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Reality From A Subjective Point Of View In As I Lay Dying


“It resembles it aint so much what a fellow does, but it the way most of folks is looking at him when he does it,” (Faulkner, 233). In William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, an obvious discrepancy exists in between death and birth and in between words and thoughts that ultimately changes the method occasions are perceived. Peabody articulates that death does not take any one type however rather takes different kinds based on different point of views. He says, “I can remember how when I was young I thought death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be simply a function of the mind,” (44 ). This forms the approach that seemingly concrete events like birth, death and the life in between are not absolute at all. Rather feelings form them into special events which differ from individual to individual. Through the insights of his characters Faulkner also seems to recommend that words do not imply the very same thing to everybody. Rather each person’s special understandings give different meaning to the exact same words. This is another method which reality, in this case the reality of language, differs. Ultimately, through several contradictions, through the primacy of the private and through a divergence from expected psychological reactions, Faulkner relates his theory that truth is indefinite which private understandings and feelings, not merely realities, shape truth.

Faulkner uses his characters as vehicles to express the belief that reality and occasions are indefinite and are formed based upon emotions and specific viewpoints as much as on real realities. Faulkner develops this style mostly around Darl’s presumed madness and the varying reactions to it. Darl has an extraordinary capability to sense his brother or sisters’ personal feelings and to take on their characters. Therefore, his response to his own madness strangely imitates the responses of his brother or sisters. In his last appearance he announces, “Darl is our brother, our bro Darl. Our bro Darl in a cage in Jackson where, his grimed hands lying light in the peaceful interstices, looking out he lathers. ‘Yes yes yes,'” (254 ). Having a jarringly comparable reaction, Vardaman represents the impressionable masses of society as a whole. Young and innocent, Vardaman has no strong viewpoints of his own but rather handles the viewpoints of the bulk around him. Vardaman views Darl’s madness in a lot more black and white manner. He specifies quite simply; “Darl is my bro. Darl went nuts,” (250 ). This depends on direct contrast to Money’s much more philosophical response. For it stays Money who asserts most lucidly that, “It’s like it aint so much what a fellow does, however it’s in the way the majority of folk is looking at him when he does it,” (233 ). He also declares that, “Sometimes I aint so sho’ who’s got ere a right to state when a guy is insane and when he aint. In some cases I think it aint none people pure crazy and aint none of us pure sane till the balance people talk him that-a-way,” (233 ). Hence, he summarizes Faulkner’s belief that reality, in this case the reality of Darl’s madness, is just reality if one’s understandings deem it so. Otherwise truth ends up being total falsity. Jewel when again stands apart from the rest of the family. He feels little regret, sorrow or regret for Darl’s virtual imprisonment, saying to Darl straightforwardly, “You goddamn lying kid of a bitch,” (213 ). These widely differing responses to Darl’s madness show that truth maintains no definite kind but rather differs based upon each person’s emotions or perceptions.

Words, as utilized in As I Lay Perishing, do not often properly reflect the impressions or the implications that the character tries to convey through them. Hence, the perceived precision of words reduces and reality ends up being more abstract. Words are definite in their tangible kind. However, words obtain meaning just through the personal undertones that are attached to them. As Addie states, “That was when I learned that words are no excellent; that words don’t ever fit even what they are trying to state at,” (171 ). Interaction in between the characters appears most effective when words are not utilized at all, even more highlighting the ineffectiveness of words. For instance, during the discussion between Dewey Dell and Darl regarding her pregnancy, words are never spoken aloud. This nonverbal conversation not just appears more effective in communicating its significance but Dewey Dell likewise reveals that had it been spoken aloud, she would not have actually thought it. This again recommends the fallibility of words. Dewey Dell articulates, “It was then, and then I saw Darl and he understood. He stated he understood without words … and I understood he knew since if he had said he knew with the words I would not have actually thought that he had existed and saw us,” (27 ). This apparent ineffectiveness of words forces the reader to observe the uncertainty of occasions in life; occasions which are based upon specific reactions to a circumstance instead of an accurate meaning.

