As I Lay Perishing: Freudian Theories of the Bundren Family members
William Faulkner composed As I Lay Dying in 1930, around the moment when the concepts of Sigmund Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, were acquiring popularity. In his tale about the death of a mom, Addie, and also her family’s response and grieving process, Faulkner sticks to much of Freud’s concepts on defense mechanisms. According to Freud, “Difficulties from the external atmosphere and from our internal urges intimidate us with stress and anxiety … The procedure that the vanity (subconscious mind) utilizes to distort reality to secure itself are called defense mechanisms” (Friedman 39).
The family’s lack of a mourning procedure, obsession over hiding Addie in Jefferson, and wish to obtain materialistic products all exhibit Freud’s defense mechanisms. Faulkner shows Freud’s theories of reaction development, rationalization, variation, and sublimation via the response to Addie’s death as well as her family’s grieving procedure. Whitfield is the community priest that has an event with Addie, which results in his bastard child, Gem. Whitfield exhibits Freud’s concept of response development, a “defense reaction that presses away threatening impulses by overstating the contrary in one’s ideas as well as actions” (Friedman 41).
Whitfield knew he was dedicating a sin by having an affair, as adultery is plainly scorned in the scriptures, however he maintained it secret as well as remained to preach the holy bible. When Whitfield listens to that Addie is ill he confesses that he “woke to the enormity of my wrong; I saw truth light at last, and also I dropped on my knees and also admitted to God as well as asked His advice as well as got it” (Faulkner 177). Whitfield clarifies that God informed him to “fix to that home in which you have actually put a living lie … confess your sin aloud. Nonetheless, by the time Whitfield got to the Bundrens’ residence Addie had actually already died and Whitfield made the decision to maintain his secret, which is an additional act versus the scriptures due to the fact that the holy bible educates that one need to confess his sins. In his last act of response formation Whitfield states a petition as he leaves the Bundren home “God’s elegance upon this house” (Faulkner 179). The act of continuing to preach although Whitfield himself has sinned suggests a defense reaction according to Freudian theory. Another facet of Freud’s defense reaction that Faulkner utilizes in his book is making use of rationalization.
There are several circumstances throughout the Bundrens’ trip where they act crazily to satisfy Addie’s wish of being buried in Jefferson. According to Freud “rationalization is a system entailing post hoc logical explanations for habits that were really driven by inner unconscious objectives” (Friedman 49). The Bundrens did not also begin their trip to Jefferson up until 10 days after Addie had actually died. The trip to Jefferson itself was unreasonable for the Bundrens to finish. Jefferson is away, the bridge to arrive was swamped, and they are a poor family that should rely on others to aid them along their journey.
While Anse, Addie’s other half, does not seem mourning as well as does not state Addie’s fatality, we learn that “his mind is set on taking her to Jefferson,” despite cautions of rain and a swamped bridge (Faulkner 86). After waiting 10 days to begin the treacherous journey, the Bundrens still rationalized going to Jefferson to hide Addie. Tull discusses that Anse “promised her” that she might be buried there which “she wanted it. She originate from there. Her mind was established on it” (Faulkner 89). While it appears logical that a man would intend to satisfy his partner’s dying desire, the problems of getting to Jefferson are beyond unreasonable.
Once they finally reach Jefferson it becomes clear that Anse was rationalizing the trip to Jefferson as a way to get brand-new teeth and also a spouse. He even exposes “currently I can obtain them teeth. That will be a comfort” as a defense reaction towards handling the loss Addie. Anse is making use of Addie’s fatality as an excuse to head to Jefferson as well as get brand-new teeth. Rather than mourn Addie’s fatality and also hide her at her home, the Bundrens internally have problem with the loss of their mom as well as focus their attention on obtaining her to Jefferson so they can go to Jefferson themselves.
