Faulkner’s as I Lay Dying Essay Example
Faulkner’s as I Lay Dying Essay Example

Faulkner’s as I Lay Dying Essay Example

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  • Pages: 9 (2471 words)
  • Published: October 21, 2017
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As I Lay Dying demonstrates a dehumanizing reduction of characters to their most basic desires and goals, creating a unique sense of reality in Faulkner's fiction. The strong emphasis on Daddies father's belief that our lives are mere preparation for death, regardless of how we define our "readiness," leads the novel to explore the idea proposed by Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle: that "the aim of all life is death" (Freud AAA: 32).

According to Freud, and likely in line with Daddies father's beliefs, the death towards which life drives is not the elevated existence promised by Christian faith, but rather a primal state of stagnation disrupted by external stimuli. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud alters his usual dualistic view of psychic life, replacing the conflict between ego instincts and sexual instincts w


ith a conflict between life and death (Freud 1961 a: 47): the forces of Eros and Thanatos.

Eros represents the instinct to change and grow, to progress and create new forms. It extends outward to love and familial and communal bonds, aiming to establish greater unities and preserve them (1969: 5).

The text emphasizes the instinct for perfection in human beings that has led to their intellectual achievement and ethical development (1961 a: 36). It highlights how the drive for destruction counteracts the instinct of Eros to fulfill the need for inner calm and return to a state similar to the inorganic world (1969: 5; 1961 a: 56). Additionally, it acknowledges that life is essentially a process of returning to death, following a circuitous path faithfully adhered to by conservative instincts, which defines the phenomena of life (AAA: 33). The urg

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to die is a determining factor in these phenomena, seeking to restore a prior state of existence (AAA: 31). Eddie explores how Eros contains death by utilizing its destructiveness, and Freud argues that these two instincts rarely exist in isolation from each other. He proposes that the death instinct's inherent masochism can be transformed into external aggression, where it serves Eros by destroying other things rather than oneself (Freud 1961 b: 66). Eddie expands on this idea by demonstrating how this aggression can contribute to Eros by facilitating greater unities.This is not just the aggressive aspect of sexuality, but a violence that allows her to temporarily escape from the isolation and privacy that characterize her own madness. When observing her students, Eddie thinks, "I would hate my father for ever planting me," as Ana selects someone for a strange outing (Faulkner 1990: 169-70). Her way of retaliating against her death wish is ironically through physical punishment, as she says, "only through the blows of the switch could my blood and their blood flow as one stream" (p.172). This type of violence can be seen in all her attempts to connect with others. She takes Manse as her husband and experiences childbirth as a form of aloneness that is violated and then made whole again by the violation, with Cash being included in this sense of wholeness (p.172). She fulfills her duty to the living and to the powerful bloodline through adultery with the minister Whitfield, breaking the sanctity of marriage while sanctifying sin. Finally, Eddie seeks revenge on Manse by turning her aggression against Eros itself or rather the version of Eros that he represents

for her.She entrusts him with the task of conveying her deceased body to Jefferson for burial. The reason behind her revenge, which involves this necessary burial journey, has perplexed readers because it appears to lack any logical basis. At the time of her request, after the birth of her second son Dare, Manse disregards the choice of burial location, assuming only that Eddie anticipates her demise due to the birth itself: " 'Nonsense,' Manse said; You and me ain't nearly finished yet, with just two' " (1990: 173). Neither he nor the rest of the family ever questions Eddie or even speculates on why she desires to be laid to rest in Jefferson. Furious for finding herself pregnant with Dare, Eddie alleges that she has been deceived by forces older than Manse or love, and that this same force had also deceived Manse. She asserts that her revenge will be that he will never know she was seeking vengeance. And when Dare was born, I asked Manse to promise me that he would take me back to Jefferson when I passed away because I knew that my father had been right, even when he couldn't have known he was right any more than I could have known I was wrong (1990: 172-3). It is ironic that Dare, the unwanted and "motherless" child, is the one son who consistently probes into the complexities and awareness of life. Thus, later in life, Dare, through his intricate thought-processes, is able to perceive his own undesirability as well as his lack of a maternal figure.Despite Daddy and Daddies' rejection of Dare, it is ironic that Dare becomes the character

