Tag Archives: darl

Supplementing the Narrative

“Watch yourself,” Cash says.
“I’m on it now,” Jewel says. “You can come ahead now.”
Cash takes the reins and lowers the team carefully and skillfully into the
stream.
I felt the current take us and I knew we were on the ford by that reason,
since it was only by means of that slipping contact that we could tell that we
were in motion at all. What had once been a -flat surface was now a succession
of troughs and hillocks lifting and falling about us, shoving at us, teasing at
us with light lazy touches in the vain instants of solidity underfoot. Cash
looked back at me, and then I knew that we were gone. But I did not realise the
reason for the rope until I saw the log. It surged up out of the water and
stood for an instant upright upon that surging and heaving desolation like
Christ. Get out and let the current take you down to the bend, Cash said. You
can make it all right. No, I said, I’d get just as wet that way as this
The log appears suddenly between two hills, as if it had rocketed suddenly
from the bottom of the river (147-48).

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

The italicized excerpt from one of Darl’s chapters changes tense in the middle of scene in which the wagon turns over into the water, a scene that is progressing in the story, shifting from present tense narrative with direct-reported discourse, to past tense narrative and indirect discourse, and then back to present tense and direct-reported discourse. This peculiar moment seems as though it was placed into the story a-chronologically in order to supplement the story in a later edition, as though at the time of the experience, Darl could not possibly have comprehended his surroundings enough to fully tell the story, highlighting the problems that can occur when narrative attempts to convey experience.

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.

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.