Alienation in As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner Essay

Alienation in As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner Essay

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William Faulkner is an American novelist whose major work is As I Lay Dying. Faulkner gave each of his characters traits that are expressed throughout the story.  The reader is introduced to each character through their detailed and descriptive character traits.  We are able to delve into the character's mind and see their personal and distinct traits. He did not tell us anything about the characters, but he takes us into the mind of each character to analyze what we see there. Even though these characters lead parallel lives we can see the total alienation and breakdown of the relationships between each other.  Darl, Jewel, and Anse possess character traits that contribute to or cause the breakdown of their relationship.

    Anse Bundren is a poor farmer, who was married to Addie for more than thirty years. He is lazy and selfish and relies greatly on his family and friends. Anse’s selfishness is what separates him from his two sons-Darl and Jewel. For example, the journey to Jefferson, to bury his dead wife was a promise he made to Addie, but his continued perseverance to better himself reveals his true selfishness. Despite the trials along the way and Addie’s body decomposing and attracting buzzards he is only concerned with getting to Jefferson to buy his new teeth. He uses Addie’s death to accomplish his own selfish motives. After Addie’s death Anse says, “But now I can get them teeth. That will be a comfort.” (Faulkner 28). The only reason Anse is carrying out with the journey is to get his new teeth. He further shows his selfishness when their mules are drowned in the flood. He makes an arrangement with a kinsman to trade Cash’s eight dollars and Jewel’s beloved horse for a new team of mules. Thirdly, Anse is so concern...


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...ls seperate from each other despite everything they share together. Faulkner shows us that with the death of Addie, the flood, fire, and the decomposing of flesh that should have brought them closer together, they are too self-absorbed in themselves to ever get close to each other.




Works Cited

Backman, Melvin. Faulkner: the major years;: A critical study. Indiana University Press 1966

Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography (Southern Icons) University Press of Mississippi, 2005

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage, 1987.

Getty, Laura J. “Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying” The Explicator. 64.3 (2005): 230. Gale. Web. 3 Oct. 2011

Humphrey, Robert. Stream of consciousness in the modern novel University of California Press, 1968

Vickery, Olga W. The Novels of William Faulkner: A Critical Interpretation, LSU Press, April 1, 1995


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