe events far away from his present area, is much more aware of the gradations of identity that exist than are the other figures in the book, also to the factor where he is capable of acknowledging the multiple perspectives where his very own life is being watched. His ideological background is reminiscent of Faulkner himself, and also by utilizing it in tandem with Anse as well as Money (as well as every other audio speaker in guide), the author has actually modified the kind of the unique to give it higher intricacy also the ability to check out more concepts and also styles than would certainly be possible with just one storyteller. By emphasizing these numerous viewpoints as well as the method which they influence the method which the personalities that stick to them watch the globe, Faulkner is reflecting on the fundamental absence of an objective fact at the heart of the book. Every one of his characters is an unstable storyteller with his/her very own separately twisted and also skewed take on life. The result of those viewpoints eventually leads visitors to question what they truly do and do not know regarding the events taking place in the story.


Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. Modern Collection Edition. Modern Collection, 2008. Publish.

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