Experiencing Salvation in As I Lay Dying ENGLISH 215 October 31, 2011 William Faulkner’s As I Lay Passing away centers on the unreasonable journey that the Bundren household requires to Jefferson to bury their dead mother, Addie. Faulkner frames this journey through the lens of different storytellers with a specific concentrate on the characters’ inner ideas and deep interior monologues. Although the book’s plot focuses on the Bundren family, characters outside of the family are vital to offer an unbiased view.
Without these outside characters, much of Faulkner’s commentary would be lost.
One of the most important characters beyond the Bundren family is Cora Tull. It is through her character that Faulkner makes his most powerful commentary on the ideas of sin, redemption, and hypocrisy. With the strong paradox that is utilized throughout the novel, Faulkner twists Cora’s relatively perfect moral character and uses her rather as an example of what not to be. Through the juxtaposition of Addie and Cora, Faulkner seeks to highlight spiritual hypocrisy and reveal that Cora’s idea of religious salvation is faulty.
Instead, Faulkner believes (as shown through Addie) that real redemption includes an informed state of self-awareness and concrete understanding of one’s own sin. Religious beliefs is echoed in every facet of Cora’s life. On the surface, she appears to be a warm-hearted Christian spirit, however it ends up being quickly obvious that Cora’s understanding of religious beliefs is manipulated. Cora is constantly seen serving her next-door neighbors however Cora’s charity is not real. She serves not out of love, however to keep up a Christian appearance and get a promised divine reward (23, 93).
When Cora attempts to serve, even her spouse (Vernon Tull) remarks that she tries to “crowd the other folks away and get in closer than anybody else (71 ). “She is extremely worried about the everlasting state of others around her, however once again, her concern is not out of love. Cora mentions that just God can see into the heart (167 ), however in her piety Cora slams others and thinks that they will just be conserved if they adopt her works based religious beliefs.
Cora’s life experiences have actually only increased her desire to serve more dutifully due to the fact that she has earned the respect of others in the community. In this ironic way, Cora’s hypocrisy has actually served her well on this earth. In contrast, Addie’s life experiences have actually formed her into a defiant, unsatisfied and bitter lady. Through Cora’s eyes, Addie is a bad mom and remains in desperate need of repentance. Cora believes that Addie is blind to her own sin and that it is sacrilegious to rely on Jewel rather of turning to God for salvation.
Nevertheless, it is Cora that can not see and passes judgment blindly. Cora does not understand the ramifications behind Addie’s favoritism to Jewel and that the male Cora has put on such a holy pedestal (Minister Whitfield) is in reality a source of Addie’s sin. Cora does not understand that it was Minister Whitfield that wished to cover up the affair and that Addie’s grant remain peaceful ran out love for the brief satisfaction she had found in him– Addie has actually always remained real; she had no desire to be deceitful.
Cora’s misinformed judgments are full of words that “go directly up in a thin line, fast and harmless (173 ).” In Addie’s area in the unique, she explains the scene where Cora desires Addie to hope with her to get a salvation (168, 174). The factor Cora believed that Addie could get salvation by saying a prayer is because Cora’s religion is empty, full of mindless words and “people to whom sin is just a matter of words, to them redemption is just words too (176 ). Cora’s word-oriented spiritual hypocrisy is a direct symptom of Addie’s idea that words do not have meaning and are simply “shape(s) to fill an absence (172 ).” In differentiating the distinctions between Addie and Cora, it is explained who can eventually experience redemption. Although pious Cora may have experienced some worldly success, Faulkner is suggesting that she will never acquire salvation since she is blinded in her hypocrisy and is taken in with task and a works-based faith. Cora knows sin as it can be expressed in words however not in practice.
Addie understands the level of sin since (unlike Cora) she has genuinely experienced it. Although Addie expresses discontent, she is at least familiar with her sin and its relationship to the nature of her being. Faulkner criticizes Cora’s judgmental, insincere, and pious character and instead provides Addie’s self-aware, authentic, and pragmatic understanding as the way to experience sanctification in this life. It is Addie, not Cora, who will receive the benefit of true knowledge and salvation.