The "I" in William Faulkner's AS I LAY DYING, is Addie Bundren. And while the book is about her death and her family's obligation to bury her miles away in her hometown, Addie's voice is only given one chapter, and that chapter is in the dead center of the book. Flares and sirens should be going off. All the chapters surrounding this central one are remarkable examples of inarticulation, including the famous one-sentence chapter from the youngest Bundren, Vardaman: "My mother is a fish." Addie, however, in her brief chapter, has much to say about everyone, including herself. Her last statement, however, while her devout neighbor tries to force her to repent, points out the impotence of language; that salvation and damnation are just words. Compare this to Dickens' belief in the moralizing power of novels. Dickens believed that his art would have a beneficial effect on his society; think of all the times he addresses his readers and implores them to listen to him and learn. Less than a century later, Faulkner admits that in the end, salvation or damnation is "just a word."
But after having said all that, I don't want you to think that this novel is a mere screen for Faulkner's philosphy.Read more ›