Analysis Of Faulkner 's ' As I Lay Dying '

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In Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying was written around the 1930’s, during the first wave of feminism. During this wave, the inequalities women faced were being brought to light, women were starting to stay single instead of getting married and becoming active in the movement. Faulkner’s novel emphasizes the inequalities faced by women during the time period through his portrayal of the female characters and the interactions between them. The way the women in the novel are treated and cope with this treatment also reveals the roles they are forced to fill in society and the impact of the roles on their character. The roles that the women play in the novel is exclusively childbirth and this theme is connected to the theme of marriage and shows why marriage was expected of women. The three women in As I Lay Dying are all portrayed very differently, Cora believes that “a woman’s place is with her husband and children, alive or dead (23),” revealing her acceptance of the patriarchy and her role as a woman. Unlike the male roles in the novel, the women were expected to do things like bake and clean while the men did virile things like building. Dewey Dell is portrayed as naïve because she is fooled by the “doctor,” and she suffers from an identity/gender crisis, which is shown in her dream. “When I [Dewey Dell] used to sleep with Vardaman I had a nightmare once I thought I was awake but I couldn’t see and couldn’t feel the bed under me and I couldn’t think what I was I couldn’t think of my name I couldn’t even think I am a girl (121).” In another one of Dell’s dreams, she kills Darla and this may be because she felt vulnerable with him knowing that she is pregnant and during this time her pregnancy was frowned upon. ... ... middle of paper ... ...hristian husband (23),”which says that she believes that God wants her to be put into this role. Addie is connected with religion because she recognizes her sin when she sleeps with Whitfield and makes it up to “Anse and to God (174)” by having Dewey Dell and Vardaman. Unlike Cora, she does not use religion to cope. Lastly, Dewey Dell says that “God gave women a sign when something has happened bad (58),” so she believes that God will give her a sign and things may work out for her. The women in As I Lay Dying are deeply affected by the patriarchal society because they all react differently to their situations. Faulkner’s portrayal of these women shows the tragic situation of women during the era and creates sympathy in the reader. Despite this, his portrayal is overlooked and depreciated due to the stereotypical and vengeful portrayal of the women.

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