In Addie’s final passing away days her boy Cash money invested his time building her casket right outside her home window. According to Freudian concepts Money was displacing his emotions regarding his mommy dying. Displacement is “a defense mechanism in which the target of one’s subconscious anxieties or wishes is changed far from the true reason” (Friedman 47). In this case Cash money’s unconscious fears are of his mothers ailment and also coming close to death and he is moving his emphasis in the direction of constructing her coffin as opposed to spending quality time with her or soothing her. Cash’s obsession with developing the casket proceeds also after Addie ies. Cash money’s very first phase of the novel meticulously provides his thinking over the construction of the casket. He describes “the animal magnetism of a dead body makes the tension come slanting, so the seams and also joints of a coffin are made on the bevel.” While the building of the coffin may be an essential contribution to Addie’s burial, Cash totally consumes himself with thoughts of the coffin instead of mourning his mommy. Another one of Addie’s sons additionally exhibits variation in response to his mother’s death. Vardaman factors that the physician, Peabody, triggered his mom’s death.
Vardaman sobs “he kilt her. He kilt her” yet he displaces his rage in the direction of Peabody’s equines saying loudly “you kilt my maw!” (Faulkner 54). Vardaman strikes the horses with a stick, severely defeating them. Freud would certainly classify this behavior as displacement because Vardaman launches his emotions on innocent equines that can not have actually triggered his mother’s fatality. Among the most popular defense mechanisms that Faulkner shows is the concept of sublimation. Numerous personalities translate Addie’s death into various other obsessions such as getting new product items or meeting personal gains.
The Bundrens as a family members focus on bringing her body to Jefferson, Anse wants brand-new teeth, Money wants a gramophone, Dewey Dell wants an abortion, as well as Jewel’s love for his steed. According to Freudian concept “sublimation is the transforming of unacceptable advises into favorable, socially acceptable motivations” (Friedman 48). Faulkner utilizes sublimation in his personality’s lack of grieving their loss and also translation of the fear of their loss towards something less significant but concrete. Throughout the novel Dewey Dell conveys her stress and anxiety over her maternity.
She also admits “when mother died I needed to go past and also beyond me and Lafe as well as Darl to regret since he can do so much for me and he do not know it” (Faulkner 59). Dewey Dell is incapable to focus on anything, including her mom’s fatality, because of her pregnancy as well as obsession over locating a means to abort her infant. In this flow she concerns Peabody’s capability to aid her with the abortion. When they lastly get to Jefferson Dewey Dell quickly locates a medical professional to do her abortion. She frantically discusses to the drugstore clerk “it’s the women difficulty … I obtained the money” (Faulkner 243).
The Bundren family sublimates the loss of Addie by completing a hazardous and stressful journey to provide Addie’s desire of being buried in Jefferson. However, when the Bundrens reach Jefferson it comes to be clear that they had ulterior, and egocentric individual objectives for reaching Jefferson. When the treacherous trip to bury Addie is lastly completed Anse sublimates his relationship with Addie and also her loss by acquiring brand-new teeth and also getting a brand-new better half. Cash informs his new partner, “it’s Cash and Jewel as well as Vardaman and Dewey Dell,’ states, kind of hangdog and pleased too, with his teeth and also all, also if he wouldn’t look at us. Meet Mrs Bundren,’ he claims,” (Faulkner 261). Anse swiftly changes his other half and proceeds his life as if untouched by the loss of Addie. He sublimates his loss with brand-new teeth as well as a new wife. Freudian research studies of the unconscious mind ended up being popular in the 1920s and 1930s when Faulkner was also acquiring popularity as an author. It is possible that Faulkner’s stream of awareness writing was likewise affected by Freud’s concepts of the subconscious mind. While Faulkner supplies comprehensive understanding right into every one of the character’s thoughts as well as feelings, none of the characters appear to be truly mourning the loss of Addie.
Rather, the Bundrens focus their interest towards moving her body to Jefferson, a challenging and also unrealistic task that takes them around twenty days to ultimately bury her. The personalities express several motifs of defense reaction in dealing with their loss. They do not show actual indicators of missing out on Addie or grieving her. Rather they focus their attention on what to do with her body and other apparently important matters. Faulkner was affected by Freud’s suggestions of response formation, rationalization, variation, as well as sublimation as a way for his personalities to handle the loss of their spouse as well as mommy.