As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

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As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner is presented to the reader in a stream of consciousness narration style told from fifteen points of view, which each chapter is narrated by one character. Faulkner engages the reader to form multiple interpretations and at times they are conflicting. The novel is centered around one character, Addie, who has just passed away. However, Addie only has one chapter in the novel but the fact that she has already passed away makes her section even more significant. Addie is an individual trapped in a patriarchal world that suppresses and silences her. Generalizing Addie without exploration into her character counteracts the way in which Faulkner has chosen to signify her and the gender roles she is compelled to conform to. Through an analysis of patriarchal language constraints, Addie's chapter and role will be determined as an inability to express her desires and identity. A major characteristic that Faulkner's As I Lay Dying revolves around is the relationship between "words and things." Addie describes, "Words go straight up in a thin line, quick and harmless. How terribly doing goes along the earth, clinging to it, so that after a while the two lines are too far apart for the same person to straddle from one to the other" (Faulkner, 173). This quote by Addie shows her struggle with words and language and her inability to express herself in a way that she wants to. In Castration or Decapitation Hélène Cixous describes this relationship between words and things stating, “Man/woman automatically means great/small, superior/inferior...In fact every theory of the culture, every theory of society, the whole conglomeration of symbolic system – everything that is, that’s spoken, everything th... ... middle of paper ... ...use women do not have a penis, they cannot be a part of the symbolic order. Finally we learn that Addie does not succeed in expressing herself in a way that conforms to the symbolic order. Works Cited Cixous, Hélène. "The Laugh of the Medusa." 1975. The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. 2nd ed. New York [u.a.: Norton, 2010. 1942-959. Print. Cixous, Hélène. (1981) "Castration or Decapitation," in Signs no. 7, pp. 41-55 Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print. Forte, Jeanie. "Women's Performance Art: Feminism and Postmodernism." Theatre Journal. May 1988. Kristeva, J. (1986) "A Question of Subjectivity. Interview with S. Sellers," in Women’s Review, Vol.12, pp. 19-22. Ross, Stephen M. Fiction's Inexhaustible Voice: Speech and Writing in Faulkner. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1989.
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