Character Analysis of Dewey Dell Bundren in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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William Faulkner, a Nobel Prize winning author, wrote the novel "As I Lay Dying" in six weeks without changing a word. Considering the story's intricate plot, not changing a single word seems like it would take a literary genius to complete. Many people agree that Faulkner could very well be a genius due to the organization of this story. Faulkner uses fifteen different characters to narrate and allow the reader to analyze each of their point of views. Through the confessions of each character, the reader is able to form his or her opinion about different characters and issues. Since some narrators are unreliable for different reasons, it could be confusing to form opinions. One character that is easily understood is Dewey Dell Bundren. She is the only daughter in the Bundren family and ends up being the only woman in the family. "As I Lay Dying", the story of a family's journey to bury their mother and wife, is also the story of Dewey Dell's journey toward maturity. Along their journey to bury their mother, the characters, like Dewey Dell, seem to evolve through their encounters with other people. Faulkner depicts Dewey Dell as a very monotonous person in the beginning of the book. In the beginning, Dewey Dell is seen fanning her mother, picking cotton, or milking cows. However, towards the end of the book, her repetitiveness is lost. Towards the end of the novel, Faulkner specifically shows Dewey Dell in numerous situations becoming a mature individual. Dewey Dell Bundren represents the most naïve character in the novel "As I Lay Dying". Different characters in the story take advantage of her naivete and use it to benefit their needs or wants. Even though these situations are brusquely obvious, Dewey Dell... ... middle of paper ... ...a good result. However, Dewey Dell shows signs of motherly actions when she "... tears a piece of paper from the package and wipes the cement from the top of it as it drips from Cash's leg" (Faulkner 208). Dewey Dell shows a surprising amount of maternal instinct when she finds out Vardaman saw Darl light the Gillespie's barn on fire. Vardaman was just being the typical, curious boy when he gained knowledge of Darl's wrongdoings. In a protective manner, Dewey Dell warned Vardaman as he explains "... I saw something that Dewey Dell says I mustn't tell nobody" (Faulkner 225). Another example of Dewey Dell assuming a protective, motherly role occurs when Jewel and a townsman have an altercation. Dewey Dell attempts to shield Jewel from the dispute. All of these examples along the Bundren's journey depict Dewey Dell maturing and evolving into a motherly figure.

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