As I Lay Dying Essay

Decent Essays

William Faulkner’s portrayal of women, Addie Bundren specifically, in As I Lay Dying presents an interesting look into the gender politics of the south in the 1930s. Addie lies at the heart of the novel; yet despite being the heart, her presence for most of the story is as a corpse. Faulkner only gives her one chapter to explain herself; and it is her desire to be buried in Jefferson that sets in motion everything that happens in the novel. There is a profound tension at work between words and Truth her chapter: Addie ascribes no value to words, they are nothing more than dead sounds. And despite her claim that words are “quick and harmless”, she is tricked by them, and relies on them to take her revenge on Anse. While the word “sin” …show more content…

When Addie has Cash, she realizes that “living [is] terrible and that this [is] the answer to it” (171). Addie has been tricked by words into the role of wife and mother, though she asked for neither (174).
Much of the chapter focuses on Addie’s meditation on the insufficiency of language: “words are no good; …words dont ever fit even what they are trying to say at” (171). Language is incapable of conveying Truth for Addie; words chase “at” Truth, but never succeed as they are nothing more than “shape[s] to fill a lack” (172). “Motherhood” was invented by someone who does not have children; mothers do not care “whether there [is] a word for it or not” (172). The implication here is that society invents simple words for complex ideas in order ensnare people with labels. to enslave women to a word. She goes on to talk of Anse’s use of the word “Love”; she does not believe that she needs to use the word with Cash, nor Cash with her; “Let Anse use it, if her wants to” (172). Again, this statement is unable to tell the reader how Addie feels toward Cash: either she does not need to use the word because she knows that she and Cash love each other, or she does not need to use it because she feels no love for Cash; the concept of love is just as empty as the word.
When Addie becomes pregnant with Darl, she says that at first she

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