Each character’s different reaction to Addie’s death illustrates Faulkner’s idea of the primacy of the person. Their words reflect various reactions hence showing that similar words and comparable events have really diverse connotations. Vardaman’s inability to manage the reality of Addie’s death underscores his childish, typically naive response, to several events. His reaction seems to be the one that is one of the most out of touch with true truth. He mumbles, “My mom is a fish,” (84) and, “It is cut up into pieces of not-fish now, not-blood on my hands and overalls,” (53 ). He likewise responds by denying the physical death of his mother by asserting, “My mom is not in the box. My mother does not smell like that. My mom is a fish,” (196 ). While this appears ridiculous, its clarity appears if one observes it in a more philosophical manner. Certainly, Addie does not depend on package, however rather only her body depends on package. The real individual, her spirit, swam away down the river. He can not accept truth and therefore his fantasy becomes his reality. He truly believes that his mother is a fish and hence concerns, “Where is ma Darl? … You never ever got her. You know she is a fish but you let her get away,” (151 ). Darl’s response to Addie’s death depends on plain contrast to Vardaman’s when he asserts that, “Addie Bundren will not be. And Jewel is, so Addie Bundren must be. And after that I should be, or I could not clear myself for sleep in a weird room. Therefore if I am not emptied yet, I am is,” (81 ). Vardaman’s response seems far more philosophical and his reaction stays internalized. His failure to express his sensations in words enhances the primacy of the internal individual as opposed to the physical world. Anse reacts by rejecting her illness altogether when he states, “You lay you down and rest you, … I knowed you are not ill. You are just worn out,” (37 ). Finally, Cash has the most physical reaction to Addie’s death. He focuses specifically on earthly concerns such as his tools and on the mechanics of making the casket. Money continues to describe the building and construction of the casket, the physical method which he dealt with Addie’s death. He declares, “I made it on a bevel … It makes a neater task,” (82-3). He is the only one of the three sons who does not associate Addie with a fictional entity or animal. Darl associates Addie with “is was” (101) and he associates Jewel’s mother with “a horse” (101 ). Lastly, Vardaman associates Addie with “a fish,” (84 ). Money never enters this discussion and hence appears more in touch with truth than the other characters. These significantly different responses highlight the primacy of the individual over one singular truth through complex reactions to the exact same occasion.

The uncertainty of truth and the varying views of one occasion surfaces again in the notorious river crossing scene. The even-keeled Tull sets out the realities quite just, specifying, “… Darl leapt out of the wagon and left Cash sitting there attempting to wait … the mules finally kicked it loose, it searched for a minute like possibly Cash would get the wagon back,” (152-4). He plays the function of the omniscient narrator, relating the story just utilizing the realities. This functions as a referral point for the narrations of the other characters, which are filled with feeling and discontinuity. The various characters’ accounts of the river crossing reflect the very same feelings that each character feels towards Addie’s death. Vardaman, the character least in touch with reality, continues to be unable to different himself from the idea of his mom existing still as a fish. He remains focused upon the idea that Addie continues to live on Earth in a fish’s body. Money focuses totally on earthly things like the casket saying, “It wasn’t on balance. I told them that if they wanted it to lug and ride on a balance they would have to,” (165 ). Lastly, Darl appears to take on the feelings of each character. He seems slow to act and deliberate in his movements which reflects his response to Addie’s death, slow to accept her death and deliberate in overcoming it. The different accounts of the river crossing show the possibility of varying views of one occasion, therefore making the presence of a singular reality problematic.

A divergence from the typical feelings connected with birth exists. Social norms determine that a birth is a happy event. However, Addie and Dewey Dell display a divergence from reality due to the fact that they feel that their aloneness has actually been breached by their unexpected pregnancies. Therefore they feel anger instead of joy. Cora represents the normal, societal stereotype when she highlights, “God offered you kids to comfort your human lot and for a token of His own suffering and love, for in love you conceived and bore them,” (166 ). Directly after Cora’s remarks come Addie and Dewey Dell’s beliefs of anger towards their children. Their remarks belie the traditional stereotypes of birth since of their past experiences and current scenario. The pregnancy breaks her aloneness in Dewey Dell’s mind and she laments, “It’s since I am alone. If I might simply feel it, it would be different, due to the fact that I would not be alone. However if I were not alone, everyone would understand … Then I might be all right alone,” (59 ). Addie’s sensations of offense and anger mirror those of Dewey Dell. She affirms that, “When he was born I knew that motherhood was developed by somebody who had to have a word for it due to the fact that the one that had the kids didn’t care whether there was a word for it or not,” (172 ). Her anger also resurfaces when she laments, “I knew that it had actually been, not that my aloneness had to be broken up until Money came,” (172 ). Dewey Dell’s and Addie’s divergence from the regular beliefs of pleasure and joyfulness towards birth represents a further reflection of Faulkner’s viewpoint that perceptions and emotions shape occasions in life.

William Faulkner, in his novel As I Lay Passing away expresses his belief that hugely various ideas, perceptions and feelings shape life and make it indefinite. His characters all supply different accounts of the same standard occasion. Eventually, the reader understands that a relatively concrete occasion is not concrete at all but rather fluid and ever altering due to the differing perceptions of the characters included. Through Addie Bundren’s statement, “That was when I found out that words are no excellent; that words do not ever fit even what they are trying to say at,” (171 ), Faulkner also asserts that words have no significance in their tangible, certain kind but that personal feelings, understandings, and experiences give them meaning. Even still, words remain indefinite and ever-changing in their meaning. Faulkner appears to stress the value of open-mindedness by highlighting the complex descriptions of one, particular event. He seems to state that it is impossible to specify life or reality because each human being defines it for himself. Faulkner indicates that a man needs to keep an open mind and willingly accept all points of view. Eventually, one realizes that the novel attempts to impart to the reader the belief that life is not concrete. Varying individual viewpoints, irregular responses to occasions and private primacy shape reality. Therefore nobody reality exists but rather true reality is relative. As Peabody so lucidly asserts, reality, like death, is “… merely a function of the mind,” (44 ).

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