William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

Satisfactory Essays
William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying

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Fulfilling a promise they had made to their mother, Addie, Cash, Darl,

Jewel, Dewey Dell, and Vardaman, in William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying, journey

across the Mississippi countryside to bring her body to be buried in Jefferson,

alongside her immediate family. Each one, in turn, narrates the events of this

excursion as they are perceived. Though all of the family members are going

through the same experiences, each one expresses what they see and how they

feel by exercising their individual powers and limitations of language. What

each character says as well as how he/she says it gives insight into that

character's underlying meanings.

Darl, for example, uses his linguistic skills to gain power as narrator.

He possesses the ability to pick up on things unsaid and to read other

people's actions. Dewey Dell describes his intuitiveness when she says that “

he said he knew without the words, and I knew he knew because if he had said

he knew with words I would not have believed…and that's why I can talk to him

with knowing with hating with because he knows” (27). He uses his gift of

realizing things without them having to actually be told to him to gain

credibility with the reader. Who would doubt a narrator who possesses that

type of adroitness? Also, his language is clear and reflective. He uses

similes and metaphors and appears to have an acute awareness of spatial

relationships. Darl's sophisticated perception and poetic linguistics give him

the means of reaching for and maintaining his role as a competent observer and

reporter. However, his position does create certain problems for his siblings.

Tull describes Darl's “look” as being uncanny.

"He is looking at me. He dont say

nothing; just looks at me with them

queer eyes of hisn that makes folks

talk. I always say it aint never

been what he done so much or said or

anything so much as how he looks at

you. It's like he had got into the

inside of you, someway. Like somehow

you was looking at yourself and your

doing outen his eyes." (125)

It is the same penetrating gaze that gives Darl so much power that

makes the others around him so uncomfortable, especially Dewey Dell. She feels

that his strange knowledge of what has not been said is an invasion of her

privacy. “The land runs out of Darl's eyes; they swim to pin points. They

begin at my feet and rise along my body to my face, and then my dress is gone:

I sit naked on the seat above the unhurrying mules, above the travail” (121).
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