Feminist Perspective of Addie Bundren of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
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A Feminist Perspective of Addie Bundren of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying
Addie Bundren of William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying has often been characterized as an unnatural, loveless, cold mother whose demands drive her family on a miserable trek to bury her body in Jefferson. For a feminist understanding of Addie, we have to move outside the traditional patriarchal definitions of "womanhood" or "motherhood" that demand selflessness from others, blame mothers for all familial dysfunction, and only lead to negative readings of Addie. She also has been characterized as yet another Faulkner character who is unable to express herself using language. This modernist view of the inexpressiblility of the creative spirit does not apply to Addie simply because she is not an artist; she is a woman and a mother, a person who feminist theorists would desribe as "traditionally mute." To characterize her using universalizing, humanist terms erases the way that her character is marked by her biological sex and by the gender roles she is forced to play. Addie is not a representative of humankind, or even of womankind, but an individual woman trapped in a partriarchal world that represses her desires and silences her; a woman who longs to find an identity of her own that is outside patriarchal constructions and not always definable in relation to the men and the children in her life. Most importantly, Addie is a character who is acutely aware of the linguistic and social oppression that traps her into a life she does not want.
Many feminist/post-modern theorists see language as a patriarchal construct that excludes women. As Jeanie Forte writes, this characterization of language is informed by Lacanian theory, which, in turn, is influenc...
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