The Autistic Child In Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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As an author, Faulkner worked tirelessly to bring attention to important political issues. Critics and scholars alike laud him for his examination of race, gender roles, and social class. They often overlook his astute characterizations of children. These offspring, who suffer tremendously because of the broken and twisted society they live in, are some of the most fascinating characters featured in Faulkner’s work. Vardaman Bundren, the youngest and most eccentric child featured in As I Lay Dying, is a testament to this fact. While Vardaman displays some symptoms of mild retardation and other learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorder serves as a more precise explanation for his behavior. His limited social skills, inappropriate responses,…show more content…
There, he would have built connections with the objects in his environment, which would have included fish. This disassociation is another lesser-known symptom of autism spectrum disorder, as individuals with this condition often develop deep feelings for inanimate objects. “I feel sad for the photograph that gets pushed to the back of the display cabinet, the guitar that doesn’t get played anymore, or the once loved camera that has now been displaced by a newer one. As a young autistic child, I played alone with my little toy cars and soldiers. I would be overwhelmed with sadness for the toy that got left out, or didn’t work properly,” Steve Slavin, a writer for, said. In his narrations, Vardaman assigns gender-specific pronouns to these different inanimate objects, as autistic children are prone to do. To make sense of his mother’s death, he kills and cuts apart a fish, further proving his disassociation with people and…show more content…
People’s emotions fascinate them, but cannot relate to or understand their sentiments. Likewise, neurotypical children often struggle to comprehend the needs of their autistic peers, leading to a sad phenomenon of social isolation. Readers can see this misunderstanding occur between Vardaman and his family. While loving and kind, Vardaman lacks the ability to properly express his feelings. Amid Addie’s departure, he rambles internally, oftentimes about subjects unrelated to his current reality. He watches her demise, and the bizarre reactions of those around him, the same way someone might watch a movie. Vardaman is sad, but restricted in his ability to express himself due to his father and his autism. Readers can see Vardaman cares, he cried immediately after her death, but he doesn’t know how to engage with others during such a devastating ordeal. His tries to connect with his family by bringing an ailing Addie a fish he liked, but Anse rejects his effort. The scene is indicative of both his disability and his father’s ignorance, as he doesn’t bother to try and understand his young

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