Monday, March 14, 2011

As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

As I Lay Dying, by William Faulkner is the story of the journey to fulfill a mother and wife’s wish: to be buried next to her father in her home town. Faulkner wrote the story of the Bundren family in the perspective of multiple characters, from neighbors to family members to even the dead mother herself. It is a difficult read due to the fact that it is not a typical narrative; it is written in stream of consciousness writing. This simply means the characters are literally speaking their mind, leaving no thought unaccounted for. As the family takes the journey to bury Addie, each character’s reaction to her death is addressed. Her children, Cash, Darl, Dewey Dell, Vardaman, and Jewel, as well as her husband, Anse, react differently to her death.
Anse was always a self-centered, lazy husband. He even claims he cannot sweat because if he does, he will die. This prevents him from doing any labor, especially in the sun. When Addie learned of her second pregnancy with Darl, she asked Anse to take her to Jefferson, her home town, to be buried with her father once she died. This was one of the only things he ever did for his wife.
Jewel is the driving force behind the trip. His mother loved him a lot, even though he is an illegitimate child. Jewel loves Addie and speaks his love for his mother through actions. He seems to have a lot of trouble with Darl as a reaction to his mother’s death.
Darl, on the other hand, seems to have gotten no love from his mother. He also believes that he doesn’t truly exist. He reasons that Jewel exists and they have the same mother; therefore, he must exist as well. He spends a lot of the trip trying to get into Jewel’s mind because, if he succeeds, he must then exist since Jewel does. He bothers Jewel a lot and is basically the saboteur of the trip.
Dewey Dell must cope with now being the only girl in the family of five boys. On top of this, she also struggles with being pregnant at the age of seventeen. She does her best to hide it from her family and tries to get an abortion on two occasions when they get into town. Cash, the oldest, seems to throw himself into his work due to his mother’s death. He does a lot of carpentry, including building Addie’s coffin. Vardaman, the youngest by many years, really doesn’t understand much of what is going on. One day, he sees a dead fish and therefore deduces that his “…mother is a fish” (84). Also, because he is so young, he believes there should be holes in his mother’s coffin so she can breathe.
The Bundren family struggles over the course of the ten day trip to Jefferson to bury Addie. They stay overnight at friends’ houses and even get aggravated with each other. They lose their mules to drowning and Jewel sells his beloved horse to obtain more mules. By the end of the novel, they reach Jefferson and I saw no indication of the burial of Addie. The book ends with Anse leaving his family and coming back with a new wife as well as new teeth for himself.

Questions:
1) Everyone in the Bundren family reacts differently to Addie’s death. How would you feel/react if one of your parents, or a loved one, passed away? How would this differ from your sibling’s, or friend’s, reactions?
2) Brothers Darl and Jewel have a lot of tension between them due to how their mother views them. Do you have any tension with your siblings or friends that is difficult to deal with?
3) Dewey Dell is pregnant at the age of seventeen and doesn’t know what to do. She tries to hide this from her family and deal with it on her own. Have you ever had a problem that was difficult for you to deal with on your own? What did you do?

12 comments:

Deanna K 5-6 said...

1) I would definitely feel terrible if i lost someone that was close to me. I don't believe it would differ from my sibling's, friend's, etc reaction. Everyone feels a sense of loss when someone close to them dies.

2) Of course. Everyone has different personalities and eventually you won't always agree with someone.

3) Yes, similar to the previous question, this true for everyone. Normally, i go to someone close to e and explain my situation and try and get advice from them whenever I have a problem too difficult to deal with on my own.

Matt P. 13-14 said...

1. I think at first I would not be able to accept the fact that I had lost that person. After seeing that they truly were gone,I would feel awful. I think that the reaction would not differ from those of others who knew the person, because everyone would be feeling the sense of loss and sadness.

Kelsey M. 11/12 said...

I have come very close to losing both of my parents, and I honestly do not know what I would do. I have also seen friends and family members lose their parents. It is never easy to lose someone, and I do not think that the pain ever goes away. Time goes on, but you are always reminded of the person that died. I think my brother would be just as devastated if one of my parents died. My friends would obviously not be as hurt, but they would be there for me. Sometimes seeing people you care about in pain is just as bad as actually having it happen to you though.

Kelsey M. 13-14 said...

1. I think that people all react differently to a loved on passing away. Some people cry and others hod it in. I think most people are deeply sad but the way they deal with the pain is different.

Emily C. 13-14 said...

2. There always is some sort of argueing between me and my siblings but it is always over stupid things that we get over quickly. I dont think there is really anything that we can not deal with unless something extreme happens

Megan D. 11-12 said...

2) There is a little tension between my siblings and me, but that is only natural. You never like being around someone one hundred percent of the time and you live with your siblings. Its only natural that there would be tension between individuals who spend a lot of time together, especially if their is a big age difference, as there is in my family. When it becomes too difficult to deal with, both people just need to take a breather and calm down.

Leah A 5-6 said...

1. If a loved one passed away, I would feel broken and sad. It would be hard to accept the fact that someone that I truly cared about passed away. Everyone copes with death differently. Some people get sad, some people avoid it, and some try to cope with humor.

Cassie M 11-12 said...

3. Yes i have had problems that were difficult to handle on my own. For the longest time, I tried to deal with them by myself; I felt like I would be complaining if I told someone else about it. I felt like I should be able to do everything alone and would be weak if I couldn't handle it. Now, I see that asking friends and family for help is not a weakness, it is a strength. People that really care will always be willing to help, and they won't think any less of you.

tyler k 13-14 said...

Fortunately, I have never had rival tension with siblings or friends outside of sport since I try to make modesty my prodominate trait in my personality.

Steve S 13-14 said...

I know that if one of my family members were to pass away, my sister and I would both go through a very similar grieving process.

My sister and I do not share much tension, but I see a lot of tension between my sister and mom that is very difficult to deal with

Courtney R 5-6 said...

1) I agree with you guys when you say that everyone feels a sense of loss when losing someone, or when they have lost someone. I do believe that different people have different ways of coping with loss.

2) I agree with Deanna when she says that everyone has some sort of tension between people. Everyone probably deals with it differently, whether they hold it in or speak their mind.

3) I think that it all depends on the problem I'm having. Sometimes I hold a lot of things in and convince myself that I don't need to talk to anyone about it. But, on the other hand, sometimes it is good to talk to others if you have a problem.

Mrs. Sherwood said...

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