As i lay dying character essays


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She knows that she brought her children into the same cycle that she herself is in, and that they too will live empty lives only to die. Dewey Dells situation is an example of how the cycle of existence is perpetuated, even against her will.

As I Lay Dying Read Along Part 1: Pages 1-93 by William Faulkner

She tries to not continue the cycle into the next generation, but the cycle is so powerful that she cannot avoid having the child. Faulkner gives us Dewey Dells point of view, because without it we might not even know that she is pregnant. If the story were told from, say, Cashs point of view, we would have no idea that Dewey Dell wants to go to Jefferson to have an abortion. An omniscient narrator could give us this information about Dewey Dell, but it would not affect us the same way as when it comes directly from her.

By using the first person point of view Faulkner takes us inside the characters minds and makes us a part of their thoughts and actions. Its like Dewey Dell is sharing a part of herself with us. She is sharing her knowledge of the cycle of existence.

She knows that she is alive, but that each step only brings her one step closer to death, and she brings us closer to herself by giving us this knowledge. Dewey Dell embraces the readers in a way that no omniscient narrator could in this story.

As I Lay Dying

Vardaman is too young and inexperienced to fully understand the meaning, or meaninglessness, of life, yet he perfectly describes the motionlessness of the cycle of existence. Life and death are like the horses and buggy individually they move, yet the entire cycle stays motionless in the same place.

The cycle is like the whirling plate that Vardaman describes. It makes things appear to move and change, but in reality everything just stays the same. This whirling and motionless and circling imagery is repeated throughout the book. The flood scene has the whirling yet stationary imagery, and buzzards are constantly circling above Addies coffin. This repeated imagery makes it an important part of the story. The changes that the characters go through really arent changes at all; they are just the next steps in the cycle of existence. Addie dying just finalizes her life. She was moving towards death her entire life, and she finally makes it.

Anse getting a new wife doesnt change anything in the family structure. She is just a replacement of Addie. Everyones life goes on just as it had before, with the exception of Darl, who goes to a mental institution. However, his craziness is not as strange as it first appears. Throughout the entire story Darl is utterly confused about his own identity. He doesnt know who he is, or who he is not. He doesnt understand what his place is in life, and the fact that he goes crazy is simply the next step in his identity crisis.

Again, it is because we are given Darls thoughts that his craziness makes sense to us. We are brought into his confused mind, and so when it finally cracks we understand why. So nobody in the story really changes. They are all in a motionless state of existence, moving slowly towards death. Faulkners use of point of view helps us understand how the characters feel about their cycle of existence, and how much of it they truly understand.

If Faulkner had told this story any other way, we would not understand the cycle as well as we do. Overall, Faulkner characterizes Dewey Dell as a childish and naive victim of the suffering around her through her syntax in As I Lay Dying. Works Cited Bassett, John Earl. Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying.

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New York: Random House. Patel 4 Ross, Stephen M. Downloading text is forbidden on this website. You can get this essay on your email. We use cookies to give you the best experience possible.

This material is available only on Freebooksummary. The book is narrated by 15 different characters over 59 chapters.


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It is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her poor, rural family's quest and motivations—noble or selfish—to honor her wish to be buried in her hometown of Jefferson, Mississippi. As the book opens, Addie is alive, though in ill health. Addie and others expect her to die soon, and she sits at a window watching as her firstborn, Cash, builds her coffin. Anse, Addie's husband, waits on the porch, while their daughter, Dewey Dell, fans her mother in the July heat.

As I Lay Dying Characters from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

The night after Addie dies a heavy rainstorm sets in; rivers rise and wash out bridges the family will need to cross to get to Jefferson. The family's trek by wagon begins, with Addie's non-embalmed body in the coffin. Along the way, Anse and the five children encounter various difficulties.

Anse frequently rejects any offers of assistance, including meals or lodging, so at times the family goes hungry and sleeps in barns. At other times he refuses to accept loans from people, claiming he wishes to "be beholden to no man," thus manipulating the would-be-lender into giving him charity as a gift not to be repaid. Jewel, Addie's middle child, tries to leave his dysfunctional family after Anse sells Jewel's most prized possession, his horse, yet cannot turn his back on them through the trials. Cash breaks a leg and winds up riding atop the coffin.

He refuses to admit to any discomfort, but the family eventually puts a makeshift cast of concrete on his leg. Twice, the family almost loses Addie's coffin — first, while crossing a river on a washed-out bridge two mules are lost , and second, when a fire of suspicious origin, starts in the barn where the coffin is being stored for a night. After nine days, the family finally arrives in Jefferson, where the stench from the coffin is quickly smelled by the townspeople.

As I Lay Dying Essays

In town, family members have different items of business to take care of. Cash's broken leg needs attention. Dewey Dell, for the second time in the novel, goes to a pharmacy, trying to obtain an abortion that she does not know how to ask for. First, though, Anse wants to borrow some shovels to bury Addie, because that was the purpose of the trip and the family should be together for that.

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