Tag Archives: Attempt to Understand

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.