Tag Archives: Faulkner

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.

Faulkner and “saying without words”

“And so it was because I could not help it. It was then, and then I saw Darl and he knew. He said he knew without the words like he told me that ma is going to die without words, and I knew he knew because if he had said he knew with the words I would not have believed that he had been there and saw us. But he said he did know and I said “Are you going to tell pa are you going to kill him?” without the words I said it and he said “Why?” without the words. And that’s why I can talk to him with knowing with hating because he knows.”

Faulkner, William. As I Lay Dying: The Corrected Text. First Vintage International Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1990. Print. 27.

How much of this paragraph was actually spoken out loud?

 

 

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.

Anse’s language

“Durn that road. And it fixing to rain, too. I can stand here and same as see it with second-sight, a shutting down behind them like a wall, shutting down betwixt them and my given promise. I do the best I can, much as I can get my mind on anything, but durn them boys” (35).

Faulkner William. “As I Lay Dying”. New York. The Modern Library Edition. 2000. p.30  Print.

It is interesting to see Faulkner use “southern” language in Anse’s point of view specifically. The readers can picture in their mind of how a southerner speaks by looking at the language and reading it out loud. It is interesting to see Anse use that specific language while others do not. Faulkner gives the readers a clue that Anse is not fully educated like the rest of the characters (although he is one of the oldest brothers) by using sentence fragments, misspelling words, random comma placing etc.