Sincerity of Heroism in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying Essay

Sincerity of Heroism in Faulkner's As I Lay Dying Essay

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The novel As I Lay Dying was written by Southern author William Faulkner. As I Lay Dying was completed on January 12, 1930 and was published later that year (Blotner 252). Faulkner described the work as a tour de force, being completed over the span of only several weeks (Fargnoli 44), “[setting] out deliberately to write [the novel in this fashion]. Before I ever set down the first word I said, ‘I am to write a book by which, at a pinch, I can stand or fall if I never touch ink again.’” (Tredell 89). The novel has a multitude of overarching themes and is notably ranked among the best 100 novels ever written by the Modern Library publishing company’s operating board with good reason (Random House). Among these is a noticeable incongruity regarding the family member’s intentions in burying Addie Bundren, a wife and mother. Each Bundren has their own reason in undertaking the arduous 10 day journey (Fargnoli 526). Distinguished critic of Southern literature Cleanth Brooks has even remarked that one of the most core themes to the novel is “the nature of the heroic deed.” (Brooks 142-3). While As I Lay Dying may be cast in the manner of a heroic journey, this is simply not the case and represents mere happenstance reflection that only comes close to describing the plot Faulkner wrote with an iota of accuracy. The journey and eventual sojourn that the Bundrens take on is not one of heroic measure but on the other hand a courageous representation of self-interest.
Anse Bundren is the father and patriarch of the family, although he often fulfills neither role. Anse does not take on work for the family, labeling him from the start as a slothful and callous man. Darl perceptively remarks early on that, “I have never seen a sweat stain...


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...On File, 2008. Print.
Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Vintage, 1990. Print.
Hayes, Elizabeth. "Tension between Darl and Jewel." The Southern Literary Journal 2.2 (1992): 49-61. JSTOR. Web. 9 May 2011. .
Marius, Richard. Reading Faulkner: Introductions to the First Thirteen Novels. Ed. Nancy Grisham Anderson. Knoxville: University of Tennessee, 2006. Print.
Padgett, John B. “As I Lay Dying: Commentary.” William Faulkner on the Web. 3 June 2011. 3 June 2011 .
Sadler, David F. "The Second Mrs. Bundren: Another Look at the Ending of "As I Lay Dying"" American Literature 37.1 (Mar. 1965): 65-69. JSTOR. Web. .
Tredell, Nicolas. William Faulkner: The Sound and the Fury and As I Lay Dying. New York: Columbia UP, 1999. Print.

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