who values words the most. Eddie closed herself off from Manse for ten years, claiming he was dead even though he was unaware of it. However, after a decade, Eddie meets Whitfield, the preacher, and sees him as a symbol of sanctification. Eddie believes that Jewel, conceived in violence, is her natural choice for salvation. But both love and salvation require violence. Jewel exhibits this violence through his treatment of his horse and saves Daddies' body and the burning barn. Thus, Jewel, born out of Daddies' desire for violence, reacts to events with impulsive and violent actions rather than words. After her affair with Whitfield, Eddie begins preparing for her own death. She confesses to giving birth to Dewey Dell as a way to negate Jewel and Verdant to replace what she took from Manse's hill. Therefore, Dewey Dell, born to replace or negate Jewel, resembles Manse the most. She only sees actions as they immediately affect her egoistically.And like Manse, she is only concerned with herself and will use deceit to get her way. Similarly, Verdant, who was born not out of love but as a replacement for another child, reflects this by replacing his deceased mother with a dead fish. The actions surrounding the birth of each child are mirrored in their behavior throughout the novel. Faulkner's aim was to showcase how the Bounders struggle to form satisfying relationships within the family. Eddie Bundler is self-centered, more interested in imposing herself on others than caring for her children's needs. However, Eddie possesses the cruel strength to inflict harm on her children's lives. Her own self-centeredness is somehow manifested in her children. The Birdman

repeatedly states that he is "nothing," echoing Daddy's belief that people are insignificant when they are not causing trouble. Dewey Dell identifies as nothing because she is always alone. Dewey Dell also displays Daddy's egotism as she only acts for her own selfish pleasure. Daddy's violent nature can be seen in Jewel, and his desire to take action over speaking is reflected in Cash, who only speaks after completing an action. Dare, it should be remembered, was an unwanted child who realized she had been deceived by words.

Dare, as the rejected son, rejects his father's nihilistic philosophy of violence and destruction, despite being aware of the complexities of life. However, he still tries to achieve understanding and sympathy within the family, leading him to be placed in an insane asylum. The novel depicts the family's downfall due to a negative philosophy that infects or destroys them as both a united family and as individuals capable of comprehending life. The mother, substituting negative values for love, plays a significant role in this. These themes are evident in the epiphany scenes surrounding the birth of each child. Eddie, who lived a life centered around violence, realizes that she had failed to leave an impact on others during her lifetime. Determined to achieve reality by making her presence known to others, she asks them to carry her to Jefferson for her burial after her death. The main question in this novel is understanding why Eddie makes Manse promise to take her back to Jefferson. It is revealed early on that she had no love for her own family and eventually despised her father when she realized the

necessity of violence for awareness.

The text suggests that Eddie, in her final attempt to make her family aware of her existence, embarked on a difficult journey as revenge against Manse. She wanted to prove that she was not just empty words. Though she partially fails to make her family acknowledge her, Manse, who is accustomed to death, fulfills his promise without any deep emotions towards the deceased. Ann, on the other hand, only expresses minor sentiments and lives a life of ineffective words. Without the assistance of Samson, Armrest, Dull, and Gillespie, Manse would not have been able to reach Jefferson. He ensures that he doesn't steal too much so that there will still be teeth for him when he arrives in Jefferson.He must also rely on others to dig the grave since he didn't bring a spade and refuses to buy one. In the occurrences of the water incident and the fire, Manse is always a bystander, commenting on his misfortune before he can get what he desires. The irony lies in the fact that Manse is consistently indebted to others but fails to acknowledge his obligation, using his commonly repeated phrase "l anti beholden" as an excuse. Daddies attempts to make her family aware of her existence again fail with Dewey Dell, Verdant, and Cash. Dewey Dell's only concern is getting to the druggist due to her pregnancy. Verdant lives in a world of confusion and is unaware of his mother's deteriorating body, eagerly anticipating seeing a toy train in a store window. Cash focuses solely on one action at a time, caring only about the present moment. Only Jewel and Dare truly

