A Critical Analysis of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

Length: 5 Pages 1346 Words

William Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying is the story of one family’s experiences of the death of their mother and wife, Addie Bundren, and the experiences the family members go through in an attempt to fulfill what they think is a simple wish she had for her funeral arrangements. Addie Bundren’s dying wish is to return to her homeland of Jefferson, where she grew up to be buried with “her people” as William Faulkner says in the opening of As I Lay Dying. Faulkner’s novel is set over a six day period in the state of Mississippi that starts in the mythical county of Yoknapatawpha County. The Yoknapatawpha County referred to in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is “closely modeled on Lafayette County, Mississippi and both the real and fictional counties are roughly bounded on the northeast by the Tallahatchie River; in the fictional county the Yocana River to the south is named the Yoknapatawpha” (Tuck, 1). Tuck refers to this land that to as “William Faulkner’s mythical kingdom is situated in northern Mississippi” and is the setting for several of his novels including As I Lay Dying (Tuck, 1). This land is also the land that William Faulkner calls home therefore his familiarity with the layout and t Continue...

Darl begins to think if his mother does not exist then he does not exist. Some other examples include the setting of Cash's leg in cement after he breaks it, the attraction of buzzards to the corpse because of the affects of time and heat, and the occasions where the coffin and corpse is almost lost to fire and sinking in the river. Tuck discusses this of multiple perspectives and narrators by Faulkner to prevent the reader from developing an identity with a single character by stating, "Faulkner withdraws himself from the author's accustomed position as mediator between the reader and the action; the author's voice is almost entirely lacking. William Faulkner's novel, As I Lay Dying is an excellent example of how a writer can develop a work that makes readers think about a subject, in this case life and death, and see the ironic and comedic sides of the subject while teaching us several lessons about the subject. This is because of the different styles of narration used by the many different narrators in As I Lay Dying. It is these reasons that I believe that William Faulkner's As I Lay Dying is a good example of dark comedy literature. Addie displays this theme in making the request to be buried in Jefferson with her people and having everything done just as she wants it carried out. Another theme that William Faulkner has is As I Lay Dying is that of the identity and awareness a person has to their own identity according to Volpe. Faulkner also uses the story to show how members of the family are out for their own needs and not respect of the deceased Addie in an ironic sense. "Faulkner's remarkable success in this novel (As I Lay Dying) is achieved by an accumulation of incongruities, stated Volpe in his Reader's Guide to Faulkner. "As I Lay Dying is constructed out the thoughts and feelings of fifteen characters the seven Bundrens and eight outsiders each of whom narrates on or more short sections describing Addie's death or funeral journey, according to Tuck (Tuck, 35). However, ironically after the journey is completed and Addie's' body is buried and put to rest the family does not spare her a second thought. Each of these individual cases of irony vividly add twists and evidence to Faulkner's idea of the comedic qualities of life and death and his efforts to make fun of these qualities in As I Lay Dying.