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Subjective Interpretations In As I Lay Dying


One of the central thematic elements of As I Lay Dying is the distinction between fact and analysis of fact. Clearly, any unbiased fact can result in a wide range of subjective interpretations due to the fact that the characters all have individual perspectives. Their perspectives of any empirical reality depends upon their bias and understandings; as a result, absolutely nothing that is said can be fully trusted or presumed to be pure in its objective reality. Though the novel is structured on the basis of the truth that each character experiences the very same events, they all differ in their analyses and point of views. Given that each character has a point of view that the reader can not know for sure is completely accurate and honest, the style of As I Lay Passing away may be that there is no such thing as unbiased reality.

To raise this concern of truth, William Faulkner presents 2 literary strategies in As I Lay Passing away that draw into concern the validity of the details being supplied. Faulkner not only engages in the use of a wide variety of narrators, however he also uses stream-of-consciousness to heighten the failure to compare reality and interpretation. The method of stream-of-consciousness allows for narrative to be introduced as if the ideas are being read as the characters are believing them; ideas and memories emerge without premeditation and as such bear the mark of immediacy. In addition, because it is the character’s ideas rather than dialogue with another, the very first impulse is to believe them, because ideas are normally unfiltered.

Using stream-of-consciousness likewise serves to obscure the journey toward discovering an unbiased truth. For example, Cora Tull’s point of view on the relationship between Addie and Darl or Addie and Gem is significantly dissimilar than the perspectives of those characters, themselves. Therefore, any apparently unbiased reality that exists in any scenario can not necessarily be discovered in just one specific point of view. Another instance of this shifting viewpoint remains in how Jewel and Peabody consider Addy in terms of being victimized, where as Anse clings to his truth that locations him as a victim.

Another strategy that Faulkner utilizes is to structure the novel in the form of disconnected monologues. For example, consider the problem of building a precise timeline of events from the monologue in which Dewey Dell faces off with Vardman in the shed. Faulkner composes: “”You durn little sneak!” My hands shake him, hard. Perhaps I couldn’t stop them. I didn’t understand they might shake so hard. They shake both of us, shaking. “I never ever done it,” he says. “I never ever touched them””(Faulkner 383). Both characters insist and think in their own innocence, but clearly both can not be innocent. In addition, they are each so involved firmly insisting upon their variation of the story that the series of the real circumstances is puzzled within their own consciousness. Dewey Dell believed that Vardaman was covertly viewing her, whereas Vardaman labored under the impression that Dewey Dell was going to tell him off. The outcome is a mixing of the past and today and the inability to come to anything even close to an objective reality. In another circumstances, the reality of exactly what was happening in between Cora and Darl remains forever secured secret because the point of views presented are inconsistent. As Faulkner writes, “He did not address. He simply stood and looked at his passing away mom, his heart too complete for words” (Faulkner 355). Cora views Darl through the rosy lens of being a loving mom; she also thinks he is Addie’s preferred. From Darl’s perspective, however, he appears to be completely unresponsive to his mom and the three dollar load. In addition, the majority of the others believe that it is Gem who is the preferred. This utter disconnect serves to call into question the dependability of the narrators.

What the characters think and which words they speak, meanwhile, develop a foundation upon which to build yet another subjective truth: the reader’s. Faulkner also constructs the reader’s sense of his or her own, private viewpoint by utilizing figurative language in explaining surroundings and characters. Characters typically turn to using metaphors and similes in addition to other stylistic turns of expression. For instance, when Darl seeks to incite Dewey Dell, his attempt is not explicit. Rather, it is accomplished through making use of double entendres. The double entendre is a microcosm of the moving realities of the story: The expressions have factual significance, but can be interpreted in different methods. For instance, Darl remarks, “Those cakes will remain in fine shape by the time we get to Jefferson” (Faulkner 483). “Cakes” functions as a metaphor for Dewey’s pregnancy. It is Darl, in particular, who uses these descriptive flourishes in his narrative; his skill triggers some to consider him odd. Thus, Faulkner utilizes word choice not just to allude to the shifting realities of the novel, but, also, to mark the differences in between the characters.

The distinct language utilized by characters in the novel typically is a revelation more extensive than the textual material of their narratives. Undoubtedly, the words that each character speaks provide the only real insights into the objective reality of the novel. For instance, there are Tull’s several references to faith and scripture. It is very important in comprehending her to pay attention not only to the reality that she is referencing spiritual iconography, however to how she makes those referrals. Her manner is to voice them nearly like a kid would repeat a catechism he does not fully understand. It becomes apparent that Tull herself does not fully comprehend the profundity of the faith she clings to. Neither does she seem to totally comprehend what is taking place amongst her household. In contrast, Jewel frequently uses profane language and speaks quite insensitively, and his fast temper is mirrored by the violence of his language.

The Bundren household can not settle on an unbiased truth because they make little attempt at coming to any real understanding of each other. Simply as the novel is a collection of individual narratives and memories, the Bundren family refuses to be a cohesive unit; they are merely a set of disconnected people who happen to share a common origins. The great irony is that what appears to at last cause their unity is not a celebration of life, but an event of death. Yet even this effort at a last reconciliation is only rare, as each relative has their own personal and private inspirations that they refuse to share with each other. Generally, in reality, they appear to be callously overlooking the fact that Addy is simply a decomposing remains. In maybe the most perverse reversal of subjective reality, some of them are repulsed by the smell of death– yet the buzzards flying overhead are drawn to the scene precisely for that stench. Objective truth is simply the outcome of extremely personal subjectivity; what is dreadful to one person will be appealing to another.

Hence, As I Lay Dying presents even the dead member of its cast of characters in a subjective light by questioning whether objective truth can exist. Addie’s real qualities as a human being remain a mystery; some might view her as a character treading in the icy waters of evil, while others might get to the conclusion that she is the only character worthwhile of any adoration. The multiple perspectives and the stream-of-consciousness technique all develop a work that is purposely subject to interpretation. There is no objective reality to the novel anymore than there is any unbiased truth to the events that happen within it. Faulkner’s engagement of multiple narratives also serves to end up being a filter that is essential for figuring out lies and opinions from accurate events. The outcome is naturally upsetting and complicated– but, as Faulkner desires to make people ask difficult questions about the nature of reality and the search for an objective truth, that is exactly his intent.

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