As I Lay Dying By William Faulkner

1082 Words5 Pages
William Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying, comprises a complex narrative that can be analyzed in depth for meaning and significance nestled just below the surface. The arsenal of literary criticism lenses functions as a medium with which readers can interpret and discern these deeper meanings, enriching their overall foray into the novel. As such, one ideal lens to employ and magnify the ulterior meanings embedded within the novel is the Marxist Critical Theory, which revolves around the use of the titular socialist theories and principles of Karl Marx in texts. The actions and mentalities of the characters within the novel highlight the very economic struggles and predicaments that Marxist theories emphasize. One such scenario is through Jewel’s acquisition of his own horse without the knowledge of the rest of his family. Jewel, the illegitimate son of Addie Bundren and Minister Whitfield with estranged ties to the main Bundren family, is found to have worked discreetly under the employ of one of the family neighbors in order to accumulate enough money to purchase a horse. Much to the dismay of Anse and Addie, Jewel seems unperturbed by the suspicion his absence from his assigned errands has aroused, and is convinced that he earned the horse by unquestionable means. Anse berates Jewel angrily, telling him, “You went behind my back and bought a horse. You never consulted me; you know how tight it is for us to make by, yet you bought a horse for me to feed. Taken the work from your flesh and blood and bought a horse with it” (Faulkner 136). Anse’s frustration illustrates the very nature of the notion of private ownership in capitalist doctrine, as well as the value of labor. Jewel’s decision to work on the property of another wi... ... middle of paper ... ...mules to carry Addie’s coffin symbolizes how the corporate elitists and capitalists consider the proletariat masses beneath them to be “expendable,” and their labor to be a means to an end. The equipment sacrificed by Anse could have assisted the family with future endeavors and tasks, but they are instead used to expedite the journey of reaching Addie’s burial site, furthering Anse’s obsession to get the task done. Marxist ideas and principles are firmly entrenched within the fabric of the novel, presenting notions of class struggle, the value of labor, and the relationships between the proletariat and corporate elite. The influx of such principles represents the employment of the Marxist Lens in this literary work, and the surge of ideas inundating the novel may resemble a tumultuous revolt by the workers flooding the streets to rise up against their oppressors.
Open Document