Tag Archives: as i lay dying

He Could Not Help It, for this is who he is.

“Because I said will I or wont I when the sack was half full because I said if the sack is full when we get to the woods it wont be me. I said if it dont mean for me to do it the sack will not be full and I will turn up the next row but if the sack is full, I cannot help it. It will be that I had to do it all the time and I cannot help it. And we picked on toward the secret shade and our eyes would drown together touching on his hands and I didn’t say anything. I said “What are you doing?” and he said “I am picking into your sack.” And so it was full when we came to the end of the row and I could not help it. And so it was because I could not help it.” (23 – 24)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

Faulkner uses a very familiar form of repetition that we have been seeing in works by Stein, but in this case, the perspective is first person and causes this tool to be used very differently. Dewey Dell repeats over and over that he “could not help it” when talking about the condition of the sack being full. In doing so, it comes off as committing it into understanding or taking into perception an idea that may or may not be true. Once again, we see a stream of consciousness and while the stream was outwardly present in Mrs. Dalloway, Dewey Dell, like the rest, have a stream that is entirely inward. Dewey Dell is not talking to anyone but himself and is doing his very best to comprehend the situation in a way that he could. He goes from claiming that the full sack could not be helped and then reverts that claim by stating that the sack is full because he could not help it. This could possibly lead to an understanding on what he can or cannot control, or understand, and how it affects his daily life in the simplest of ways.

Cora and her thoughts

‘“She ought to taken them,” Kate says, “But those rich town ladies can change their minds. Poor folks cant.” Riches is nothing in the face of the Lord, for He can see into the heart. “Maybe I can sell them at the bazaar Saturday,” I say. They turned out real well.’ (7)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

Between the dialogue, the line about the Lord, caught my attention because it seems to come out of nowhere. We get a sense of Cora’s thought, or what she thinks about, before she actually answers out loud. This happens often in each of her sections, as she makes references to the Lord.

Jewel’s Love

“‘Eat’, he says. “Get the goddamn stuff out of sight while you got a chance, you pussel-gutted bastard. You sweet son of a bitch,” he says”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition.         New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print.

Knowing that Jewel’s most prized possession is his horse that he worked so hard for, his way of speaking to his horse seems strange. How he deals with the emotions of love and caring is much different than his brothers and most people in general. His differences from his brothers establish him as a loner.

Where’s Darl?

“Why, Addie,” pa says, “him and Darl went to make one more load,” (41)…
Jewel’s hat droops limp about his neck, channelling water onto the soaked towsack tied about his shoulders as, ankle-deep in the running ditch, he pries with a slipping two-by-four, with a piece of rotting log for fulcrum, at the axle. Jewel, I say, she is dead, Jewel. Addie Bundren is dead (46).

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying. New York: Modern Library, 2000. p.41-46 Print.

Darl gains omniscient properties after Anse notes that Darl isn’t at the house, but out with Jewel. It is peculiar that Darl recounted events he was not present for in a normal narrative style, yet his telling Jewel that Addie was dead was told in italics, as if he wasn’t actually present for that.

Change in Focalization

“It’s because he stays out there, right under the window, hammering and sawing on
that goddamn box. Where she’s got to see him. Where every breath she draws is
full of his knocking and sawing where she can see him saying See. See what a
good one I am making for you. ”

The first instance of a shift in focal points, from Darl to Jewel, gives the feeling that these characters are being interviewed.

Darl and first person experience

“Where’s Jewel?” pa says. When I was a boy I first learned how much better water tastes when it has set a while in a cedar bucket. Warmish-cool, with a faint taste like the hot July wind in cedar trees smells…I fling the dipper dregs to the ground and wipe my mouth on my sleeve. It is going to rain before morning. Maybe before dark. “Down to the barn,” I say. “Harnessing the team.”

Faulkner, William. “As I Lay Dying”. New York. The Modern Library Edition. 2000. p.10-11  Print.

Each character narration has a different style in writing. For Darl, the reader follows his flow of thoughts. At this point in the text, his pa had asked him where Jewel was, and within that short pause, the reader experiences what Darl is experiencing. The memories that he recollects and thinks about in what is actually a brief pause between his father’s question and the answer.

Jewel: Mom and I

“If it had just been me when Cash fell off of that church and if it had just been me when pa laid sick with that load of wood fell on him, it would not be happening with every bastard in the country coming in to stare at her because if there is a God what the hell is He for. It would just be me and her on a high hill and me rolling the rocks down the hill at their faces, picking them up and throwing them down the hill faces and teeth and all by God until she was quiet and not that goddamn adze going One lick less. One lick less and we could be quiet”

Faulkner, William. “As I Lay Dying”. New York. The Modern Library Edition. 2000. p.15  Print.

This passage portrays the narration of Jewel, who seems to be especially more attached to his mother. He is bothered by the fact that Cash is making his mother’s coffin where she can “see” it. He does not want everyone to be with his mother and just wishes to be alone with her. Faulkner uses specific terms to portray his frustration and writes the sentence in ways to portray just how much he was attached to his mother.

Repetition In Faulkner

“When they get it finished they are going to put her in it and then for a long time I couldn’t say it. I saw the dark stand up and go whirling away and I said ‘Are you going to nail her up in it, Cash? Cash? Cash?’ I got shut up in the crib the new door it was too heavy for me it went shut I couldn’t breathe because the rat was breathing up all the air. I said ‘Are you going to nail it shut, Cash? Nail it? Nail it?’” (Faulkner 65)

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

Faulkner uses repetition throughout the novel through many contexts. He first used repetition to emphasize the noise of the axe in the first chapter by stating, “Chuck, chuck, chuck” (Faulkner 5). However, in the above passage the use of repetition is present in the character’s personality through her impatient tone. Instead of pausing in the sentence continues on with a tone of implied haste as the character keeps emphasizing certain words.

“That’s what they mean by the love that passeth understanding: that pride, that furious desire to hide that abject nakedness which we bring here with us, carry with us into operating rooms,carry stubbornly and furiously with us into the earth again”.

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. New York: Modern Library, 2000. Print.

When reading this passage I felt an overwhelming sense of passion, judgement, and love. The book itself is not moralistic but I felt this passage revealed a sense of values and a very consciousness of them always being aware of their values. They are carried everywhere and their lives can be interpreted by the values they carry with them.