The Iniquities of the Father

Powerful Essays
The Iniquities of the Father:

A Look at the Faulknerian Family.

Faulkner has been hailed as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, especially for his depictions of life in the Deep South. Many of his stories take place in fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi. In the Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying, he focuses on two very different families in this county, and explores how the “iniquity of the fathers” is revisited “upon the children” (Holy Bible: KJV Deut. 5.9). In both novels, through the use of stream of consciousness and various other modernist writing techniques, Faulkner looks at two deeply troubled families with weak parents and confused children and explores how these children cope--or fail to cope--with loss. In The Sound and The Fury, the Compsons have to cope with the loss of their sister and what she stood for, whether the smell of trees, family honor, or ambition. In As I Lay Dying, the Bundrens have to cope with the death of their mother. Some of the children, following their parents example, can not or will not cope with the loss and its consequences, and end up falling apart. Others cope in surprising ways, focusing their pain on something else until they are ready to accept the truth, as is the case with Vardaman. These two novels have very different tones--one is unremittingly serious while the other is comic--yet the events in both can undoubtedly be seen as tragic. In both families, these children must function without any positive influence or role models and as a result some of them emotionally and/ or psychologically disintegrate when they are left to cope on their own.

Faulkner was born William Cuthbert Falkner in New Albany, Mississippi, on September 25, 1897. His great...

... middle of paper ...


Faulkner, William. The Sound and the Fury. New York: Vintage, 1990.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage, 1990.

Henderson, Helene and Jay P. Pederson, eds. Twentieth Century Literary Movements Dictionary. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2000.

The Holy Bible: King James Version. New York: Penguin, 1974.

Kartiganer, Donald M. The Fragile Thread: The Meaning of Form in Faulkner’s Novels. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1979.

Meriwether, James B., and Michael Millgate, eds. Lion in the Garden: Interviews with William Faulkner. New York: Random, 1968.

Minter, David. William Faulkner: His Life and Work. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980.

Shakespeare, William. Macbeth. Ed. Barbara A. Mowat and Paul Werstine. New York: Washington Square-Pocket, 1992.

Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1964.
Get Access