feel Daddies presence, despite her reluctance to affect them. Once Eddie's relationship with the rest of the family is established, the next challenge lies in Dare's relationship with the Bundler family and their attitudes towards him.Dare is a character in the book who possesses elusive, complicated, and thought-provoking qualities. Through Dare's observations and perspective, the reader gains insight into the other characters. Dare exists on multiple levels of consciousness, making them unique among the book's characters. Their perceptiveness allows them to understand the emotions and relationships of others. For example, Dare recognizes Jewel's deep love for Eddie, seeing how Jewel substitutes their emotions onto his horse. Dare also understands that Jewel is burdened by Eddie, leading them to describe Jewel in symbolic and wooden imagery. Dare has an ability to see into Jewel's inner consciousness and comprehend their motivations behind each action. Despite this understanding, Dare chooses not to take action, causing tension to rise between them and Jewel.The tension escalates when Jewel sells his horse and reaches its climax when Jewel violently attacks Dare. Dare's relationship with Dewey is similar to his relationship with Jewel, but on a different level. Dare is able to understand the implications surrounding Dewey Dell's pregnancy. When she asks Dare if he will tell their father or kill Leaf, Dare refuses to take action. This causes tension to steadily build between Dare and Dewey Dell, leading to a violent confrontation where she attacks Dare even more aggressively than Jewel does. There are no conflicts between Dare and Cash or between Dare and Verdant. Dare is the only one who can empathize with Verdant's world of plants, but there is

no conflict because Dare lives on a higher level than Cash or Verdant. Dare and Cash feel a close bond with each other, mainly due to Cash believing that Dare was right in attempting to burn the barn. However, Cash's limited reasoning prevents him from reaching any conclusive decisions as he only sees actions on a surface level. As we continue reading, it becomes increasingly clear that Dare is the key figure in unraveling the complex connections between the characters.The significance of Dare lies not only in his intricate thinking and ability to perceive and understand everything, but also in the fact that most of the significant events are portrayed through his perspective. Prior to leaving with the wagon to earn three dollars, Dare immerses himself in the character of Eddie. Later on, he comprehends and recounts Daddy's death in a beautifully expressive and poetic manner.

Through Dare, the reader discovers details such as the loading of the coffin, Jewel buying the horse, the loss and subsequent recovery of the coffin from the water, and the burning of the barn. Dare even intervenes to prevent Jewel from engaging in a fight with one of the townspeople from Jefferson. It is evident, therefore, that Faulkner has bestowed upon Dare the role of a key figure within the Bundren family. Dare is depicted as the rational and sensible individual pitted against a tumultuous world of uneducated, disoriented, violent, and aimless Bundrens.

This suggests that Dare's sanity is diminishing, making the reader aware of his regression towards insanity. In the passage following the barn-burning, it is only Dare who possesses enough intelligence and sanity to stop Jewel from getting involved

in a fight. As Jewel prepares to attack an observer from town, Dare handles the situation with complete rationality, composure, and calmness. Faulkner presents various impartial views of Dare that raise doubts regarding the necessity of sending him to an insane asylum.

Dry.Peabody considers the decision to send Dare to Jackson as a typical blunder made by Manse, comparing it to Ann's foolish act of putting concrete on Cash's leg. Gillespie, an objective commentator outside the Bundler world, also sees Dare as the only rational Bundler capable of sensible actions. Although Dare did not become insane, there was a moment of clear comprehension when he began to laugh, fully realizing the absurd situation the family had just gone through and the animosity between them. This realization led him to escape from the ignorance of the Bounders, causing him to doubt his own sanity briefly. Having never lived in a sane world, Dare sees the Bundler role as insane and incomprehensible. When he refers to himself in the third person, he is acknowledging that he now understands what others have been thinking about him and recognizes their hatred alongside his own superiority. In an insane asylum, a Dare Bundler is in a better position than a Manse Bundler in the outside world.

It is ironic that Dare, who is the only one with the ability to understand life's complexities, is sent to the asylum while the rest of the Bounders, who should actually be confined, wander freely.

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