25 October 2011
Addie Bundren in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying
Addie Bundren is the mother of the Bundren family, the main subjects of William Faulkner’s novel As I Lay Dying. The novel is centered on her death and burial as her family travels to bury her with her family in Jefferson. Throughout the novel, the reader gets an understanding of who Addie Bundren is, but only through other characters’ memories and perceptions of her; excluding the chapter where Addie speaks for herself where she gives the reader a true account of her thoughts and feelings about the world and her family.
Reading Addie’s section of the novel, the reader discovers several innermost thoughts and secrets the mother is…show more content… He meant nothing. She gives him children because she knows that is her duty as a wife, but she states she never asked for them (Faulkner 174).
Addie is also disconnected from her children. They are a part of Anse and they violate her aloneness. When she gives birth to their first son, Cash, she expresses that “living is terrible and this [motherhood] was the answer to it (Faulkner 170). She expresses a desire to kill Anse when she discovers she is pregnant with their second child, Darl (Faulkner 172). She gives birth to Dewey Dell, to give Anse a legitimate child after having Jewel, her love child from another man and then Vardaman. Giving him children, she says “And then I could get ready to die” (Faulkner 176). The children, just as Anse, she feels obligated too because it is expected. She never expresses a want for her husband or her children. Addie is trapped in her life, simply going through the motions until she reaches her death.
The only child she feels emotion for is Jewel. He is not Anse’s child, but a love child she has from an affair with Reverend Whitfield. Jewel is not born out of an obligation to Anse, but from a moment of passion that Addie does not feel with her husband. This is why she treats him better than her other children. She calls Jewel her “salvation” and “her cross” (Faulkner 168), saying he is both her reward and her punishment. Jewel does not belong to Anse, meaning that